Husband & Wife and the Grace of Life

Husband & Wife and the Grace of Life

“Husband & Wife and the Grace of Life”
(1 Peter 3:7)
Father’s Day

Rev. Todd A. Linn, PhD

Henderson’s First Baptist Church, Henderson

  • As you find your seats I’d invite you to find your Bibles.  And let me encourage you to open your Bible to 1 Peter, chapter 3.

While you’re locating 1 Peter in the New Testament, let me share a clip for all the dads in the room today; a video clip to honor our dads.  Let’s check it out.

VIDEO CLIP [Dad Jokes; 1:35]

Amen, we love our dads, don’t we?!  If you’re a dad, stand right now so we can honor you today.  All dads stand up (clap).  

We’re going to be talking today about how dads can love their kids’ mom.  And we’re going to be in 1 Peter chapter 3 and, verse 7.  One verse.

  • Let me invite you to stand in honor of the reading of God’s Word.  1 Peter 3:7.

7 Husbands, likewise (or also; Peter has just been writing about godly wives so now “likewise” or “also), dwell with them with understanding, giving honor to the wife, as to the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life, that your prayers may not be hindered.

  • Prayer.

How dads can love their kids’ mom.  But let me say that there’s something here for everyone.  There’s something in verse 7 for everyone—not just husbands, but future husbands.  You may be a future husband.  There’s something here for wives and future wives.  Even mothers and fathers can take this verse and teach a little one about what it means to be a godly man.  A woman may use the verse as a standard for the kind of man she hopes to marry. So verse 7—like all of Scripture—benefits everyone if we have eyes to see and ears to hear.  So let’s get right to it.  Top of the page: 

**How Dads Can Love Their Kids’ Mom:

1) Be Committed as you Love Her

Commitment means 100%.  And by that we don’t mean 50/50.  Tony Evans used to say, “If my wife is giving me only 50, I want to know who’s getting the other half!”  Husbands and wives give 100% in total commitment to each other. 

We can break the first part of verse 7 into three little phrases that speak to the kind of commitment husbands are to have as they love their wives.  The first—and I have these in my notes as bullet points—the first bullet point is commitment:

• to the marriage

Verse 7 begins with these words: “Husbands, likewise, dwell with them…”  The word “dwell” or “live” in some translations is a participle that is better translated as “living” or “dwelling,” suggesting an ongoing, continual, enduring, never-ending, never-stopping living.  Living with them.  The assumption is that husbands will, in fact, continue living with their wives, that they will, in fact, go on living with their kids’ mom.  

And the word is to be taken in an imperative sense.  So a paraphrase would be, “Hey, husbands!  Keep on living with your wives all of your days.”  Be committed to the marriage.  

No, it’s not always easy.  And Peter is not talking about two people merely existing in the house together.  Like roommates.  That’s not God’s ideal.  Christian marriage is to be worked on all the time.  

GK Chesterton wrote that it’s not that the Christian ideal has been tried and found lacking, he said, “It has been found difficult and left untried.”  It takes work, but the dad who loves his kids’ mom is committed to the marriage.  

I’ve said before that no matter how frustrated Michele gets with me she can never leave me.  Because if she leaves, I’m going with her!  Next phrase: Be committed:

• with understanding 

“…dwell with them with understanding.”

Now this phrase does not merely mean to be considerate, which is how the NIV translates it.  I mean husbands should be considerate of their wives; that’s true enough, but the word translated “understanding” is a word in the Greek that means “knowledge.”  

A dad who loves his kids’ mom is a dad who seeks knowledge, specifically knowledge of God’s purposes for his wife.  A dad who loves his kids’ mom is a dad who seeks to know God’s principles for marriage.  He seeks to know what God is doing in his kid’s mom—working through her goals, desires, frustrations, challenges. 

A dad who loves his kids’ mom seeks knowledge about his wife in the Word of God.  He studies, for example, the preceding verses in chapter 3 and learns to praise his wife not just for her outer adornment, but most importantly for her inner beauty.

