Brothers, there should be no question what it means to occupy the role of a man as it relates to treating a woman. We know intuitively that everything Peter has said that I've explained and illustrated and applied his preaching to something in us we already know. This is really frankly a call to love our wives as Christ loves his bride the church.
There's your model. Faithful, committed, strong, self-denying, humble love. What does it mean to be a man? If you're discerning and if you're honest, you've come to realize that the images and ideas that the culture presents as manly don't always line up with God's ideal for manhood. Of course, God's way is always right, so real manhood is defined by God. That means that we need to conform our thinking to God's thinking. It also means that we need to know what God thinks. One of the ways biblical manhood is lived out is how men treat women, and that's Stephen's topic today in this message called, The Original Manual on Manhood. Peter writes, You husbands in the same way live with your wives in an understanding way as with someone weaker since she is a woman. You've got to be kidding.
Talk about politically incorrect. Now look, it's 1 Peter 3 verse 7. Peter is defying his culture and ours by the way.
The agenda never changes. You might make several observations from this text that sort of jump out at you. Peter violates the shrine of gender neutrality here by making a statement of gender distinction.
Women, husbands. He clearly says here that women are weaker than men. He also tells men that they're supposed to treat women differently because they are women. This strikes your ears as sexist, bigoted, patriarchal, and all that stuff, right? Peter is also stating that the female sex is essentially genetically and anatomically and inherently different from a man.
Peter would never be invited to speak at the local PTA. At first glance it might sound like Peter is demeaning women. In fact, to our ears trained by our culture it sounds like it, but he isn't. He's doing nothing more than telling men to act like men, women, to be treated, expect to be treated like women. And God's manual on manhood by the way has a lot to do with how a man treats a woman.
A man can clam on a man. Look at how he treats his wife if he's married or women in general. Now Peter, if we go back to the beginning of this verse just to get a running start, he begins it with a command. This isn't a suggestion. You're to live with your wife in an understanding way that is with insight, that is with consideration and deference.
Why? Now Peter adds here because she is weaker. What does this mean, she is someone weaker? Your translation might read she is a weaker vessel, which I prefer. What does it mean that a woman is a weaker vessel or weaker than a man?
Well, it's not that hard really to figure out, as someone said, it's not rocket surgery. I thought that was funny too. This is heavy, isn't it? The word for weaker in the original text, asthenes, relates to the fact that in general, and he's speaking in general terms, the average woman is physically weaker than the average man. He's speaking in general terms about the female sex as contrasted with the male sex.
He says in general terms, if you lined up 125-year-old women over here and 125-year-old men over here and he put a rope in between them and said, okay, now pull, and the men would drag the women into that muddy puddle. Now if you don't like this interpretation, you're left then wondering if Peter is telling us here that women are intellectually weaker or morally weaker or mentally weaker or spiritually weaker or theologically weaker or weaker in their resolve or weaker in their faith. He's not saying any of that.
He's saying something very obvious. Now I had a man tell me recently that this verse clearly teaches that a woman is inferior to a man. That's not what Peter says at all. Inferiority and physical weakness are not the same thing. In fact, the Bible never suggests inferiority. Peter's going to make it very clear later on in the verse, and we'll get to that later, that the woman is equally deserving of being rewarded in the coming kingdom just as believing men. She is a fellow heir in the grace of life, he'll say. Peter, that is delivering a general statement on the physical makeup of the average woman, contrasted with the physical makeup of the average man.
In general terms then, she can't throw the ball as hard or run as fast or lift as much. What's interesting to me also is that the word Peter uses for vessel, in the Greek text, skeuos, is a word that Paul used when he wrote to Timothy, referring to household utensils. And I'm going to come back to that in a minute.
He also used the word in 1 Thessalonians 4 to refer to the physical body, the body as a vessel. So Peter is stating in general terms to husbands and the men in general, we need to be careful and kind and considerate in the way that we treat our wives specifically and women in general. You want to prove you're a man, show it in the way you treat women.
Don't blur the distinctives, by the way. Peter doesn't, the Bible doesn't between men and women. Not intended for us to highlight them. This is the pinnacle of his creative acts, male and female. He wants us to acknowledge them. He wants us to enjoy them. In some ways we share them. He wants us to not remove them, but respect them. He doesn't want us to erase them.
He wants us to exult in them. Referring to women as the weaker sex. By the way, which is the term coined by Peter here. It isn't derogatory. It isn't demeaning. It isn't diminishing the value of women. In fact, Peter is essentially commanding men to treat women with distinction as women. In blunt terms then, you could paraphrase him to say, men don't treat women like a bunch of guys.
They're not guys. Treat them like women. Honor them. Don't exploit them. Don't misuse them. Treat them with courtesy.
Why? Well, for starters, again, he says they happen to be women since she is a woman. So as strange as it sounds, Peter is commanding specifically husbands to treat their wives like women.
Isn't that interesting? He's telling the husband to treat his wife like a woman. You can't do that unless you understand a fixed state and those characteristics that identify in general terms manhood and womanhood. So what would that look like to treat your wife like a woman? I'm sure the ladies could come to this platform and give us about a hundred different ways. I've whittled it down to four for the sake of time.
