1 Peter 3:3-6, “3 Do not let your adorning be external—the braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewelry, or the clothing you wear— 4 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. 5 For this is how the holy women who hoped in God used to adorn themselves, by submitting to their own husbands, 6 as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord. And you are her children if you do good and do not fear anything that is frightening.”
Any visit to the grocery store is bound to bring you to the checking line to check out. There you’ll be confronted with tabloid magazines and other things to remind you of our society’s preoccupation with a woman’s appearance. Those provocatively dressed cover models are surrounded by captions advertising articles on achieving their look to attract that certain someone instantly. The contents inside these magazines promote the ungodly and self-destructive idea that flawless physical beauty, rather, than the development of good and godly character is the key to success in our day. Sadly, many of these same ideas are alive and well inside the Church today. If you look at the cover of contemporary Christian music albums, you might very well wonder if the standards of that industry are in reality so different than those of the secular culture. It is too easy to find immodest clothing on display in many of our churches.
In our passage today, Peter calls the women of the church to stand firm in the faith and refuse to submit to the standards of beauty set by the culture. Peter explains to the women in his audience that they are to remember where true beauty resides in God’s sight, in godly character reflected in a gentle spirit (1 Peter 3:3-4). Faithful, godly women have always known that real and lasting beauty is found ultimately not in physical appearance but in the display of godly character that produces good works and that fears God Himself (1 Peter 3:5-6)
In 1 Peter 3:3-6, Peter is not saying that he is against wearing jewelry or not to be concerned with your outward appearance. If that were the case, one would have to read 1 Peter 3:3 as against the wearing of any clothing at all. Peter is instead condemning the concern with physical appearance that reflects the vanity and ungodliness of the surrounding culture. The way people dress is not indifferent it illustrates where their heart is. John Calvin explains that “they who object and say, that to clothe one’s-self in this or that manner is an indifferent thing, in which all are free to do as they please, may be easily confuted; for excessive elegance and superfluous display, in short, all excesses, arise from a corrupted mind.”
1 Peter 3:3-6 has much to offer not only women but also men. Christians are not to be vainly concerned with our physical attractiveness, but neither are we to neglect our physical bodies. Peter’s focus in this passage is on developing the permanent inward beauty of a godly character. That message is particularly important given our culture’s fascination with outward beauty to the neglect of inward beauty. As Christians, we are not opposed to physical beauty. Peter’s point here is the development of godly character that reflects a life of devotion before the face of God.
Please take some time to consider how concerned you are with your physical appearance and then begin today to grow in and model godly character by developing regular habits of Bible reading, prayer, repentance, confession, and regular church attendance to name a few.