Broadcasting now. Watch Live.

What God Values in a Woman

Tom Pennington 1 Peter 3:3-6


Perhaps you had the opportunity over the last couple of weeks to read the survey that came out. According to a recent study by Massachusetts-based compensation experts, they discovered that a full-time stay-at-home mother would earn a $134,000 a year if paid for her work. Some of you mothers are tempted to say, "amen." The study found that those mothers who were employed outside the home reported spending, on average, 44 hours a week at their outside job, and about 50 hours a week at their home job, about 94 hours a week. The stay-at-home mother works 92 hours a week, according to the survey. According to the most recent census data, US Census Bureau data, an estimated 26 million women with children under 18 work in the paid labor force, and about 5.6 million are stay-at-home mothers with children under the age of 15. On average, the stay-at-home mother earned a base pay of $46,000 and $88,000 in overtime. Now, some of you ladies may want to ask for a raise. In fact, I learned about this article when I discovered it printed nicely and stapled on my desk at home. Sheila had printed it out and left it there for me to discover.

Seriously, as I thought about this article, I thought about this study, I was reminded of the fact that as men, we are often tempted to undervalue the women God has placed in our lives. And I also went from that thought to another and that is that you ladies face a related temptation. You are tempted to undervalue certain priorities that are yours as a woman and to overvalue others. You see, there are constantly a variety of interests that are fighting for every Christian woman's ears and heart that want to determine what will be the focus of your life. How is it that you as a Christian woman can know what path to choose, what priorities to embrace? Well, I think we would all agree that the most foundational and fundamental question is not what I think as the pastor of this church. It's not what you think. It's not what the culture thinks. Ultimately, the question is: what does God your Creator think?

The only way to discover that, of course, is in His objectively true, eternally certain word, the Bible. The Bible speaks to the issue. What does the Bible say? Specifically, what does the Bible say about what it means to be feminine – specifically, Christian feminine? What does God value in a Christian woman? That's what I want us to look at together this morning. And when I thought of that, only one passage came to mind and that was 1 Peter 3. Turn there with me this morning. Listen to the word of the living God. 1 Peter 3:1:

In the same way, you wives, be submissive to your own husbands so that even if any of them are disobedient to the word, they may be won without a word by the behavior of their wives, as they observe your chaste and respectful behavior. Your adornment must not 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. For in this way in former times the holy women also, who hoped in God, used to adorn themselves, being submissive to their own husbands; just as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord, and you have become her children if you do what is right without being frightened by any fear.

This morning, I want us to turn our attention, especially, to verses 3 and 4 of this passage. The theme of these two great verses is: what God values in a woman.

Now, you'll notice, as I read it, that the passage is specifically addressed to married women. Verse 1 begins, "in the same way, you wives," but the same qualities that distinguish a godly married woman should also be present in a single Christian woman as well. And men, this passage doesn't leave us out because the key qualities of character that are held up here as the ideal for the Christian woman are virtues that are commanded of us elsewhere in scripture. So, there's something in this paragraph for every one of us this morning but essentially, this passage, these two verses that we want to examine together, is a manifesto regarding the priorities of a godly Christian woman.

The flow of Peter's argument here is clear. You'll notice, in verse 3, the flawed priorities some women pursue and in verses 4 – really, highlighted in verse 4 but argued in verses 5 and 6 - the focused priorities the godly woman pursues.

Let's look first at the flawed priorities women pursue. Verse 3. "Your adornment must not be external." Literally, do not let your adorning be external. It's a command. Peter says to all of you ladies, under the authority of Jesus Christ Himself, do not let your adorning be external. Now, the Greek word that's translated "adornment" or "adorning" is a word you'll recognize. It's the word "cosmos." It's the word from which we get the English word cosmetic. The verb form means "to set something in order, to adorn to decorate." In other words, your adorning is whatever you do to make yourself appear beautiful to others. And Peter here says, don't let the way you set yourself in order, don't let the way you make yourself beautiful, the way you adorn or decorate yourself be external. Now, don't misunderstand Peter. He's not forbidding neatness and elegance. This isn't some sort of excuse for sloppiness and slovenliness, which is so much a part of our culture today. You see, our God is a God of order and beauty. You see it in the world He's made. You see it in His handiwork with each of us sitting here today and it should be our goal as Christians to reflect the order and beauty of God - not only in how we live, but also even in how we dress and how we care for ourselves. Listen to the great commentator Simon Kistemaker. He writes, "Peter is not saying that women should neglect their outward appearance. He does not intend that they have unkempt hair or wear no ornaments or dress in shabby clothes. Peter instead objects to the excesses." You see this in other parts of scripture. You remember the end of that famous acrostic poem in Proverbs 31. In verse 22, you find these words, "the virtuous woman makes coverings for herself. Her clothing is fine linen and purple," which, of course, in that day was the clothing of royalty. Nothing shabby about that. And Revelation 19:8 in that beautiful picture of the church being presented as the bride of Christ we're told that, "it was given to her to clothe herself in fine linen, bright and clean." But I think perhaps the most powerful illustration of the fact that it is acceptable for you as a Christian woman to pursue beauty and elegance comes from the picture of how God adorns Israel Himself. Turn back to Ezekiel.