They all start with the letter A to help us men remember. The opposite, we'll answer it that way. What's the opposite of treating your wife like a woman? Well, the opposite is going to look first of all like apathy. Apathy. You can call it indifference. You can call it unconcern for their needs and their well-being.
You could call it irritation, you know, rather than interest. Criticism instead of commendation. You could think of it as failure of a man to step up to the plate, take his responsibility to provide and protect. There's an old Hebrew proverb that I came across in my study.
One of the authors referred to it from the Talmud that gives this really interesting practical advice. It reads, every husband should eat and drink beneath his means, clothe himself within his means, and honor his wife above his means. And all the women said, treating your wife like a woman is the opposite of apathy. Secondly, treating your wife like a woman is the opposite of absence.
Absent. You could call this a self-centered pursuit where her activities never matter and yours are never missed. This isn't just failing to step up to the plate. This is acting as if there's no plate at all or no ball game to enter. You know, don't bother me with your life.
I've got my own. I loved what one judge did in a recent case. He handed down an unusual sentence to a husband. It was a domestic dispute. It was an argument that he kind of spilled out on the front yard and he eventually was found to be the perpetrator.
It was her birthday and I don't know what happened. It didn't tell it. But evidently, he forgot it by what the judge did. But the judge ended up telling the husband as he stood before him in his courtroom, that he needed to figure out a plan for marriage counseling. But in the meantime, he said this to him, on your way home from this courthouse, you are to pick up some flowers for your wife along with a birthday card. Go home, deliver them to your wife and both of you are to get dressed and you're to take your wife out to dinner to Red Lobster. He actually identified just in case he'd think it's Taco Bell. No, Red Lobster this time.
And after taking her out to Red Lobster for dinner, take her bowling. His attorney jokingly asked does he have to let her win. The judge didn't smile back. He said that if his client failed to comply in any of this, he would be back in court. What was he trying to do to get this man to stop being absent? Treating your wife like a woman is the opposite of apathy and absence, further abuse. You can call it verbal intimidation or physical threats or outright harm. It is using your strength to your advantage to bully and dominate your wife in order to get away. Evidently, what we learned early on as little boys out in the playground when we didn't get our way with our classmates, we learned to push.
We never grew out of. Listen to the words of the Apostle Paul that have fresh meaning in relation to this study. He's writing to the men in the church at Corinth and he makes this statement, act like men.
Stand firm in the faith. Act like men. He's assuming we understand it's a fixed state, that there are distinctives to being a man, so act like a man.
There's no paragraph to say that is what it means. Just act like a man. Act like men.
What a concept. Not act like women or act like boys. Grow up. Act like men. He's not asking men to be macho.
Okay, I'm going to be a man. He's asking men to be mature. And evidently, Paul, like Peter, is challenging every man in the church to this day to grow in maturity and that relates to how we treat women. Acting like a man then is not throwing your weight around.
It doesn't resort to selfish anger by yelling and slamming and throwing name calling and cursing, maybe even hitting. Acting like a man in relation to your wife is using your strength to make sure she is cared for, treated with respect. In fact, I find it interesting, one Greek author pointed out or Greek scholar pointed out in the text that Peter's use of the word for woman here is unusual. Since she is a woman, the word translated woman is an adjective that serves as an abstraction or a principle. In other words, it relates to the femaleness of her. You can understand them to say, since she is feminine.
Be very fitting. Husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way as with a weaker vessel since she is feminine. By the way, that doesn't mean that women aren't as tough as nails. You ever been in a delivery room? How many of you in here are second born children? Raise your hand.
Look around. You are proof that she is as tough as nails to do it again. Peter says, by the way, she's weaker.
He doesn't say she's weak. In fact, I came across this mother's resolve and courage evidenced in her determination. And I thought you would enjoy reading it. It's a bit of a nail biter, but it has a good ending, okay? I'll just tell you ahead of time. I had people fainting in the eight o'clock hour, but here we go.
Since reading this, I haven't been able to forget it. A couple built a home on the banks of a small pond at the headwaters of a creek in Florida, not far from the Gulf of Mexico. Their 12-year-old son, Michael, loved to snorkel. They had a two-acre pond on their property. And one evening, he and two of his cousins went for a swim just after dinner. Oblivious to any danger, they were unaware that an alligator was bearing down on them. Neighbors who were out in the back spotted the alligator and tried to distract it with clapping and shouting and waving their arms. It alerted the cousins, and they made it to shore.
But not Michael. He was snorkeling with his head under the water as he floated peacefully along. When the alligator reached him, it opened its mouth and lunged for Michael's head. It missed, but still gashed his skull, ripping the snorkel mask from his face. Michael began swimming for shore as fast as he could.
He was wearing flippers, and he could swim fairly quickly. Momentarily diverted by the mask, the alligator then spotted him and was after him again. By this time, his mother had run to the water's edge, where her son was in a race for his life, swimming as fast as he could, the alligator gaining on him every second. The mother reached out to grasp her son's hand just as the beast opened its huge jaws and clamped down on Michael's left leg. What followed was a tug of war between an eleven-foot alligator and a five-and-a-half-foot young mother. Clutching her boy's hand, she pulled with every ounce of strength she had until unexpectedly, suddenly the alligator let go. Perhaps the rubber flipper on her son's foot had agitated his throat.