A dad who loves his kids’ mom seeks to know his wife better as he spends time with her as the two of them seek God together.  This is the kind of understanding the husband seeks to have.  He learns by spending time in the Word and spending time with his wife.  

Be committed as you love her: committed to the marriage, with understanding.  Third bullet point:

• Giving honor to her

“…dwell with them with understanding, giving honor to the wife, as to the weaker vessel…”

The word “honor” is often used today as a sort of “duty bound” command: “honor the rules, honor the policy,” and so on.  The word honor here, however, conveys the idea of cherishing in a respectful manner.  To cherish is to adore.  To cherish is to take care of.  To cherish is to protect.

There is a sense in which Christian men are to honor all women.  The word translated “wife” here is the word for all woman in general.  So even those who are divorced from their wives are still bound to honor and respect their kids’ mom.  If you  are divorced, purpose in your heart to never speak an unkind word about your kids’ mother or father.  Respect.

Respect—even though it may be difficult at times.  Speaking to all believers Peter will go on in verse 9 to say, “not returning evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary blessing, knowing that you were called to this, that you may inherit a blessing.”

So husbands, “…giving honor to the wife, as to the weaker vessel.”  The word “vessel” is a bit archaic.  Peter simply means the husband’s spouse by comparison.  She is the weaker partner.   

Which raises the question: “Weaker in what way?”  Certainly not weaker morally, or weaker intellectually, amen ladies?!  

No, women and men are equal in essence and worth before God.  Peter is speaking comparatively here with regard to general physical ability.  It is a comparison.  Note the word is not “weak,” but “weak—er,”  In comparison to the husband, the wife is the physically weaker partner and therefore will be guarded and protected by her loving husband.  He is her protector and provider.

Be committed as you love your wife—committed to the marriage, with understanding, giving honor to her.  Be committed as you love your her.  Second main point:

2) Be Christlike as you Lead Her

By God’s design, the husband is to lead his wife.  That’s his biblical role.  So be Christlike as you lead her.  The verse suggests two ways of leading.  Two bullet points here.  You lead by:

• Living for the Lord with her (cf v.10)

I love this phrase in verse 7: “…being heirs together of the grace of life.”  Husband & wife and the grace of life.  Heirs together of the grace of life.”

He’s talking about spiritual life, life in Christ, life here and hereafter.  He’s talking about the husband’s living for the Lord with his wife.  

There is no greater blessing in marriage than a husband and wife together living for Jesus.  When a husband and wife, a mom and a dad, love the Lord with all their heart, soul, mind, and strength—what happens? 

I like to use my hands to illustrate this.  When a husband and wife draw closer to God (hands), what happens?  They draw closer to one another.  And the closer a husband and wife are to one another, the closer they are to God.

So how can a husband cultivate his being an heir together of the grace of life with his wife in Christlike leadership as he lives for the Lord with her?

He continues to lead his wife to follow Christ.  He loves her the way Christ loves the church.  Ephesians 5:25, “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave Himself for her.”

A biblical husband loves his kids’ mom the way Christ loved the church.  How did Christ love the church?  He cherished the church.  He prayed for the church.

Men, pray for your wives.  And pray with your wives.  Take her by the hand and say, “Let’s pray.”  Pray for your kids’ mom and pray for her children.  Get down on your knees at the bed of your sons and daughters and pray for the family.  Not only will your children feel loved and be influenced by your actions, but so will their mother.

That’s the second bullet point.  Christlike leadership means living for the Lord with her and:

• Praying to the Lord for her (cf v. 12)

Pray for your kids’ mom.  And men, there’s a warning here about prayer.  If we’re not living with our wives as we should— “being heirs together of the grace of life,” then our prayers will be hindered.  See that in the last part of verse 7?  The whole point is, “Husbands, live this way, be committed as you love her, be Christlike as you lead her—so that!—your prayers may not be hindered.”