In Ezekiel 16 - which is an amazing chapter and one that, at some point, we'll look at in detail in its context - but in Ezekiel 16, God is declaring His grace in marrying Israel. And listen to what God says He did to Israel as His wife. In verse 9 He says, "I bathed you with water." He found Israel as a cast out child with all the remnants of birth still on her. Verse 9, He says, "I bathed you with water, I washed off your blood from you and anointed you with the oil." Now, watch what God does to Israel, His bride.

I also clothed you with embroidered cloth and put sandals of porpoise skin on your feet and I wrapped you with fine linen and covered you with silk. I adorned you with ornaments, put bracelets on your hands and a necklace around your neck. I also put a ring in your nostril, earrings in your ears, a beautiful crown on your head. Thus you were adorned with gold and silver and your dress was a fine linen, silk, and embroidered cloth you ate fine flour, honey, and oil; so, you were exceedingly beautiful, and advance to royalty. Then your fame went forth among the nations on account of your beauty, for it was perfect because of My splendor which I bestowed on you," declares the Lord God.

God clothed His bride, Israel, in beauty. So, the point here in Peter is not one of prohibition, but it's one of priority. Edwin Blum writes, "Peter's emphasis is not prohibition, but on the proper sense of values."

Jesus takes the same sort of tact in John 6. Turn there for a moment. In John 6, you see the same sort of structure that we see in 1 Peter 3. In John 6:27, Jesus says, "do not work for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures to eternal life." Now, here you have an absolute prohibition. Stop working for the food which perishes. Jesus here, however, was not intending to say that you and I shouldn't work in order to eat. Paul commands us. In fact, Paul says to the Thessalonians that if a man doesn't work, he shouldn't what? he shouldn't eat. Instead, what Jesus is doing here is He is speaking in hyperbole. He's making the absolute contrast to make a point. He's talking about priority. Your pursuit of spiritual food should be so much beyond your pursuit of physical food as to make the one seem non-existent. That's exactly what Peter is doing back in 1 Peter 3. Turn there again. The translators, by the way, of the NAS saw this, and so they inserted the word "merely." "Your adornment must not be merely or only external." The clear implication behind Peter's command here is the reality that this is a common problem for many women. It's a temptation and, frankly, it's not just for women. It's for men as well. But notice that a temptation to be obsessed with the external falls into three timeless categories. He says don't be merely committed to what's external and if you're committed to externals, here's how it expresses itself. Three categories.

First of all, physical beauty, "the braiding of hair." Obviously, that's part of the woman's body and here braiding is not what you do may do at home – that simple sort of braiding of the hair – he describes, instead, an elaborate process that in the first century involved a professional. You see, in first century culture - particularly Roman culture - hairstyles were highly artificial, and ostentatious. They took a lot of time and a lot of attention and can only be executed by professionals. One writer described the problem this way, "on account of their hairstyle, they do not touch their head, being afraid of disordering their hair. Sleep too comes on not without fear less they pull down without knowing the shape of the braid." That, by the way, was written by Clement of Alexandria in the second century.

