The Power of an Intangible Witness

“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. Do not let your adorning be external—the braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewelry, or the clothing you wear—  but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious. For this is how the holy women who hoped in God used to adorn themselves…

“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.

“Finally, all of you, have unity of mind, sympathy, brotherly love, a tender heart, and a humble mind. Do not repay evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary, bless, for to this you were called, that you may obtain a blessing. For

“’Whoever desires to love life
    and see good days,
let him keep his tongue from evil
    and his lips from speaking deceit;
let him turn away from evil and do good;
    let him seek peace and pursue it…’

“In your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect.” 1 Peter 3:1-5a,7,8-11,15

Peter knew the impulsiveness of speaking and jumping in to plan and do. Early on, with him it was all talk and brash action. But he’d learned from untamed whim and unchecked assertions. He’d been corrected, and by God’s grace transformed, by the Holy Spirit over years of maturing in faith. Now his instruction went straight to the heart. Since every action stems from what is thought and believed, he addressed the inner and hidden condition that held sway in life. (Mark 14:27-38; Luke 9:28-35; John 18:10)

It is our tendency to assess and measure behavior by things done and said, but tending to the inner self makes more difference then we may want to believe. Our human nature wants to take control of will and actions and reactions, but unless our hearts are right with the Lord and yielded under His sovereign rule, we will fail to exhibit Christlikeness in any disciplined way or winsome manner.

Are we willing to do the hard inner work necessary for an attractive, fruitful witness? Do we focus on performance more than purification? On doing over devotion? The heart at rest and the soul fixed on Jesus will bear out in grace, kindness, and imperishable beauty in the external. What if we endeavored to convince with self-control over argument, sympathy over sanctimony, and devotion over debate? How will we practically pursue a gentle spirit, unity, peace with others, and mutual respect in a culture of sides, blame, and vitriol? (Romans 12:18)

Father, may I daily set apart Christ as Lord of all of me, so I can exhibit all of You to a hungry, needy world.

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