And Peter says just a few verses later in verse 12: “For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, and HIs ears are open to their prayers; but the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.”

Put another way, “Don’t expect God to answer your prayers favorably when you’re not being the kind of husband you ought to be.”  So show your love for the one with whom you are an “heir together of the grace of life.”  You’re a team.  Remember math in marriage is “one plus one equals one.”  So stand with her.  Defend her.

Take her side in an argument with the in-laws.  Don’t be like the passive father in the situation comedies on TV who never side with their wives and cower before their mothers.  You’re not an “heir together” with your mother, but you’re an “heir together” with your wife.  She is your spiritual partner.

Show your love for by leading.  Take her to church with you.  Take your kids to church when she is sick.

And if you’re a single mom, don’t settle for anything less than a man who commits to be with you “an heir together of the grace of life.”  Ask God to bring you a man who loves Jesus because marriage is inherently a Christian union.

Marriage reflects the gospel.  God gives us His grace—totally undeserved—He pours out His grace and favor upon us though Christ even though we don’t deserve it!  He loves us in that while we were yet sinners He died for us (Romans 5:8).

If you are a Christian, you are a recipient of God’s grace.  You didn’t deserve it, but God gave it to you through Jesus Christ.  So, you pour out that same grace—totally undeserved—upon your spouse.  When your spouse acts in a way you don’t like and you’re tempted to say, “Well, I’ll just do this or that or whatever!”  You remember how God treats you when you act in a way He doesn’t like.  He still loves you, accepts you, and forgives you.

Some of you need to forgive your spouse.  Some of you need God’s forgiveness.  As always, I’m available to you after the worship service in the Response Room outside these doors here.  Some of you need God’s forgiveness.  I’d like to give you a free devotional to take home.  It tells all about how you can know God through Jesus Christ.  And it talks about baptism and how to join the church and what our church believes.  Come by the Response Room and I’ll give you one; answer questions, pray with you.  You need God’s forgiveness, come by.

Speaking of forgiveness, Father’s day is not an easy day for everyone.  Some of us may have had dads who were not what you’d call “Super dads” or the best examples of fatherhood.  Some of you are not among the many who have been posting pictures of their dads on Facebook.  Maybe you’re struggling with forgiveness.  And some of you are the dads of kids who aren’t posting pictures of you.  Maybe you’re struggling with guilt.

Some of you have been hurt by your dad.  I get that.  And I know personally something of that.  

1979 was a memorable year.  It was a rough year.  I had turned 14 and was in the 8th grade.  The only thing I was any good at was band.  I didn’t know much about pre-algebra or the metric system—that was like trying to untie a pretzel!  I hung out with guys who were just like me.  Collectively we had a terrific sense of humor and were able to laugh our way through the hard times. 

1979 was the same year that my parents divorced.  I remember sharing that with another guy in the 8th grade and I remember his saying, almost apathetically: “Join the club.”  Divorce was tough on me.  I can remember crying and just praying that my parents would get back together. 

My father was away on a trip when my mother told me one day that she was filing for divorce.  She had been the victim of verbal and emotional abuse—my dad largely in denial then about his clinical depression—but he was still my dad.  I was 14.  All I knew was that families were supposed to stay together.  My security was eroding.  Others would say that I was now the “man of the house” and all of that, but I just wanted my dad back.  I wanted my folks back together.

But they didn’t get back together.  He moved to Omaha Nebraska.  We wrote back and forth for a couple of years and then, for some strange reason, he stopped writing.  10 years like that.  Just stopped.  I wrote a few more times, but nothing.  I was angry and felt like, “Fine, I won’t write anymore.  Done.” And 10 years went by.

I got married, my first son was born, and Michele and I fell in love with Jesus.  As we began to grow spiritually, I began thinking more about my dad.  Matthew had just been born and there’s something about a father having a son that makes him think not only about his new relationship with his son, but also about his old relationship with his father.  And then there was my new relationship with my Heavenly Father.