But the problems of this kind are not relegated to the first and second century. There are many possible manifestations of a preoccupation with physical beauty, with the body. In our day, I just made a brief list of some of the ways that women can be tempted to take their care for their bodies to an extravagant extreme. There's hair. Nowadays, they're not just 'dos and colors and wigs. You can actually add other people's hair to your own to extend it. And then there are cosmetics of various kinds. You go in a department store and they're these huge counters of various kinds and hues and colors of this and that and everything. There're nails. There are nail salons in every strip mall. I saw that in California. I see that here. By the way, guys, they don't sell small pieces of metal in those nail shops that you drive with a hammer. There are obsessions with body shape. Every week – I don't know about you - but every week in my home we receive direct mail and magazines with literally dozens of ads for plastic surgery - you know, to suck this off and to stretch this and tuck that other. And constantly, there's sort of an obsession with the physical beauty, with the body. Physical conditioning. There are gyms, and running clubs, and biathlon and triathlons, and sports of various kinds. And my wife said nobody would understand what I meant but even an exercise started by the procurator of the first century Judea, Pilot, it's called Pilates (I know). And then, for some people, there's the difficulty of deciding what tattoo to get and where to put it. You understand that in our culture there is an obsession, there is a focus on physical beauty, on the body. I am not saying that it's wrong to get your hair done. In fact, we're grateful that you do. It's not unbiblical to paint your nails, nor is it a sin to join a gym, or to run, or whatever it is you do for physical exercise. In fact, if we're not being good stewards of our bodies, it maybe you sin not to.

But where do we cross the line from what is reasonable into an unhealthy preoccupation with the beauty of the body? Well, there were a couple of things that occurred to me that I think are tests.

First of all, if you take pride in your physical beauty and appearance. You take pride in it, it's an obsession. 1 Corinthians. 4:7 says, and this is sort of an all-reaching, all-encompassing statement, "what do you have that you did not receive?" Ever thought about that? What do you have that you didn't receive? And he goes on to say, if you received it, why do you boast as if you did not receive it? If it becomes an object of pride. Then you've crossed the line. I think I can also safely say that you have become preoccupied with the external if you spend more time in a given week caring for your body than you do your soul. We can become easily preoccupied with physical beauty

But there's a second category in which this preoccupation with the external shows itself. Not only in physical beauty in the body itself - whether the hair the shape of the body, etc - but external decoration. Here, it's encapsulated in the words, "wearing gold jewelry." Now we've moved from the body itself to how we decorate the body. Literally, this translates "putting around gold jewelry." It refers to the common first century practice of putting on chains, and bracelets, and rings - some around the neck, some around the ankle, some around the arms, and the toes, and the fingers, hanging ornaments from the ears. There was a preoccupation with external decoration, in particular jewelry. This continues to be a preoccupation for some to this day - whether it's rings, or bracelets, or earrings, or nose rings. You know, this past Wednesday. I was at the hospital. I stopped by there to see Seth and Kirsten as she was being checked in to have their baby. And Kirsten was in the process of being admitted and I happened to be there in the room with the family as the nurse was asking a variety of questions. And one of the questions the nurse asked her was if she had any tongue jewelry. Now, I had to think about that a minute before I realized that she was talking about tongue studs. And I hear, by the way, that they'll pierce whatever it is you want pierced. There are all kinds of external decorations to the body and all of those are included in this category of "wearing gold jewelry." Again, don't misunderstand Peter. He is not restricting Christian women from wearing jewelry or from wearing jewelry made from gold. He's making the point that you should never become preoccupied with how you decorate your body. It's the same that Isaiah saw in his culture. Turn back to Isaiah 3. In Isaiah 3, God speaks very pointedly to the women of Judah. Verse 16, "moreover, the Lord said, 'because the daughters of Zion are proud.'" Here's the issue, it's what's going on in your heart. They're proud. "And walk with heads held high and seductive eyes, and go along with mincing steps, and tinkle the bangles on their feet," drawing attention to themselves for the wrong motives and the wrong reasons. Therefore, "the Lord will afflict the scalp of the daughters of Zion with scabs." Not a very pretty picture. Verse 18:

In that day the Lord will take away the beauty of their anklets, headbands, crescent ornaments, dangling earrings, bracelets, veils, headdresses, ankle chains, sashes, perfume boxes, amulets, finger rings, nose rings, festive robes, outer garments, cloaks, purses, papyrus garments, undergarments, headbands, and veils.

Now it will come about that instead of balsam oil there will be a stench;

Instead of a belt, a rope;

Instead of well-set hair, a plucked-out scalp;

Instead of fine clothes, a robe of sackcloth;

And branding instead of beauty.

There was this preoccupation with the external that showed a sinful heart - preoccupation with the decoration of the body. Is this a preoccupation for you? You need to examine your heart and see, as a Christian woman.

There's a third category of the merely external that Peter comments on here - not only physical body, that is, what you do to the body itself, and not only the external decoration, the jewelry and other things you put on the body - but it's clothing. The third category is clothing.

