We come face to face with an
unrealistic idea of beauty at every turn. The lingering feeling of never measuring up escalates when we compare ourselves to other women or realize the miracle cream didn’t perform one on the wrinkles or watch television commercials (especially with our husbands) of women dressed in a purple scarf selling perfume to entice the opposite sex. The pursuit of outward beauty is exhausting.
But one day, not too far away, we will come face to face with our Creator, who defines true and everlasting beauty as a quiet and gentle spirit. And in this, we can rest.
Where Does the Bible Tell Christian Women to Have a Gentle and Quiet Spirit?
In 1 Peter 3:3-4, Peter says Christian women should focus on inward beauty, not outwardly. Leading up to this passage, we see Peter urging Jewish believers to live so Gentiles would notice their godly behavior and ultimately glorify God (1 Peter 2:12).
Peter continues the theme of honorable behavior by urging them to submit to human authority (1 Peter 2:13) and to honor everyone, loving their brothers and sisters, fearing God, and honoring the king (v.17).
Choosing honorable behavior is unattainable in our strength, but in Christ, we possess freedom, for we are no longer bound to sin but made alive in His righteousness. With this freedom, however, comes a responsibility to live as free people without using it for evil (1 Peter 2:16).
Laying the groundwork for his profound definition of beauty in 1 Peter 3:3-4, Peter points to Jesus as our example of living a life of humility (1 Peter 2:21-24). He was insulted but chose not to retaliate. He suffered excruciating pain but made no threats, entrusting Himself to God, who is just.
And with that, 1 Peter 3 begins with these words:
“Wives, in the same way, submit yourselves to your own husbands so that, if any of them do not believe the word, they may be won over without words by the behavior of their wives, when they see the purity and reverence of your lives. Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and wearing gold jewelry or fine clothes. Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight.”
It’s no secret that “submit” is a dirty word in our society—and, unfortunately, in some Christian circles. But in the same way, following God’s command to forgive others doesn’t mean we give a seal of approval for the offense. Submitting to our husbands isn’t saying we approve of the decisions or commending him if he’s made a poor choice. God commands us to submit not because we are inferior, less capable, or less spiritual than our husbands. He commands us to submit because He calls us to trust Him and the design of order He put into place for our good.
Jesus showed humility and submitted to the Father’s will. How could we not desire the same?
1 Peter 3:1-4 emphasizes that behind the command for wives to submit to their husbands is the desire to win them over by the wives’ behavior, indicating the husband is most likely an unbeliever or has strayed from the path of faithfulness. Perhaps the wives in Ancient Israel secretly hoped a new dress, brighter lipstick, or fancy hairdo would soften their husbands’ hearts. And if we’re honest with ourselves, maybe we do, too.
But Peter says actual change is never swayed by outer appearances but rather by the inner character, described as the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit.
What Does Gentle and Quiet Mean in the Verse’s Original Language?
The Greek word for gentle, or “meek,” is praus, revealing an attitude of warmth, patience, and kindness. Unlike men and women who are prone to anger quickly or be temperamental, those who are meek, although faced with similar challenges, choose to control their responses, requiring the type of power only the Holy Spirit provides.
The Greek word for “quiet” is hisuchios. It describes one who chooses words wisely, remains quiet when provoked, and trusts God to resolve difficult situations.
A woman with a gentle and quiet spirit is not a doormat but a strong, spiritually mature woman, not one who is weak or timid. Anyone can spurt out words, but when a woman, specifically a wife in this context, chooses to remain stable and calm when many would be shaken, her faith reflects complete faith and trust in God.
No outward adornment can match the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit. Our culture or a non-believing husband may not value this spirit, but it is of great worth to our Heavenly Father.
“Find comfort knowing that He sees you” (Genesis 16:14-15). He sees when you remain gentle when rattled by another’s actions. He sees when you make wise choices with your words. God highly values your desire to please Him over momentary relief, and the blessings of your obedience will carry into future generations.
When we model modesty and a desire to cultivate a gentle and quiet spirit before our children and grandchildren, we teach them what truly matters.
What Does the ‘Gentle and Quiet Spirit’ Passage Tell Christian Husbands to Do?
In 1 Peter 3:7, Peter turns his attention to the husbands:
“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.” (ESV)
Peter chose the Greek word homoios, meaning likewise or in the same way, when referring to submission as the husbands live with their wives. Honoring her and being considerate, respectful, and understanding did not define most husbands of this day, so Peter’s call to return their wives’ respect and consideration was a radical command.
