Your adornment must not be merely the external—braiding the hair, wearing gold jewelry, or putting on apparel;4 but it should be the hidden person of the heart, with the imperishable quality of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is precious in the sight of God.1 Peter 3: 3-4 NASB
This verse has been a bit of a stumbling block for me in the past. I didn’t really know how to take it. I believe the word of God is infallible, which means I can’t just write this verse off. Especially because it is addressed to women, wives in particular.
I’m not big on ‘adorning’ myself externally. In fact sometimes I wish I were better about that. My style is modest and comfortable. Basically the wardrobe of choice after giving birth is my casual every day wear. I rarely even wear my wedding ring because it tends to be caked in dough from bread baking. Braids, however, I love a good braid- and that was one of the first things that stumped me about this verse. I’ve never braided my hair and thought, “Scoot over Kardashians, there’s a new girl in town,” so is my braided hair ungodly? What about my dresses? I do tend to hide behind them. Are they unbecoming? Or perhaps giving off ‘Pharisee vibes’ to those who prefer pants? And what about make-up? What in the world will I cry off in church if I can’t wear my makeup?
And then came the real clincher. One day while listening to a sermon on womanhood, the preacher went over this set of verses and he settled on verse four. He spoke on that gentle and quiet spirit. In this sermon though, he talked about the loud mouth girls with big personalities and how that was not something to look for in a wife.
Okay, got it. The perfect woman is plain, quiet, content, meek, and uninteresting.
Alright, single ladies- slap that in the description on your dating profile. That’s how you attract a good man. And goodness, did my husband mess up..
If a woman tells you she doesn’t care about how she looks, she is either “next level” or she is lying. We do care, and God knows we care. He made us that way, after all. And it is precisely why verses like this are in the Bible. Because He knows we stand around looking in the mirror and wishing we could fix this or change that. But He is calling us to go deeper. Deeper than the foundation and primer. He wants us to look inside and let that be our real beauty. But before we get into that let’s address verse three and outward appearance, because it really does matter.
We all know someone who takes this to the extreme, and then someone who reads and says, “Nope, don’t like that,” and ignores it. We all fall somewhere on that spectrum. So what does Peter have against braided hair and jewelry? And does it apply today?
If we were to put this into today’s terms I think it would read something like, “Do not adorn yourself with lavish extensions and Gucci bags.” Why? It isn’t because those things are inherently wrong anymore than jewelry and braided hair are, but because they are a sign of status. God isn’t calling us to be plain, but rather to be humble and modest. Why? Because those are character traits. He wants to fix our heart, not our hair- and then He wants the outside to reflect the change that has happened inside.
The Modest Mindset
Mamas, I often hear “how can I teach my daughter modesty?” I’ve asked that question myself. The truth is though, modesty isn’t a clothing choice. Modesty is a setting of the mind and heart. You can be immodest in a floor length dress or modest in shorts. What is your mind focused on? How your clothes hug your body? Who is looking at you? Or are you focused on others? Their needs, their feelings, their stories.
We teach our daughters (and our sons for that matter) by example, but not just exemplifying outward appearance. They should see our hearts and where our focus is. We should compliment them more on their character than their beauty. We should worry more about the condition of their heart and the softness they have towards God than what outfit they choose on a hot day. Because when the inside is adorned in modesty and beauty, the outside will reflect that.
You know the saying, “the higher the hair, the closer to God.” Peter may disagree, but if God is calling us to humility do hair choices and finer tastes really affect that? I don’t know the answer to that. It honestly varies woman to woman, I’m sure. But there is no denying that revival broke out even amongst the beehive hairstyles of the 1960s.
The truth is it’s not about your hair, your pearl necklace, or your new Shein dress. In fact it may not be about you at all. It may be about being humble, approachable. How often do we abandon hospitality and not invite someone over because we feel our homes may not be up to their standard? How often do we feel less than when our finances are barely stretching and someone else is upgrading cars every couple of months like they have a money tree growing in their back yard?