Back in 1 Peter 3, he makes this point. He says, "putting on dresses." By the way, that literally translates as "putting on clothes." This is yet another way that we know that Peter isn't forbidding these things because, if he were, he'd be forbidden Christian women from putting on clothes which obviously is not something he's going to suggest. Instead, he's referring to dressing in clothes that are intended to draw attention to oneself. That's the concern. That's the problem - is being so preoccupied with the external that you put on clothes to draw attention to yourself. You know what? I thought about this problem this week. It occurred to me that it shows itself in a wild variety of different ways. For some, being preoccupied with clothing means that they can only buy their clothes, and purses, and shoes at some exclusive famous designer boutique. For others, it's a certain high-end department store in the mall where they spend hours a week looking for the latest styles. For still others, it's finding just the right deal at Walmart or Target. And for some, particularly in the younger set, it's finding jeans that look like the first three people who wore them enjoyed them.

Again, there's nothing wrong with shopping in any of those places. Nor is there anything inherently wrong with wearing jeans with holes in the, if they're modest. The issue here is what is going on in your heart. Is having the right clothing that fits your peer group, from the right store too important for you? Has it become an obsession? Do you spend money that you don't have to get them? Do you spend the disproportionate amount of your resources on clothing? Do you find yourself constantly sizing up other women based on the name brand clothes, or shoes, or purses that they have? And why is clothing important to you? Are you looking to make other women envious? Do you want to call attention to yourself from men? Is it an issue of pride and self-promotion? Or can you honestly say that you're simply trying to have an orderly, beautiful appearance for your husband and to reflect well on your Lord? This is the very thing that Paul was encouraging Timothy to teach. Notice 1 Timothy 2. He says, when the church gathers for corporate worship, "I want you to make sure that the women" - verse 9 of 1 Timothy 2 – "to adorn themselves with proper clothing, modestly and discreetly, not with braided hair and gold or pearls or costly garments." In other words, don't dress in such a way as to call attention to yourself. Again, this isn't a prohibition against any of these things, inherently. "But rather, let your clothing be good works, as is proper for women, making a claim to godliness." To call attention to yourself, do it by who you are and the good works you perform rather than what you wear. Peter says, don't let yourself be preoccupied with the external - with physical beauty with external decoration, or with clothing. Those are the flawed priorities that some women pursue.

But Peter, doesn't leave us there. In verse 4, he goes on to describe the focused priorities the godly woman pursues. "But let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the imperishable quality of a gentle and quiet spirit." Peter says, don't let your adornment be merely external but, instead, let your adornment be the hidden person of the heart. Don't be preoccupied with the external. Be preoccupied with the internal. Don't dwell on the body, but on the soul. Don't focus on how you look but on who you are. Let your beauty be the kind of person that you are. And here we get to the crux of the issue. What exactly is the quality that should especially distinguish a Christian woman? Peter tells us she must have a spirit or a disposition that has about it an imperishable quality. Imperishable means not capable of perishing or corruption. It lasts. You see, physical beauty - if you haven't become aware of this yet, you will - physical beauty fades. Gold jewelry breaks. It's lost, stolen. Clothing, every year, goes out of style. It wears out. Its destroyed. So Peter says, don't be preoccupied with that stuff but be preoccupied with something that lasts, something that is not capable of perishing - a quality of spirit that you will always have in time and eternity. Peter defines that kind of spirit or disposition the kind that endures. It's the imperishable quality of a "gentle and quiet spirit." Let's look, for just a moment, at those two twin virtues that Peter says every woman here should pursue.

First of all, a gentle spirit. You know this Greek word. In fact, if you've been here over the last couple of weeks, you know it well. The word translated "gentle" here is the same word that James uses in James 3:13 where it's translated "gentleness." We discovered over several weeks that this word, this Greek word, is filled with meaning. It expresses itself in two different aspects. It expresses itself toward God and it also expresses itself toward people. When this word gentle, or gentleness, expresses itself toward God, it's a calm acceptance of our circumstances, His providence in our lives, as from God and for our good. It's a refusal to complain or to argue. It's submission of our will to God's in terms of the circumstances in which He's placed us. That's what it means to be gentle in reference to God. Toward man, this virtue expresses itself in a humble, gracious, "gentle spirit" toward others - even when wronged. It's gracious. It's gentle with people, concerned about people. How are you doing with gentleness? Do you really believe and is it obvious to the people around you you believe that God is sovereign over everything that happens in your life, that you trust Him? That He is, at the same time, He's sovereign both wise and good and you accept His plans as the best for you. Do you calmly accept your circumstances in life as from God and for your good or do you complain and whine and gripe about all of God's providence in your life - from the family He's given you to your lot in life? What about toward people? Are you known to the people who know you best say that you would be known for showing a gracious, gentle, humble spirit? Is that how you respond to people? Or, instead, are you proud, discourteous, harsh? Peter says the beauty you should be striving to manifest in the power of the Holy Spirit is gentle. It accepts God's providence and it's gracious toward others.