God was working in my life.  He was changing me.  I no longer cared why my dad stopped writing or why he hadn’t contacted me in 10 years.  God just changed me on the inside and I just sort of reached a point where I was okay if I never learned why my dad had stopped communicating.  Later when I was sharing this story with a seminary professor he said, “Well, you know there’s a big theological word for what you’re talking about.”  I said, “What is it?”  He said, “Forgiveness.”  

But it no longer bothered me that my dad had mistreated me and my mom, and my two sisters.  God did that work in me through Jesus Christ and I’m grateful.

Providentially my dad and I were able to reconcile after 10 years of silence as I located him and reached out to him through cards and later calls.  We chatted on the phone and wrote each other as he moved from Nebraska, to Florida, and then to Arizona.

Several years ago when the Southern Baptist Convention was scheduled to be in Phoenix I contacted my dad and told him I would be in Arizona and would love for him to meet his daughter-in-law and two grandsons who were 11 and 9 at the time.

We planned to meet the day after I arrived and I will never forget walking into the Denny’s Restaurant there in Kingman, Arizona—on time, but apparently not soon enough for my dad who, apparently thought I was going to be a no-show.  So on the way in, I held the door for a guy who was one his way out.  And as I held the door and he walked by he said, “Thank you.”  And the voice sounded familiar.  I watched as he went by and I said to Michele, “That looks like my dad.”  But I wasn’t sure so I went into the restaurant quickly and looked around to see if there were any other men in their sixties sitting alone at a table.  Seeing none, I went out into the parking lot and looked toward the car that I believed the man was in as he drove in my direction to exit the parking lot.  As I tried to look into the car, he pulled over to where I was.  He rolled down the window.  I said, “Dad?”  He said, “Todd?  Well, I’ll be darned,”—except he didn’t quite say it quite like that!  Neither of us could hardly believe it.  It had been over 20 years and we had walked right by each other.  

But you know God was working through everything.  My dad had come to know Christ.  But even though he had, he was by no means perfect.  He still struggled with manic depression.  And he fussed a bit at the boys while we were there.  He was still a very demanding, and very self-centered individual. 


But I thank God for what would turn out to be the very last day I saw my dad there in Arizona.  Neither of us had any idea he would die of a heart attack less than a year later.

So as I look back to that last morning I saw him, a morning very much like this one, as we pulled away in our rental car and I waved goodbye to him as he stood there outside that odd, western looking church building where we all had worshiped together that Sunday morning in 2003—that Sunday morning, on this very day, on Father’s Day.  I thank God for that memory.

What am I trying to say?  Life is too short to be bitter.  Some of you have been hurt far worse than I ever was.  Some of you don’t even know where your dad is or he died some time back.  You know you can still forgive him?  You can.  You can do all things through Christ who strengthens you.

Your dad was human and he made mistakes.  And it could well be that he didn’t even realize the depth of hurt he was causing you.  But being a Christian means we can do as our Lord did on the cross.  We can look with our Lord Jesus and say, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do (Luke 23:34).”  Forgive your dad.

And if your dad is still living, give him a call today.  Write him a letter.  He’s a sinner just like you and just like me.  He’s made mistakes.  He knows it.  Ask God to help you show him the grace that you have as “an heir of the grace of life” and love him and forgive him.  

  • Let’s pray.

“Father we thank You for Your Word.  We thank you for the gift of ‘the grace of life,’ abundant and eternal life that we can have through Jesus Christ.  Abundant and eternal life that we can enjoy as a husband and wife, “being heirs together of the grace of life.”  We pray for ourselves and ask You to work in our hearts repentance from sin, and faith believing in Jesus.  We run to You Christ Jesus, thanking You for always being there for forgiving us.  Amen.”

Response song: I Run to Christ.

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