The Fruit of Her Hands Book Study – Chapter Three (Part 2/2)

We’re still making our way through this chapter, but I’ll wrap it up today.  So hang in there. We will beat this to death, but I pray this will not only help you personally, but help you discern when discipling other women.

Sarah’s Daughters

“For this is how the holy women who hoped in God used to adorn themselves, by submitting to their own husbands, as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord. And you are her children, if you do good and do not fear anything that is frightening.” (1 Peter 3:5-6)

Nancy taps into 1 Peter 3:3-6 to make her point that submission is another form of respect.  I would say that submission is a byproduct of respect.  We are more inclined to submit to those we respect.  However, submission doesn’t equal respect either.  One can yield to the decisions of those in authority over us, and yet not respect those decisions.  As a wife I’ve done this all too many times.  I have submitted to Jon, but in my heart I have harbored bitterness and self-righteous thoughts against him for “making me” do something. After much thought on this subject and Nancy’s exhortation, I can safely conclude in my mind that while submission does not equal respect, they must go together, if we want our actions and heart to honor the Lord.

Nancy draws the imperatives (commands) from this verse for us, to make her point that even if we cannot trust our husbands, we must trust God.  Our gentle and quiet spirits, she points out, are to be reflected by obeying these commands: 1) Trusting God, 2) be submissive to our own husbands, 3) do good, and 4) be unafraid.  Literally. And in that order.  I personally love this verse.  If you work it backwards, you get to the root of the matter.  Here’s what I mean…One cannot stop being afraid (like thinking that our husbands will take advantage of their authority…or do something unwise, etc.), or do good deeds (like showing hospitality), or submit to our husbands (especially in what we might perceive as unreasonable), until we trust God.  “The holy women who hoped in God” did this.  Who were these women? At the top of the list was Sarah as, she “obeyed Abraham, calling him Lord.” So if you want to be a holy woman, a woman of gentle and quiet spirit, then you must trust God first. Nothing will happen until you do.

Nancy doesn’t touch on why Sarah’s name is mentioned here, as the example of such trust in God and submission.  Do you ever wonder why Sarah and not Mary, Jesus’ mother, or Hannah, Elizabeth, etc. were mentioned? I have, many times. Seriously, Sarah?!  I mean she manipulated her husband to sleep with their servant so that he could have a son.  Boy, the ramifications of such act thousands of years later still has its sting! Anyhow, the best I, in my small little mind, can conclude is that she is an example of an imperfect godly woman striving to trust God.  God in his infinite wisdom is telling us, “be like her”, trust in Me, and submit to your husband.  That brings me a great deal of comfort.  It is like the Lord acknowledging that he is asking us to submit/respect to an imperfect person, but the basis of such respect/submission is not them — but Him!!

The more we study the word and know God’s attributes and character, the easier it will be for us to trust Him.

Respect When It’s Hard

Let’s face it, some of you are married to the guy who doesn’t take the family to church, is not interested in you, or the family, he can hardly keep a job, he waists the grocery money on his hobbies, and he’s inconsiderate of you and the kids.  What then? Nancy, and her husband, Douglas, refer to this type of respect as, “saluting the uniform.”  You are commanded to respect, so you need to respect his God-given position.  Again, we cannot wait until he produces some respectability.

So what does that look like? Nancy spells it out for us:

  • Respect is a demeanor…the husband is treated with courtesy and honor.
  • In communication…includes how wives talk to their husbands and how they talk about them.
  • When she’s speaking to him, she should not speak to him as though she were talking to one of the kids.
  • His heart is safe with her.  She does him good. She is trustworthy. (Proverbs 31:11-12)

View and call this folly as scriptures call is – as a stench.Now what about the man whose folly has traveled far and wide, and it is extremely hard for that wife to show him respect.  Nancy reminds us that Scriptures doesn’t excuse the stupid behavior of some men (Ecclesiastes 10:1).  She gives some examples of such folly: Financial irresponsibility, laziness, unwise comments, irrational behavior, poor decisions, or faithlessness in many areas.  What is a wife to do in these circumstances? Unashamedly, she calls these women to:

  • The wife needs to speak to her husband about his sinful behavior and seek proper restoration.
  • If his folly persists, you need to take it to the pastor/elders of the church.  Often women tell their friend, before they tell their pastor/elders.  This is backwards.  In fact, it is more respectful to tell the pastor than a friend.
  • Do not bear his responsibilities.  When the collection agent calls, hand over the phone to your husband.
  • Do not call your parents for help, have him call them.
  • Step aside and let him fulfill his responsibilities.

In these trying situations don’t let what your husband isn’t doing rob you of your joy.  Trust in God that he will safely walk you through it.

Without a Word

In this last section of this chapter. Nancy speaks to the women who are married to the non-believer.  What are they to do; they cannot rely on their husbands for spiritual guidance? How can they respect them?

First, she addresses a couple of these women’s hindrances.  One of them being that they are tempted to submit to someone else’s husband, because these other men are more spiritual than their husbands.  These women need to constantly remember that they, like the rest of us, need to be submissive to their own husband (1 Peter 3:1-3).  They need to be careful and not appear as though they are more submissive/respectful of their girlfriend’s husband, counselor, or pastor.  Another hindrance these women face is that of self-pity.  The tendency to compare their husbands with other men is always there.  The remedy?  They need to stop inwardly complaining and whining so that they can grow in contentment for what they do have.

God never commands a woman to respect or submit to sin, so these women need to be students of the Word so that they can discern when they need stop following their husbands and obey God first.

In 1 Peter 3:1-2, it specifies exactly how these women ought to win or be a testimony to their husbands: “Wives, in the same way submit yourselves to your own husbands so that, if any of them do not believe the word, they may be won over without words by the behavior of their wives, when they see the purity and reverence of your lives.”  Again, what should  this behavior look like?

  • They submit to their own husbands
  • They may win them without a word. If you boast to him of how spiritual you are and he isn’t, that is not “without a word”
  • Do not nag
  • Be courteous
  • Show him preference
  • Concentrate on your own behavior (i.e., by showing him respect)

Now, that doesn’t mean these women are responsible for their husband’s salvation, but it does mean this is how they are to honor God in their marriages.

These women need to take courage and don’t underestimate how their respectful behavior can have an impact on their husbands.

Whew!! This was a very long chapter, but this is it!

So let me ask you this in closing:
Have you discovered what a valuable tool respect is for your marriage?


  1. This chapter so reinforces the wisdom in following God’s comands. I stopped naging about my husband long ago to other women and speaking positivily about him to others. Not to follow God’s commands (I didn’t know them) but more of a worldly think good thoughts, put good vibes out there kind of a way. The FEAR of trusting my husband (which ultimitally is not trusting God) kept me from respecting him. I think we have such a distortion of what respect looks like and really it is the most wonderful thing. It is getting out of your heart the bitterness toward your husband by trusting God and leaning on Him for understanding and direction. I can’t wait to read this chapter again and continue to grow in respect toward my honey.

    • esmerandle says:

      Couldn’t agree w/you more, Mandi. It is so encouraging to hear how God’s grace is growing you and blessing your marriage. Thank you so much for sharing!

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