3Let not yours be the [merely] external adorning with [elaborate] interweaving and knotting of the hair, the wearing of jewelry, or changes of clothes; 4But let it be the inward adorning and beauty of the hidden person of the heart, with the incorruptible and unfading charm of a gentle and peaceful spirit, which [is not anxious or wrought up, but] is very precious in the sight of God. – 1 Peter 3:3-4
Often as women we have heard and been taught this passage of Scripture as a pattern for a Godly woman. More often than not, it has been delivered as yet another “submission to authority” directive, presenting to us one more insurmountable struggle, which hits us directly in the heart. In our pursuit to attain the “women of old piety” we set ourselves up for yet another failure.
My mother considered herself Catholic until she was introduced to a Pentecostal Church. The Apostolic Lighthouse, I will never forget it. Don’t cut your hair or you’ll go to hell! Don’t wear jewelry or you’ll go to hell! If you wear anything other than culottes, skirts or dresses, you guessed it, you’re going to hell. Salvation by grace: What’s that? Free gift of God: how much does it cost? We would be at Church until two in the morning many times. This was one of those, bobby pin flying churches. But this is where I met Jesus.
We moved out of state and we had to find another church. We found a United Pentecostal Church that eventually became our home. Mom led music; we were active, still no pants, no make-up, jewelry, etc. She was serving God with everything she had, including an abusive, addicted spouse that would often leave us at the mercy of the church’s support: spiritually, mentally, physically, emotionally and financially. But this is where I was baptized!
At some point, despite my mother’s devotion to the church, its rules, and her submission to her spouse, the Pastor informed her that she needed to give up her position in music ministry to honor her husband. Apparently, at some point, my step father had informed the Pastor that his addiction and his abuse were directly related to that. This broke my mother.
I remember my mother telling me and my younger brother the night before, to pack our favorite things because she was going to wake us up in the middle of the night, we were leaving. You never saw two children more quiet and in stealth mode than he and I! We were finally going to be free.
I want to share something with you. I was almost twelve years old when we left. I have only been in Church three times with my mother since then: Once on Easter, once the Christmas after my sister died and once for Poppy’s funeral. My sister’s funeral was not even held in a church.
My mother loves the Lord! She can quote the Word. She has even attended the Assemblies of God down the road from her house and started to make some connections over the past several years.
My brother knows plenty about God, but does not serve God: Two children, raised in the same home, same situation, same life on two separate paths. We, my mother, my brother and myself, journeyed together, scarred together have made different choices and gone different directions.
Before I go on here, I would like to clarify something, todays Scripture does not say that make-up, jewelry, nice clothes are a sin! I challenge anyone who says these things are sinful to read the Book of Esther, read the lengths she went through in her process to find favor before the king. Look at the records of Sarah’s beauty. Isaiah 52:1 is a cry for Jerusalem to awake and put on her beautiful garments!
Excuse me, but appearance does count for something. Your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit! Read the intricate details of the Tabernacle in Exodus and Solomon’s Temple in 1 Kings. These were made by man’s hands. You were made by God’s hands! Psalm 139:19
The key word here is “merely”. Don’t be likened to the hypocrites in Matthew 23:25
25Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, pretenders (hypocrites)! For you clean the outside of the cup and of the plate, but within they are full of extortion (prey, spoil, plunder) and grasping self-indulgence.
It is what your temple is housing that is the most important thing!
We have to come to a place where we recognize the incredible responsibility that has been entrusted to us. The Bible is not just a book! Harry Potter and his magic spells have been more powerfully portrayed at times than the Bible.
12For the Word that God speaks is alive and full of power [making it active, operative, energizing, and effective]; it is sharper than any two-edged sword, penetrating to the dividing line of the breath of life (soul) and [the immortal] spirit, and of joints and marrow [of the deepest parts of our nature], exposing and sifting and analyzing and judging the very thoughts and purposes of the heart. – Hebrews 4:12
Even children can be taught to learn Scripture to earn their badge in Church groups! Prizes are motivating! But does it have a lasting affect and what kind?
If you are constantly beating someone over the head that their way of life is going to send them to hell, you’d better be checking your own life. It’s highly likely that the very person you are “witnessing” to is thinking, “Well, we can enjoy the ride together then”!
If you have been hurt, wounded, degraded or damaged by someone’s misuse or abuse of Scripture. I am so sorry. I wish I could reach out, wrap my arms around you and tell you it’s going to be alright. Not to sound cliché, but Jesus does love you, more than you can even imagine.
God have mercy on all those knowingly or unknowingly who have damaged others with twisted Scriptures.
Would you try to shoot a gun without at least being familiar with it? How about driving a boat? Do you attempt to put something together without at least skimming the directions?
The Word of God is sharper than any two-edged sword! Are you going to pick it up and swing away at someone’s life without knowing the fullness of what you are doing? Are you going to let someone do that to you?
Knowing God and His Word is like wielding a machete that can cut the vines in the jungle that threaten to choke the life out of the one’s that you love. Or like the Pharisee’s who had the appearance of knowledge, clean cup on the outside, that same machete can be used to chop people to bits and leave them in the jungle to die.
Are you fighting for those you love or are you fighting against them? My life with my mother turns to Scripture when she brings it up: The same with my brother. Too much talk leads to lockdown. The greatest gift I can offer them is to bring them to the healing arms of the Father in prayer. Remember the Word of Jesus:
28Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy-laden and overburdened, and I will cause you to rest. [I will ease and relieve and refresh your souls.] -Matthew 11:28