Consider the Apostle Peter’s words from 1 Peter 3:17, “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.”
“Do these things,” Peter says. What things?
Live with her in “an understanding way,” according to knowledge. According to the knowledge of God, the faith, women in general, and this woman in particular. Don’t assume you know it all about any of these things – including her! It’s a lifetime pursuit.
Live with her in an understanding way. And show her honor. Husband, you claim you are a follower of Christ. Then treat her as one highly valued, precious, of great worth.
“Do these things,” Peter says. “With this in view. She is different.”
She is “the weaker vessel.” Not weaker morally, mentally, or spiritually. Though possibly physically. More likely that she is in a vulnerable position since she has voluntarily placed herself under her husband’s leadership. So, with that, put her interests ahead of your own. She is “the weaker vessel” and an heir with you of the grace of life.
Which takes us to the second thing in view – your relationship with Christ is at stake. Not just your relationship with her but with Him. Not just prayers with her but prayer to Him. Note this word “hinder.” In the ancient world, it was used in reference to the practice of impeding someone’s journey by breaking up the road or by placing an obstacle in their path. Their progress was then “hindered.” They couldn’t go forward.
Now we know prayer affects how we live. But Peter is saying that how we live also affects prayer. Jesus speaks to this in the Sermon on the Mount. We read in Matthew 5:23-24, “So if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift.”
Jesus is saying, “You’ve got to be kidding. You’re coming to me like this?” Not to say we have to have it all together in order to pray. In fact, often times the very reason we’re there is precisely because we don’t have it all together. But we are being pressed here to examine our hearts.
The reality is that our prayers can be hindered, blocked. And what hinders our prayers is often our lives – the way we live, how we relate to others, especially those closest to us. And for husbands, that’s our wives. Prayer is a means of grace, one of the God-given ways in which we can grow in our relationship with Him. And Peter is telling us that there are means to the means of grace. And so a call to self-examination.
A call to examine our lives, our marriages, our relationships with our wives. To ask the Lord to show us, perhaps through another brother (and perhaps through our wives) the answers to questions like “Where am I ignoring or neglecting her? In what ways am I acting as though I’ve learned all there is to learn of her? How can I study her? In what ways can I honor her? In what ways do I need to learn her language?”
Think with me here. She doesn’t always mean what you think she does. Case in point, “We never go out.” Now, that could be true and is something you need to address. But it could also be a cry of longing. “I miss you. I don’t feel connected with you. Can we spend some time together?” Which means, when she says, “We never go out,” you don’t have to take it as an attack. She’s not saying, “You’re a failure. You’re inadequate. My mother said…” That’s not what she’s saying. She saying she wants to be with you! You need to learn her language. God gave you that woman. Live with her according to knowledge.
Spring is in the air. May our hearts indeed be turned to love.