“Why doesn’t he get off his lazy backside and get a job?”
“He never does anything with the kids.”
“When is he going to see that I’m run off my feet while he plays internet games and watches the footy?”
“What’s wrong with him? Doesn’t he know that he should be doing _______ instead of ________?”
Do you ever discover these kind of thoughts in your heart? Does a battle rage within that spills out with nagging and arguments or hunkers down inside burning bitter feelings in your soul? Dear wife, you are not alone. In fact, this is an ancient problem, endemic in the fallen human race.
Likewise, wives, be subject to your own husbands, so that even if some do not obey the word, they may be won without a word by the conduct of their wives, when they see your respectful and pure conduct.
This astounding advice from 1 Peter 3 speaks to wives in a special category—those whose husbands “do not obey the word.” Slacker husbands definitely fit into this category when they refuse to provide for the family (1 Timothy 5:8), fail to nurture their children in the Lord (Ephesians 6:4), and fall short of sacrificially loving their wives as Christ loved the Church and gave himself for her (Ephesians 5:28). By the last criteria at least, every man is a slacker some of the time.
Peter first gives the wives a specific command: “be subject to your own husband.” The military term “be subject to” denotes a position that is underneath in rank. Being subject does not mean that the wife is less valuable or that she is incapable; the term assigns her a rank as vice-admiral under the admiral. In other words, her place is under her husband’s authority and leadership while having her own specific role to fulfil. Peter is saying, “Woman, get into your place and stay there!”
While the shock of such a directive still resonates in our ears, Peter follows it up with hope: “they may be won.” Wouldn’t you do anything to win that slacker husband of yours? Isn’t the hope of change what keeps us going when the going gets us down? And doesn’t the absence of hope paralyze our attempts to keep on going when things are tough?
The hope of winning our husbands is qualified by some clear guidelines.
1. “Without a word” (v. 1) That pretty much rules out nagging and wifely preaching, usually our first line of action when our husbands are up to their slacker tricks. This key act of faith keeps us from distorting what God can directly do in our husbands’ lives. Why would we want to get in the way of the Almighty’s programme of change? He will do a far better job than we can, even though He often doesn’t work to our timetables. Can we trust Him in this by guarding our words?
2. “Respectful” (v. 2) Let our attitude do the talking. Respectful words, behaviour and tone speak volumes to a man especially when they come from his wife. Respect visibly evidences that a wife understands and accepts her rank in the marriage. Heaping honour and reverence on him pours grace on his soul. As a slacker, he doesn’t deserve that treatment. But the grace of God shining in our own wretched hearts empowers us to lavish grace on him. In Sunday school we learned that grace is God’s Riches At Christ’s Expense. Because of Jesus’ sacrificial love for us, we have the spiritual riches to revere our husbands as we should, whether we think he is worthy or not.
3. “Pure conduct” (v.2) Pure connotes chaste and untouched. Not only should our behaviour be without the slightest hint of sexual inappropriateness (no paying back my husband by flirting with other men!), but it should also be completely free of hidden agendas. When a wife properly conducts herself before her husband, her conduct is actually directed towards God in faith. He sees the secret motives of our hearts, and our obedience to Him–though tinged with pain–is not forgotten by Him.
We can trust God to deal with our slacker husbands. He holds out to us the hope that they may be won. Only let each of us bow to Christ’s holy purpose for us as wives by
getting in our place,
guarding our tongues,
respecting our men and
freeing ourselves of any tainted behaviour.
So how do you manage when your husband is a slacker? Heap grace on him, sister! It’s already been lavishly heaped on you and me!