Well, the second pillar of Christian womanhood here - not only a gentle spirit - is what you ought to pursue – what every godly woman ought to pursue but a quiet spirit. Now, I think many well-intentioned Christian women have misunderstood entirely what this means. For many, it means the Christian women should be mousy. You know, they speak softly. You know, when that happens, I want to stay, "would you speak up where I can hear you." That isn't even close to what Peter's describing here. The word for quiet is not the opposite of loud. It literally means "tranquil, undisturbed, calm." Let me show you the only other place in the New Testament where this word occurs in exactly this form. 1 Timothy 2:1, Paul says we are to pray for and to give thanksgiving for kings and for all who are in authority, "so that we may lead a tranquil and (here's our word) quiet life in all godliness and dignity." Tranquil, calm, untouched by disturbances from without. One of my favorite memories as a kid growing up in Mobile, Alabama, as we were only about an hour and a half to two hours from the Gulf. And occasionally, on Saturday mornings during the summer, my older siblings would get the idea of, "let's go to the beach for Saturday." And so, we load up the car and take the drive over to Gulf Shores, Alabama. Many Saturday mornings, I remember that two-hour drive and, you know, the old eight-track tapes playing in the tape player, and wind blowing through the windows. My uncle had a beach house over at Gulf Shores. The sand there was white and fine and the Gulf water was always warm and beautiful. And so, there was no better way for a kid to spend a Saturday than that. But there were a few times, I remember, when we got to the Gulf and the water of the Gulf - normally fairly calm - was too rough for me as a young kid. And so, on those days we would drive really almost literally across the street from the Gulf to a large saltwater lagoon that was fed by the Gulf. Sometimes, even when the Gulf was so rough that the undertow was too bad for a young kid like myself to play there, right across the street in the lagoon, because the roughness on the other side was caused by some distant storm and the waves would come in from that storm, on the other side of the road in the lagoon, the lagoon would be as smooth as a sheet of glass. Those two bodies of water, I think, are profound illustrations of the two ways Christian women live their lives. Some live in a state of constant upheaval - whipped here and there by the latest trauma and they traumatize everyone else around them. Others can face exactly the same circumstances but be as calm as a ripple less lake because they have a quiet spirit. They have a calm, tranquil spirit.

Peter says, let your beauty be the hidden person of the heart. Your inner man be known for a gentle and quiet spirit that shows itself in what you say and how you act. And then notice back in 1 Peter 3, he adds at the end of verse 4 these amazing words, "which is precious in the sight of God." I'm afraid we've forever lost the English word "precious" thanks in no small part to Precious Moments figurines. But the English word, like the Greek word that it translates, literally means "costly, expensive, of great value." Think about that for a moment, ladies. God Himself - according to Peter - God Himself considers these qualities to be extremely valuable, to be priceless in those women who know Him. Now there's something worth pursuing. There's something worth giving your time and energies to. By the way, men, these virtues are not feminine virtues. As the commentator D Edmond Hebert explains, these same qualities shone brilliantly in our Lord. You can see it in the gospel accounts. These words are used of Him.

So, for all of us - men and women alike - how can we pursue this? You're sitting there as I was when I finished the study saying, "Well, that's great. I see the value of it. I see that it's valuable to God, but how do I get there? How can I develop these qualities of spirit?" Well, Peter gives us several hints, I think, in verses 5 and 6. In verses 5 and 6 you have an argument from Peter by example for the importance of what, he's just taught in verses 1-4. In verse 5, he uses the women of the Old Testament who could be called "holy women" and in verse 6, he specifically identifies Sarah, Abraham's wife. But listen carefully. As Peter presents these examples, I believe he gives us several hints as to how Christian women and men can develop a gentle and a quiet spirit. I think the path to a gentle and quiet spirit is buried in these two verses, verses 5 and 6. There're really five and I'll give them to you very quickly. Five paths, if you will, to a gentle and quiet spirit.

Number one, by the grace of salvation. Notice, they're called holy women. "For in this way, in former times, the holy women." Also, that's a title for those who have been changed by God's grace. You see, it is impossible to manifest these qualities without a changed heart and God alone can change your heart and He does it by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone. Let me promise you something. If you have never bowed your knee to Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, then you will never have a gentle and quiet spirit which is precious in God's sight. It's impossible. It's only possible for those whose heart God has changed at the deepest level.