They didn't know, but for whatever reason, she pulled him out to safety. Six months later, his wounds completely healed. Michael was overheard showing his scars to his friends, you know, proud of them. His scar on his scalp, pink, healing. His left leg that had been broken, now mended but scars still visible on his ankle. But the scars he was most proud of, which he showed his friend, were the scars in his hand which had been made by his mother's fingernails. Permanent reminders that she had dug in with everything she had to keep him from being dragged away.
That's one tough lady. Being weaker doesn't mean weak. It doesn't refer to resolve, determination. In fact, Peter's use of the phrase here, a weaker vessel, can be understood in the sense of refinement. In other words, if you understand the word skeuos and how it's used in other places in Scripture, she's weaker in the sense that she has been created a more refined utensil. You could think of it as one author did who paraphrased it, treat your wife like fine china.
That's what he said. You know, there's a difference between a cheap mug and fine china. In fact, the truth is you drink coffee differently from a cheap mug than you do fine china, which is why men prefer cheap mugs like I do. Fine china is handled carefully because of its value.
One author wrote it this way. You can understand this analogy to mean that you're to treat your wife like you would treat an expensive vase. You spend a little money at Walmart, you buy a vase. You spend a lot of money and it's a vase, okay?
Treat her like an expensive vase. See, Peter is essentially challenging husbands that the opposite of that kind of behavior is to be pushy and abusive and domineering and hurtful, to pummel your wife with your words or your hands. That kind of treatment, by the way, isn't something to gloss over or quickly get over.
Men can be bulls in china shops, right? And if the pieces are littered on the floor in your home life, get help. Talk to another brother.
Come to one of the pastors or elders. It isn't something to ignore. It isn't something to excuse on a bad day or even your wife's behavior.
No excuse. That's Adam, by the way, in the garden, right? His mouth is stained with forbidden fruit and God comes and says, what have you done?
He says, ah, she made me. That's a little boy, not a man. Let me add this to women, young and old, if you are being physically verbally sexually abused, what you are experiencing is not your fault. Don't ever believe it. Furthermore, it is not acceptable. And it's not a secret for you to keep. It's not only sinful, it's not only wrong, it's dangerous and destructive and it will only escalate and crush and hurt.
Let the church, let leaders in the church, let other sisters in Christ give you help, assistance. Brothers, there should be no question what it means to occupy the role of a man as it relates to treating a woman. We know intuitively that everything Peter has said that I've explained and illustrated and applied is preaching to something in us we already know. Even our culture knows it's true. This is really, frankly, a call to love our wives as Christ loves his bride, the church. There's your model, faithful, committed, strong, persevering, self-denying, humble love.
That's our goal. That mirrors the creator's love for us, doesn't it? Peter's basically telling husbands specifically, love your wives like Christ loves you. One day Charles Spurgeon, the famous pastor in 19th century London was walking through the English countryside and he was with a friend. As they strolled along, Spurgeon noticed a little small barn with a weather vane on its roof and as they got closer they could make out words that had been engraved by the farmer on that weather vane. It was twisting and turning in the wind. The words were God is love. God is love.
Spurgeon remarked to his friend that he thought that was an inappropriate place for such a message. He said weather vanes are changeable. They're always turning with the wind. His friend responded no Charles, I believe you misunderstand the meaning.
The weather vane is indicating a truth regardless of which way the wind blows. God is love. So Peter would say and Paul would echo it, love your wives like that no matter which way the wind blows. Live with them with kind consideration.
Why? They're weaker, more refined, valuable vessels. They've been created by God to be treated by us like fine china. That's how a real man treats his wife. That's how a real man treats women.
Demonstrating he gets it. This glorious created identity of manhood. Brothers there's never been a better time for men of God to be just that. Men, men of God.
May God help us. That was a message called the original manual on manhood. It comes from Stephen's series on marriage called for better or for worse.
This is wisdom for the heart and we have a gift for you today. Do you find the Bible intimidating? Maybe you've read parts of it but struggled to understand what it means. Maybe you've never attempted to read it because well, it's just too confusing.
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For example, some past topics have included such things as how to forge friendships, what can we know about angels, demons and the spirit world and much more. The magazine also has a daily devotional guide that you can use to remain rooted in God's word every day. A new addition to the magazine is a journal. The journal gives you the opportunity to take some notes as you listen to the wisdom journey or wisdom for the heart. We call the magazine Heart to Heart.
This is a resource that we developed for two reasons. We use it to show our appreciation to all of our wisdom partners. We also send three issues of Heart to Heart magazine as a gift to everyone who asks. We'd like to send it to you if you haven't seen it yet. Go to wisdomonline.org forward slash magazine. That's wisdomonline.org forward slash magazine. On our next broadcast, everyone will bring you the final lesson in this series. So join us for that here on Wisdom for the Hearts.
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