1 Peter 3:7 – “Likewise, husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way, showing honor to the woman as the weaker vessel, since they are heirs with you of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered.”
Just in this one verse, there are four instructions to husbands we want to look at today, and by God’s grace, have our hearts affected.
1. Husband, live life with your wife.
Peter’s instructions for husbands to live with your wives in an “understanding way” must first assume that husbands are living life with their wives – together, not separate. When a marriage lacks this togetherness, it often begins feeling less like a marriage and more like roommates. You share the same house, but not the same heart. Living in the same home does not insure “togetherness”. You can be physically present, but mentally and spiritually absent.
This unity must go beyond just being together, or sharing common interests, or even date night. True unity will be found only when you are both rooted in Christ. When you and your wife are unified in the gospel, everything else begins to find it’s proper place. Priorities become clear. The big things become big. The small things become small. The gospel reminds us we are all sinners living in a fallen world. But the God of the universe poured out His grace on you through the blood of His Son, that we would be reconciled to Him – and reconciled to each other.
2. Husband, know God.
This is the heart of the instruction to husbands – the marrow at the center of the bone. For a man to live with his wife “in an understanding way” literally means, “living together according to knowledge”. First and foremost, a godly husband needs to be a man who pursues a knowledge of God.
Not just to know about God, but to know God. We grow in this by having a steady diet of reading and meditating on the Bible, through prayer, and asking God to open our eyes to see Him more clearly. It comes through living life with other Christians, worshiping together, hearing God’s word preached, singing and celebrating the truths of the gospel together, when we run often to the cross of Christ, where the message is loud and clear that we are sinners, yet we are redeemed by the only One who did it right.
Husbands, our goal is not to try and be everything our wives need. We can’t, and God never intended that. Instead, we are to reflect Christ, and to point our wives to Christ, the only One who can meet every need and the only one who is worthy of our worship and adoration.
3. Husband, know your wife.
“Yada” is a Hebrew word which means “to know”. It is one of the most intimate forms of knowing a person, as in “Adam knew Eve his wife, and she conceived…” (Gen. 4:1). And in marriage, it means to intimately know – in every way – this person God has given you to live out life together.
Men, we’re good at pursuing our wives when we want something, like physical intimacy. But the kind of knowing of our wives, the kind of pursuit we are called to as husbands is not a selfish one. It is to love your wife like Christ loves the church and to minister grace to her heart.
- To notice her strengths / gifts, and to communicate your appreciation for those things.
- To take time and consider what life looks like through her eyes, to try and understand what she feels and where she struggles. Draw her out. Take time to ask good questions, and then take the time to listen.
- To try to see life, to see your marriage through her eyes. Take time to consider what is important to her – not just to you – and serve her in that. See life through her lens. Speak words of grace to her. Pray for her, and that will minister healing to her soul.
- To know that God designed her to want to be protected, to be treasured by her husband. God placed a desire in her to be a mother to children, not a mother to her husband. Free her from that temptation by humbly leading and caring for her.
4. Husband, show honor to your wife.
“…showing honor to the woman as the weaker vessel…”
This is not meant to be demeaning or patronizing to women – just the opposite. Men, because God designed you to be physically stronger than a woman, use your strength to honor her. Never use your strength against her or to harm her, but to protect her. A “weaker vessel” means something more delicate more precious and valuable – like fine China. Husband, don’t treat your wife like everyday paper plates. Treat your wife like fine China.
“…since they are heirs with you of the grace of life”.
That means Christian women are spiritually equal to Christian men – equally children of God, equal recipients of saving grace in Christ, and equally in line to inherit eternal life and all the blessings of being with Christ in His Kingdom forever.
To point out that wives are heirs with their husbands in the grace of life, it’s like God saying to husbands, “You’re not only my son. But this woman I am giving you, she is my daughter. Treat her right.” And, as a good father should, God also adds a warning, “…that your prayers may not be hindered.” This implies that if a husband mistreats his wife, God will not hear the husband’s prayers. For a man to neglect or mistreat or dishonor his wife is to hinder that man’s relationship with God. It’s important to God that we love her and honor her and care for her, because she belongs to God.
Men, living with your wife in an understanding way means knowing you are flawed, knowing you are a sinner in need of grace. But it also means that you are a recipient of that grace. God has given you the grace you need to serve your home. He’s given you all the grace you need for today, to be the husband, the father, the friend, and that He has called you to be.