Mamas, are we approachable? I think the warning here from Peter is not to appear better than those around us. For example sometimes I feel like the outcast in the Christian Mommy groups because I became a mom before I was married and before I was a Christian. That’s not their fault, it’s mine. But it can be hard to jump into certain ‘pre-kids’ conversations because my life looked very different than theirs. However you can spot the Mom with a grace filled heart a mile away. Not because she is dressed plainly and her hairstyle is humble. But because her heart and her tone are on display and you know she is the one to gravitate towards.
That’s who Peter wants us to be. That’s who God wants us to be. And that’s who I want to be. Humble.
This is why I chose to write this blog today. Recently I have found myself praying for my inward appearance. It’s not because I decided to focus on that this month. It is actually because I have recently found it a bit of a disheveled wreck.
From 2am until 5am I found myself awake. Night after night. Same time.. Same all consuming thoughts. Tears poured down my cheeks and prayers rolled off my lips. And then one night I found myself praying over and over, “God, give me a quiet and gentle spirit.” For all the times I have misunderstood that verse and all the times I have heard it preached not to be “a boisterous woman”. I finally understood what it meant. And the Holy Spirit was teaching me the true beauty of a quiet and gentle spirit.
It’s not about being a Mama who never yells or a wife who never speaks her thoughts. It’s about being anchored. Unshakable. It’s a spirit that rides the tides of life in absolute peace no matter how the storms may swell.
It doesn’t mean that hard times don’t come, but you are dressed for the occasion. Modestly and humbly. You are clothed in scarlet, and you do not fear the days ahead because you know who walks with you. A gentle and quiet spirit is not a garment you can purchase online and there is no amount of polish or hairspray that can craft the appearance of one. It comes from a relationship with God. It comes from knowing Him and His heart and character so deeply that you can lean into Him no matter what lies ahead. He goes before you, He goes with you. You are not shaken or afraid or consumed with worry. You are clothed in the blood of Jesus and your spirit is a rest in Him.
A Quiet and Gentle Spirit: The Imperishable Quality
I love that line. The imperishable quality. Nothing can touch it or take it away. We know from pregnancy and the birthing process that these bodies change. They stretch and scar, bend and break. And someday these days of laughter will mark our faces and bodies. An aging roadmap of the life we have lived. It will grow frail and achy and in the end we will depart from it, a shell we existed in for a season- but life is but a vapor and this body is perishable.
But not that gentle and quiet spirit. That we will carry forever. That will follow us through all of life’s ups and downs, through aging, through death, and when we worship at the feet of Jesus in His Kingdom- it will still be with us. The Imperishable Quality.
What better picture of beauty could we ever display for our children and our husband than a gentle and quiet spirit? It is precious in the sight of God and it will be precious to those around us.
My Nana had that spirit. Looking back, though she was a beautiful woman, it was her most intriguing quality. It carried her through every valley and up every mountain. And when cancer came, she was the least alarmed of us all. A gentle and quiet spirit. Unshakable. Then when death soon followed and her body lay cold, she took that spirit with her. I never heard her ask “why me?” or show any sign of hurt or anger. But you know who did show those things? My Papa.
As his wife, my Nana shared that spirit with him, but when she left- he grappled for it. He found his peace in the Word of God, but He was never the same because something beautiful- truly beautiful and precious had been stripped from him.
The Spirit of a Wife
As wives, we are in a very intriguing position, and I have no doubt that is why this verse is pointed to us. No one- absolutely no one else on earth- has the influence on your husband like you do. You can build him up like no one else can. But you can also tear him down further than anyone else ever could. Just as that quiet and gentle spirit of my Nana carried over to my Papa- so should ours. When job loss comes. Financial issues arise. When death stings. When decisions come up- be that quiet and gentle spirit. Unshaken by the tides of life. Be that beautiful and precious thing in his life that reminds him that his anchor still holds.
Don’t adorn yourself in merely outward beauty, for it is fleeting. Adorn yourself in a gentle and quiet spirit, the imperishable quality. Precious in the sight of the Lord. Precious in the sight of your family.
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