I Peter 3:3-4
“And let not your adornment be merely external – braiding the hair, and wearing gold jewelry, or putting on dresses; 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.”
As a young believer, this verse really annoyed me.
I know. I shouldn’t talk about Scripture like that. It sounds disrespectful. Maybe even sacrilegious. I am not usually the kind of Christian who picks and chooses convenient Scriptures, because I know better than that. But this one really got me. Not the whole thing, mind you, just that one irritating part right in the middle of verse 4: “a gentle and quiet spirit.”
My problem was simple: I didn’t have a gentle and quiet spirit, so I figured I must not be precious in God’s sight.
What really troubled me was that if God wanted me to have a gentle, quiet spirit, then why did He give me such a big mouth? This was the ultimate rejection: the boys like the pretty, perfect ones, and God likes the quiet, gentle ones. I was pretty sure I was doomed for life and for eternity. Oh, I knew I was going to heaven, I just figured I was getting there by the skin of my teeth.
My spirit was neither gentle nor quiet; my spirit was restless.
I longed to know things.
I longed to understand.
And most of all, I longed to be understood.
The quiet, perfect people I knew weren’t restless. They did what they were told and didn’t ask a lot of questions. I, on the other hand, was constantly asking questions about anything that seemed worth questioning, which was just about everything.
I wondered why God gave me this innate desire to converse and question and know if He wanted me to be quiet. I mean, I know the Christian life is all about contradictions, (die to live, lead to serve, give to receive) but this was really too much. Since God had made me with a big mouth, He was just going to have to put up with it. Because after all, you can’t change the way you’re made.
Oh, but God can.
Other Scriptures gradually helped to shed more light on what God really expects of me.
God doesn’t want me to be quiet, God wants me to live quiet.
He wants me to have a gentle spirit: gentle towards myself, gentle towards others, gentle towards Him. The quietness of a gentle spirit is able to perceive the value of silence.
Silence used to scare me, because I did not have true peace. But the peace of God brings security in silence that restores my soul, because it allows me to sense the leading of the Spirit.
It is hard to hear Him when I am doing all the talking.
Psalm 46:10 has become a life verse; “Be still, and know that I am God.”
I imagine the Lord placing His hand over my mind and my mouth, not in the harsh way that others may want to silence me, but tenderly, as a loving Father, reminding me that I don’t have to work so hard to be acceptable to Him. And when I silently obey, He rests His tender hand on my anxious heart and stills it, until it beats in time with His.
1. I Peter 3:3-4 from the New American Standard Bible
2. Psalm 46:10 from the New International Version, 1984 edition