What one person sees as beautiful another does not. The saying is that ‘beauty is in the eye of the beholder’. Peter uses the phrase, “imperishable beauty” in 1 Peter 3, but what beauty is imperishable, that cannot be destroyed? Beautiful flowers fade away, but Peter is not writing of flowers. He is writing of the influence wives can have on their husbands and others; there is beauty, as God sees beauty, in a holy character.
Peter tells them, “Do not let your adorning be external – the braiding of hair, the wearing of gold, or the putting on of clothing, but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious” (verses 3,4). This is not what the world counts as “very precious” but God does! Surely the same spirit is expected of the unmarried and widowed.
It is a beauty which cannot perish! May we all develop and portray real beauty in the sight of God. Husbands must see their role clearly, noting Peter’s counsel, “live with your wives in an understanding way, showing honour to the woman as the weaker vessel, since they are heirs with you of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered” (verse 7). Think about this from God’s perspective – how many prayers are hindered?
Women are usually physically weaker than men but there are many occasions when they are stronger in other ways. Consider how strong the mother of Jesus became, a strength developed from her deep awareness of God’s words as evident when she magnified the Lord (Luke 1:46-55)
Peter ends his Epistle with some further challenging points for believers. “Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him because he cares for you” (5:6,7). Even so, let us care for each other, and let us admire the “imperishable beauty” we see the sisters have developed, all learning “to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace” (4:10).