Whose adorning let it not be that outward
adorning of plaiting the hair, and of
wearing of gold, or of putting on of
apparel; But let it be the hidden man of the
heart, in that which is not corruptible, even
the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit,
which is in the sight of God of great price.
(1 Peter 1:6-8)
As women, aren’t we all vulnerable to fear, worry, and anxiety? God knows we will face them daily, and in His Word He graciously gives us clear instructions about how to fight them when they come.
What are you afraid of? Are you anxious?
“I’m afraid to have the surgery my doctor says I need.”
“I’m afraid my grandchildren aren’t really going to know me because we live so far apart.”
“I’m afraid my child is going to do something that will disqualify my husband from the ministry.”
“I’m afraid of what my husband’s reaction will be if I tell him ________.” (Fill in the blank.)
“I’m afraid to tell my sister the truth because in the past she has blown up at me.”
“I’m afraid I’m not a good mother….or wife….or friend.”
“I’m afraid my children aren’t going to grow up to serve the Lord.”
Life is filled with challenges and difficulties to overcome in all our relationships. Do we stop to consider that our responses of agitation, impatience, or defensiveness most often have their root in fear?
This familiar passage in 1 Peter emphasizes beauty and submission in the life of a holy woman. I’ve thought many times about the braiding of hair, the gold, and the putting on of clothing. I have acknowledged that those are temporal, and though they may define me to someone outwardly, I know that God is interested in and concerned about my inward parts. But a gentle and quiet spirit—what does that really look like? How should it be playing itself out in my everyday life?
Peter, the writer of our text, often exhibited a brash and impulsive personality. When the disciples saw Jesus walking on the water and were terrified, Peter was the one who said, “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.” He hopped out of the boat and started walking…until he saw that the wind was boisterous. And beginning to sink, he cried out in fear, saying, “Lord, save me.” Later, after Jesus’ arrest, he denied Christ three times because he was afraid again. This time, he feared what others would think of him.
And Sarah, whom Peter is telling us to emulate, laughed in disbelief when she was told that she was going to have a baby, and then denied that she laughed because she was afraid (Genesis 18:13-15). Meekness, or a gentle and quiet spirit, is not possible in a heart that is fearful. As illustrated by Peter and Sarah, fear can bring a variety of responses in our “hidden hearts” that disrupts a spirit of meekness.
What happens to my quiet spirit when I am irritable, rash, or impulsive? Do I respond in a gentle way when I have been stung by another’s criticism of me or when I feel snubbed and ignored? Am I being driven by my need for the approval of others? Do I spend time justifying or defending myself? Are my fears leading me to dishonesty, suspicion, or the “control” of people and circumstances?
The fears and imaginations that are conjured up in our minds can be replaced by looking to the unfailing faithfulness of God. Faith is the foundation of being a submissive wife, a loving mother and a trusted friend. But without understanding the character and faithfulness of God, we will succumb to the sin of fear. His promises and His sovereignty will increase our faith (Hebrews 11:6).
Our fears often sweep over us like a flood, but God is there (Isaiah 43:2). Our anxieties can be all-consuming and overwhelming, but God who is a very present help in trouble has provided a way (Psalm 46:1). Because of God, who is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love (Psalm 86:15), we have much more incentive to trust than to fear.
Am I willing, by God’s grace, to bring my thoughts and fears that exalt themselves against the knowledge of God into captivity to the obedience of Christ? (2 Corinthians 10:5) Do I believe that the sovereign God can free me from my fears and give me courage despite the inevitable struggles I will face?
Psalm 34:4 promises,
I sought the Lord and He heard me and delivered me from all my fears.
When there is no fear, a gentle and quiet spirit adorns the hidden person of the heart, as it finds its hope in God
Written by Kathie Turner. This article was published in the Spring 2009 edition of The Beautiful Spirit magazine.
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