There's a second path here to a gentle and a quiet spirit. Notice verse 5, by hoping in God. These holy women, "who hoped in God." They fixed their hope on God alone. Let me tell you, if your hope is on anything in this world, you will not be able to have a gentle, quiet spirit. If your hope is on your husband, on your family, on your children, on anything in this world, then you will not have a quiet and gentle spirit because we live in a flawed imperfect world filled with simple people and they will always mess up your plans and disrupt your life. The only way to stay calm in the middle of that is to have your hope fixed on God.

There's a third path here to a gentle and quiet spirit. It's by submitting to the biblical authorities God has placed in your life. Now here, obviously, the reference is specifically to wives and their husbands. In verse 5, "being submissive to their own husbands just as Sara obeyed Abraham calling him lord." Submission is nothing more than the submission of your will to the will of another. It's allowing your will to be governed by the will of someone else who has been put over you in authority. You see, God has set up an authority structure in this world. There's an authority structure of government over us. There's an authority structure of elders over the church. There's an authority structure in the home of fathers over their wives and children, and of parents over their children. The world is full of authority structures that God has established and when you and I rebel against that, we are dooming ourselves to a life that is not gentle and quiet. It's only when we submit our wills to the wills of those God has placed over us that we can pursue this kind of lifestyle. I'm not talking about giving in to sin. I'm talking about most of the affairs of life where we're not asked by our authorities to sin. We are to submit ourselves to those authorities. And, if we refuse to do so, then we will not lead a quiet and gentle life. In fact, by the way, I read you 1 Timothy 2. Paul makes that point there, doesn't he? He says pray for those in leadership. Why? So that you can live a quiet a tranquil life. By having the right relationship to those in authority and their having the right relationship to you that you can be promised a quiet and tranquil life.

Number four: another path to a gentle and quiet spirit: by doing what is right. Notice in verse 6 it says, "Sarah obeyed Abraham calling him lord; and you have become her children if you do what is right." This means simply striving to obey God's word. How do we know what's right? How do you know what's right? The only way, you know what's right is through the word of God. And so, this is a call to obedience to the word of God and if you will live in obedience to God's word, then regardless of what's going on around you, you can live a life of gentleness and quietness.

And number five: by not tolerating the presence of fear. Notice the end of verse 6, "you've become her children if you do what is right without being frightened by any fear." You see, living like this can immediately make us wonder what's going to happen if I do this. I've talked to wives who, when I go through this passage and explain what submission is about, their immediate response is, "but if I do that, what's going to happen to me?" They're afraid. Peter says, don't live in fear. Fear only God. Say no to that fear. Do what's right and don't be frightened. Don't be terrorized by any fear. Don't be intimidated by fear. If God is who He claims to be, and if He is in charge as He says He is, then what do you have to fear?

Those five paths: grace of salvation, hoping in God, submitting to Biblical authority, doing what is right, not tolerating fear. Those five paths will lead you to a gentle and quiet Spirit, which is precious, valuable in the sight of God. My prayer for you today is that you will embrace, not the flawed priorities that some women pursue - focusing on the external, on physical beauty, on external decoration, on clothing - but instead giving your time and attention to the hidden person of your heart, the inner person that you are pursuing that imperishable quality at permanent quality of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is valuable, which God values in a woman. Let's pray together.

Father, we thank you so much for Your word. We would be lost without it. If we follow the dictates of our own minds or the dictates of those around us of the culture in which we live, we would find ourselves hopelessly straying from Your divine will and purpose. And yet, You have given us Your will in Your word. Thank You for this clear passage, the challenge that it presents to all of us. Father, I pray that You would help those women here this morning who are Christian women. Help them to desire, to pursue what You value and not what they value or the world around them values. And Father, I pray as well for those who this morning who may not know You, who have never bowed their knee to Jesus Christ. They've never repented of their sins, they live today under the guilt that comes with unforgiven sin. Father, I pray that today would be the day when they would turn to You and find You gracious and merciful, forgiving, abundant in loving kindness, willing to receive us as sinners and to forgive and to make us Your own children. Lord, make today be the day when they turn to You in faith, embracing Your Son as their Lord, their Savior, becoming His disciple. We pray that You accomplish these things for Your own glory and for the glory of Your Son, in whose name we pray. Amen.