For in this manner, in former times, the holy women who trusted in God also adorned themselves, being submissive to their own husbands, as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord, whose daughters you are if you do good and are not afraid with any terror (1 Peter 3:5-6).
The context of this wonderful passage is Peter's exhortation to wives to be submissive, chaste, and inwardly beautiful by means of a "gentle and quiet spirit" (1 Pet. 3:4). We can be very grateful that God in His kindness to us had His servants include directions specifically to wives. God understands our frame; He speaks directly to our needs and weaknesses. Here in 1 Peter we have much teaching in a very few verses. Peter links our beauty with the hidden person of the heart, and he tells us that God considers a gentle, quiet spirit to be a precious thing. This is how we are to "adorn" ourselves: we are to trust God (vs. 5), be submissive to our own husbands (vs. 5), do good (vs. 6), and be unafraid (vs. 6). These four imperatives are not only important individually, but they seem to be linked.
The holy women in former times trusted in God. What does it mean to trust God? To trust God is to lean on Him, to rely on Him. "Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths" (Prov. 3:5-6). When we trust God, we cease to trust ourselves; we cease to rely upon worldly wisdom. A woman who trusts God is able to acknowledge that all things are under His divine control. A heart that trusts God is a heart that is in submission to God. This trust is based upon God's character. We are able to trust Him because we know that He is the author and finisher of our faith (Heb. 12:2), and because we know that our justification rests solely and completely on the finished work of Jesus Christ. When we trust God, we acknowledge that "all things work together for good to those who love God" (Rom. 8:28).
A woman who trusts God is able to submit to her husband. Why? Because God is in control of all things, even her husband. A woman who trusts God wants to please Him. God has commanded submission. "For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome" (1 John 5:3). Trust in God frees us to obey Him without regret or worry. Where there is worry, there is no trust. A woman can submit to her husband, even if she thinks he is wrong, because she knows that God overrules all to His own purposes. Consider what Joseph said to his brothers when they fell down before him: "But as for you, you meant evil against me; but God meant it for good, in order to bring it about as it is this day, to save many people alive" (Gen. 50:20). A woman does not commit herself to submit to her husband contingent on his ability to make no mistakes. She submits to her husband because she knows that God does not make mistakes!
Within this context of trust and submission, a woman is capable of doing good. Women may do good in countless ways and Timothy shows us several examples. Bringing up children is the first listed in 1 Timothy 5:10. Obviously, a woman who trusts God and submits to her husband will be far more equipped to bring up her children faithfully than the woman who does not. Personally, I am grateful that God looks on my labor in bringing up my children as a means of "doing good." I am grateful that He sanctifies even the most seemingly mundane tasks! Timothy also mentions lodging strangers and washing the feet of the saints as another means of doing good. This means that all our hospitality can be pleasing to God, whether it is extended to those inside or outside the church. Finally, the apostle mentions relieving the afflicted. This general heading can cover all kinds of service.
Notice the order of these good deeds. Our children are first. Next is hospitality. The wife does not have to go outside her domain to "do good." The home is the center of her activities, and these activities can be and should be pleasing to God. Relieving the afflicted may take a woman outside her home, but she can find plenty of good to do right at home.
1 Peter commands a woman who trusts God, submits to her husband, and does good, to be unafraid. The three prerequisites are very important. Trust in God is a great protection from fear because we see God in complete control of our lives. The more a woman studies the Word and comes to understand God's character, the easier it becomes to trust Him. Submission frees a woman from many fears if it is rendered in an atmosphere of faith and trust in God. Recognizing that the husband is responsible for his decisions can free a wife from anxiety over his decisions. Doing one's duties, doing good in and from the home, is another protection from irrational fears. A woman who is busy at home is not an easy prey to shadows and terrors. In our modern society, women are frequently targeted by the media to be fearful. We are regularly barraged with statistics about women -- how many die of breast cancer each year, how many have a rough time through menopause, how many lose their husbands to other women, how many are mugged, how many are killed in car accidents, etc., etc. And in case this is not enough, we can worry over our children. How many are kidnapped, get rare diseases, etc. etc. This is a set-up for fear and worry and anxiety. Do bad things happen in this world? Of course. But do we believe that God is in control or not?
Phobias are given fancy medical names instead of just being called sin. We cater to fears instead of dealing with them biblically. As Christian women, we need to respond biblically, not emotionally. We can worry about many things that can lead to fear. Fear drives out the gentle, quiet spirit that is so precious in God's sight. We are all vulnerable in different areas. But we are not without a Savior, Christ our Lord. We need to look to Him and His Word to become women who are adorned in a manner pleasing to Him.