February 3, 2022

A Gentle and Quiet Spirit

"But let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God's sight is very precious. For this is how the holy women who hoped in God used to adorn themselves, by submitting to their own husbands, as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord. And you are her children, if you do good and do not fear anything that is frightening."

1 Peter 3:4-6

Contrary to what some may believe of me, I am not one of those blessed souls who naturally possess a "gentle and quiet spirit." I would tend to describe myself more on the "feisty" side of the spectrum - a blend of being a realist and having a sarcastic sense of humor will do that to you. I've always read this verse from 1 Peter 3 and felt a bit hopeless, like my personality type didn't fit the description and I didn't know that it ever could. Until one day, I was studying this passage again and noticed one small word: "adorn." The Merriam-Webster 1828 Dictionary definition of the word adorn is: "To deck or decorate; to make beautiful; to add to beauty by dress; to deck with external ornaments." I realized that this passage isn't necessarily saying that having a gentle and quiet spirit is something that comes naturally for Christian women - rather, it was encouraging us to proactively ADORN that gentle and quiet spirit, in the same way that we might put on a necklace or a pretty dress. When I noticed that word, it was like a lightbulb went on in me and I felt up to the task. I may not naturally go about life in a gentle and quiet way, but if it's something I put on like I do the armor of God every day, perhaps one day it will become less of a "putting on" and more of a "hidden person of the heart" sort of thing.

I also love the end of this passage which calls us the great matriarch Sarah's children, and exhorts us to not only adorn that gentle and quiet and submissive spirit, but to also do good and fear not. Peter isn't telling us women to merely be these timid little church mice - he paints a very different picture when he tells us to imitate Sarah and to do these things in obedience, not out of fear.

I dug a little deeper by reading up on what Matthew Henry has to say about this section and his words were very much in line with my own revelation:

Instead of the outward adorning of the body, he directs Christian wives to put on much more excellent and beautiful ornaments, 1 Pet. 3:4. Here note, First, The part to be adorned: The hidden man of the heart; that is, the soul; the hidden, the inner man. Take care to adorn and beautify your souls rather than your bodies. Secondly, The ornament prescribed. It must, in general, be something not corruptible, that beautifies the soul, that is, the graces and virtues of God’s Holy Spirit. The ornaments of the body are destroyed by the moth, and perish in the using; but the grace of God, the longer we wear it, the brighter and better it is. More especially, the finest ornament of Christian women is a meek and quiet spirit, a tractable easy temper of mind, void of passion, pride, and immoderate anger, discovering itself in a quiet obliging behaviour towards their husbands and families.

I don't know about you, but these words are very encouraging to me. It reminds me of another portion of scripture which talks about putting on the new self and doing away with the old self whose ways are naturally evil and deceitful.

"But that is not the way you learned Christ! - assuming that you have heard about Him and were taught in Him, as the truth is in Jesus, to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness." 
Ephesians 4:20-24

May you be encouraged as well to put the old way of life behind you and all that may come "naturally," and instead to adorn this new life that is gentle, quiet, submissive, obedient, fearless, and altogether precious in God's sight.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you, RM! I definitely needed this reminder. It’s also such an encouragement to know that as God’s daughters, we don’t have to pursue the world’s beauty standards… we don’t have to look like the world or fit into their molds. We can focus more on the inward beauty of holiness! Not that the outward doesn’t matter at all… but it’s not the greatest thing, like the world often makes it out to be.