Your beauty … should be that of your inner self, the un-fading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit …
—1 Peter 3:3-4
Is Peter against cosmetics, jewelry, and attractive clothing for a Christian woman? Should she dress, say, in cotton-padded pants and baggy jackets like those that Mao Tse Tung required as the uniform of men and women in revolutionary China? Some Christians have interpreted Peter in a way like that, and they make a point of dressing drably. Today let’s learn a principle of biblical interpretation that will steer us around such pitfalls.
Peter’s teaching method is characteristically Hebrew. It depends on a shocking impact to get you to think. Jesus taught that way too: “If anyone comes to me and does not hate father and mother … such a person cannot be my disciple” (Luke 14:26). Be careful not to jump to the wrong conclusion. Jesus is not flying in the face of the fifth commandment, which calls us to honor our father and mother. Rather, he is saying that our love for him must be even greater than our love for our parents.
Peter is saying that if we do not have a gentle and loving spirit, no amount of jewelry, cosmetics, or gorgeous clothing will help in fostering the kind of love that will keep a man and woman together, or win an unbelieving spouse to Christ.
Lord Jesus, please work in our hearts and give us a truly gentle and loving spirit. And may our choices of clothing honor you and complement the joy and peace with which you fill our lives. For your sake, Amen.
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