“…even if some do not obey the word, they, without a word, may be won by the conduct of their wives.” 1 Peter 3:1
When you gave your life to Jesus Christ, you were transferred from darkness into the light of the glory of God. Your husband is still in that darkness. When Peter tells us to submit to these men who choose not to believe in Jesus Christ, he also tells us that we are not to speak to them about it. This for me was a difficult passage to grasp. I am a dive in head first kind of personality, so when I gave my life to Jesus Christ I went all in. I held nothing back, and preached to every person I could. But my husband was not ready to hear what I had to say, and the more I tried to tell him about Jesus the farther away from me he went.
Peter tells us that we are to win them with our conduct and not our words. What does he mean? He means that we are to be the light to their darkness. The phrase, do not obey the word, means that they choose not to be persuaded, that they refuse to believe what we are saying about Jesus Christ. They choose to disregard the Word of God, and follow the way of the world. The more we talk about Jesus Christ, the less they are going to listen.
Think back for a minute about your own life before Christ. Were you ready to receive any and all preaching that was brought to you? Were you willing to listen to that one person who always talked to you about Jesus Christ? I know I wasn’t. In fact, I rejected the idea that there was a God at all, let alone one that would choose to die for me. But He did, and it was through the faithful actions of loving believers that I came to know Jesus Christ. It was not what they said, but how they lived that made me question whether or not this Jesus was real. Our husbands are no different.
Jesus came to “give light to those who sit in darkness and the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace.” (Luke 1:79) Jesus came to clearly show us who He is and who He desires to be for us. He made Himself known to us through His Word, and His deeds upon this earth. If Jesus had just came and preached and then left, most of us would probably not be believers. But Jesus came and lived before us as God, and showed us the light of His love through His willing death on the cross. We believed not only because of what He said, but because of what He did.
Our husbands choose to sit in the same darkness that we once did. They choose ignorance over obedience, and that is their choice. God does not force Himself upon anyone, He did not force you to become a Christian, and He will not force your husband to believe either. The more we try to preach at our husbands, the less likely they will respect Christ. Our words and efforts to try to save them actually hinder the power of God working in their hearts. Trust God and let God have his way with your husband’s heart.
“For it is the God who commanded light to shine out of darkness, who has shown in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.” (2 Corinthians 4:6 italics mine) The only light that our husband needs is the light of Jesus Christ. Peter tells us to live out our faith before them, and Paul tells us to give it to them. Your husband is walking in darkness; the only light he sees is you. The light referred to in 2 Corinthians 4:6 means a radiated brightness. The light that God placed in your heart when you gave Him your life is the same light that your husband needs to see.
We are not called to preach to our husbands. We are called to live as lights in the midst of their darkness. They need to see who Jesus is through your walk with Him. A pastor of mine once said, “You may be the only Bible people ever read, and you may be the only Jesus people ever see.” This is true of our husbands as well.
It is not about what we say, for the less we say the better. It is about how we live before them as Christians, as true followers of Jesus Christ. The same God who commanded the light to shine in the dawn of creation is the same God who wants to shine through you. He wants to fill your heart with the light of the knowledge of Jesus Christ so that your husband can see Jesus, not just hear about Him. We should desire to share this light with them, to show them through our actions, through our conduct, who Jesus is and who Jesus wants to be for them.
Paul tells us that “you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light.” (Ephesians 5:8) You and your husband most likely did a lot of immoral things together. For me and my husband there were many times where we would drink excessively, curse, and do all manner of things that were ungodly. When I became a Christian, these things passed away and I began to live for God. My husband was not understanding of this, and sought to bring me back into some of these old habits. This can be difficult for us as wives, because we have drawn a line that once was not there. Our husbands are going to try us and our faith. Do not be ignorant of this, but be ready to give an answer as to why you no longer desire to do these things.
Peter reminds us that it is not our words, which means that we have to be careful not to be the Holy Spirit in their lives. We do not judge or condemn them for their choices, because we too once made these same choices. But we now live before them as the light of Christ. We show them a better way; we give them other opportunities to be with us that does not include immoral behaviors. We show them that we love them, in spite of their current actions, and we do not judge or condemn them, but that we forgive them as Christ forgives them.
