Most of us desire to live lives that please God. The apostle Paul at the end of his life said, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith….” (2 Timothy 4:7). Life is not easy. Life is difficult. Sometimes life is hard. What are the virtues that impress God? What is the type of life that God honors? 1 Peter chapter 3 verse 4 lists two virtues that impress God.
In 1 Peter 3 God is addressing women. The principles laid down in these verses apply to us men also. We can learn valuable lessons from these verses! Peter begins with the negative. He said, “Your adornment must not be merely external- braiding the hair, and wearing gold jewelry, or putting on fine apparel” (verse 3). God is not forbidding these things. He is simply saying that the external must not be our focus.
The godly woman of Proverbs 31 was dressed in fine linen and purple. The Lord Jesus will dress His bride (the Church) in fine linen. This fine linen is described as “bright and clean” (Revelation 19:8). Fine linen is expensive and beautiful cloth. Bright means glistening, shining and radiant. Clean means pure.
There is nothing wrong with braiding the hair or gold jewelry or nice clothing. God gives us all things richly to enjoy. However, the godly person does not focus on the external but the internal. We are not to focus on the temporal but the eternal.
Verse 4 lists two virtues God honors. Peter says, “….but let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the imperishable quality of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is precious in the sight of God.” There are two virtues that are imperishable. They last. They endure. They never wear out. They never fade away.
The first virtue is a gentle spirit. How do we know if we have a gentle spirit? A gentle spirit expresses itself toward God and toward people. Toward God it is an acceptance of God’s providence in our lives. It is not complaining about circumstances and events. A gentle spirit says, “God, whatever You send into my life is for Your glory and my highest good.”
Joseph in the Old Testament had a gentle spirit toward God. His brothers hated him and desired to kill him. They sold him into slavery. Joseph forgave them and said, “You meant it for evil but God meant it for good” (Genesis 50:20).
God worked through miracles in the past. God performed miracles through people like Moses, Joshua, Elijah, Elisha, Peter and the apostles. God primarily works today through providence. God supernaturally weaves together events in our lives. A gentle spirit does not complain about those circumstances. It is a calm acceptance of God’s will.
A quiet spirit towards people results in gentle, gracious responses. Even when wronged, a quiet spirit forgives others and loves others. Jesus experienced the worst treatment of any person. He did nothing wrong. He lived a perfect life. The Lord Jesus taught the truth. He banished disease and illness from the land of Israel. His reward was crucifixion. On the cross Jesus made seven statements. His very first statement was, “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34). Jesus prayed and asked forgiveness for the four Roman soldiers assigned to the crucifixion detail. He demonstrated a gentle spirit.
The second virtue is a quiet spirit. Peter said, “A gentle and quiet spirit which is precious in the sight of God” (verse 4). Many people do not understand a quiet spirit. A quiet spirit is not being a door mat! It is not getting stepped on or being weak. No. A quiet spirit requires tremendous strength.
A quiet spirit means “tranquil, undisturbed, calm.” Right now Hurricane Dorian is pummeling the Bahamas and headed toward the United States. The hurricane pummeled the Bahamas. The main airport is under six feet of water. Over 13,000 homes were destroyed. Food will be needed for 60,000 people.
The same events come into two people’s lives. One person is devastated and upset and out of control. The other person is calm, tranquil and undisturbed. The second person has a quiet spirit.
How do we develop a gentle and quiet spirit? How do we develop these virtues in our lives that impress God? The key is the person of Jesus. It begins by hearing Jesus (salvation) and then learning Jesus (sanctification). It starts by understanding the cross. Jesus died to give us peace with God. He took our sins upon Himself. The Father accepted His perfect sacrifice and raised Him from the dead.
Jesus not only died for the sheep- He also cares for the sheep. As a loving shepherd Jesus provides, protects and guides His people. Through the Bible we learn Christ. Learning and meditating on Jesus produces a gentle and quiet spirit.
We live in a chaotic, angry age. Our age also worships physical beauty. A famous country music song is titled, “That Don’t Impress Me Much.” God is instead impressed with a gentle and quiet spirit. Let’s build these great virtues into our lives!
Ethan Hansen is a pastor at Faith Bible Fellowship in Big Lake.