It’s worth noting that Peter refers to the wife as a weaker vessel, so both she and her husband are vessels. She is not described as weak, but weaker, as God designed. Both women and men are created in God’s image (Genesis 1:27) and hold the same value in God’s eyes.
Peter desires husbands to see their wives as more than the mother of their children. Just as she is considerate of him, he is to be thoughtful, honoring her while also respecting her as a glorious fellow heir of God.
God closes verse seven with a warning. If husbands do not exhibit honor and understanding as they live with their wives, their prayers will be hindered.
Both husband and wife are to grow in humility, honor one another, and grow in Christ-like maturity.
Do Christian Women Always Need to Have a Gentle and Quiet Spirit?
Christian women always need a gentle and quiet spirit, for these qualities are a work of the heart, and all of life flows from the heart. (Proverbs 4:23). Our roles as mothers, daughters, sisters, ministry leaders, Bible teachers, co-workers, etc., are only as solid and sound as the state of our hearts.
Your personality may seem the opposite of a gentle and quiet spirit, leading you to believe you can’t have it both ways, but this isn’t true. God uniquely wires every woman with different giftings and talents, each requiring a variety of personalities.
For example, a gregarious woman enjoys greeting newcomers on Sunday mornings, while other women delight in preparing the Lord’s Supper behind closed doors. Or a woman with the gift of exhortation speaks truth boldly, often in uncomfortable situations, but does so with love and compassion. Each of these women can have a gentle and quiet spirit empowering them to fulfill the role God has called them to fulfill.
Consider the wise woman in 2 Samuel 20:16-21 who called out to Joab a peaceful solution as he was preparing to destroy the city of Abel-Bethmaach. He listened to her and agreed. God used her boldness to bring peace and save many lives.
Or Abagail, Nabal’s wife, who humbly pleaded to David not to act hastily on his desire to kill her husband (1 Samuel 25:24-31). David agreed and blessed her for good judgment (v. 32-33).
Having a gentle and quiet spirit doesn’t mean we can’t have a voice that carries across a field or shies away from standing up for injustice. Be the woman God created you to be while also remembering that God doesn’t command anything of us that He doesn’t equip us to fulfill. With His help, we can cultivate a gentle and quiet spirit regardless of how we are wired.
A gentle, quiet woman is also better equipped to confront their husband when needed. As seen from the examples above, when we share our thoughts, concerns, and feelings with our husbands, we are to do so respectively and with humility.
Does the ‘Gentle and Quiet Spirit’ Completely Forbid Any Makeup or Jewelry?
Having a gentle and quiet spirit does not completely forbid us from wearing makeup or jewelry. The New American Standard Bible uses the word “merely” in verse 1 Peter 3:3. “Your adornment must not be merely the external, such as braiding the hair, wearing gold jewelry, or putting on apparel…”
If you enjoy wearing makeup or jewelry or learning new hairstyles, that’s fine. However, outward appearance is not a priority in our lives or a way to gain attention. What matters most is the state of our heart, cultivating a gentle and quiet spirit, and caring more about what pleases God than man.
Billy Graham once said during a sermon, “Every person’s checkbook is a theological document. It tells you who and what they worship.” Our calendars are truth-tellers, too.
Are we spending above our means to buy the latest fashions, miracle creams, or popular jewelry while coming up short when helping to provide for Christians on the mission field or tithing? It may indicate that our priorities are skewed and need a spiritual makeover.
What are Some Ways to Cultivate a Gentle and Quiet Spirit?
- Pray for the Holy Spirit’s help and remain alert to opportunities to put His wisdom into practice.
- Practice pausing before you speak in day-to-day interactions, and use your words wisely.
- Spend time with women who reflect a gentle and quiet spirit. Remain teachable, ask questions, and pray for one another.
- Read the book of Proverbs every month. Thirty-one chapters of wisdom work well with the calendar.
In closing, do you believe God sees and hears your deepest needs? It’s a vital question we must ask ourselves because this unwavering trust in God softens the soil to cultivate a gentle and quiet spirit in a woman’s heart.
A Prayer to Have a Gentle and Quiet Spirit
Heavenly Father, I can’t be the woman You designed me to be in my strength. Thank You for Your Holy Spirit’s power to transform my heart and make me more like Jesus. His humility and desire to please You above all things is also my desire, so I pray for a teachable heart that is pliable and receives Your truth above all the worldly chatter. I long to be a woman with a gentle and quiet spirit, knowing it will glorify You and bless our family and generations to come. Amen.