Being a light to your husband’s darkness is not an easy task. It begins with submission, it begins with letting go of your needs and your desires and putting his first. It is not what we say, but how we live before them that ministers to them and allows God to work in their hearts. It is through our behaviors and our conduct that our husbands see Jesus. The more we try to preach the less effective we will become. When we release our husbands to the Lord God and we are obedient to what He is telling us to do, then and only then will the true beauty of your marriage begin to shine through. It is not what you say that will make the difference; it is what you do and how you live before him that will allow him to see Jesus for himself.
Don’t try to be the Holy Spirit, let God be God and you be the light that He has called you to be. Not only will your husbands be blessed, but you and your children as well. Jesus did not come to condemn the world, and neither should we. Be the light to his darkness, be the hope that he needs to see and walk out your salvation before him in fear and trembling.
Be who you are in the Lord. I used to read my Bible and talk about Jesus all the time around my husband. I didn’t talk at him about Jesus, but I did not stop being a Christian at home just because my husband was not. I was a new believer, so I was on fire for the Lord Jesus. I never let that fire go out just because my husband was around. I prayed, I read, I studied and I lived before my husband the life that God was teaching me to live. I used to write scriptures that spoke to my heart down on index cards and hang them up where I could see them. I put them up in the kitchen above the stove, over the sink, above my coffee pot and hung them on the mirror of our bathroom. I lived for Christ, and I chose to love Christ first in all that I did. But, I never preached at my husband. If a scripture passage offended him or made him uncomfortable, I would take it down. I never made him feel less of a man for not being a Christian. Don’t make your husband feel less of a person or a man because he chooses not to believe.
Peter says that it is through our conduct that our husbands can be won to Christ. So make your conduct as the Lord God would have it be. Conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of God. If you say you are a Christian, be a Christian, in all that you do. Do not be one way at church and another way at home, your husband will see that and see a hypocrite before he sees Jesus. He is looking for ways to prove to you that Jesus is not God. Don’t give him the opportunity. This does not mean that you are not going to sin; this does not mean that you are not going to mess up. It means that when you do sin, you have a God who forgives.
Living before your husband as a Christian also means that you are going to have to forgive and forget. To be the light that he needs to see also means that he needs to see forgiveness. Take ownership of your mistakes and ask for his forgiveness. When he hurts you or says something to cause you pain, forgive him, and show him your forgiveness. My children used to tell me they were sorry all the time. I got so tired of hearing “I’m sorry” that I told them I did not want to hear it anymore. What I wanted to see was a change of heart, a change in the way they behaved. Our husbands need to see the same. They don’t need our sorry’s they need to see the difference that Jesus has made in our lives and how they too can have that same change.
I once heard a pastor speak about our walks before the unbelievers of the world. He said that our walks are to be like an ice cream cone, a double scooped, double dipped, chocolate gooey goodness just waiting to be tasted. You know the ice cream cone I am talking about. The one that you see someone else carrying around on a hot summer day, and all you can think is that you have to have one for yourself. Our walks should be so appealing, that our husbands want a taste too. We want our husbands to look at our lives in Christ and respond with, “I want what you have.”
Live as the light of Jesus Christ before your husband. Paul tells us in Philippians 1:27a to “let your conduct be worthy of the gospel of Christ…” Let your words be followed by your actions, let your actions be followed by your faith, and let him see Jesus in the midst of your daily life. It is not through our words that our husbands will be won to Christ, it is how we live before them that will make the difference. “Therefore, be imitators of God as dear children” (Ephesians 5:1) and let God do the rest.
Pray the Lord God would show you how to walk as light before you husband. Seek out what it means to be the light that Paul refers to in 2 Corinthians, then pray and ask the Lord to transform your preaching from words into actions, and your actions into godly conduct.
May all the glory and honor and praise be to Jesus Christ, forever and ever. Amen
"Winning Him Without A Word; Learning to live and love and unbelieving husband." On sale now at Amazon.com. (Available in Paperback and Kindle editions)