In 1 Peter 3:7, when Peter is exhorting husbands to honor their wives, he says that the husband and wife are “heirs together in the grace of life”. This is a beautiful image that should encourage us and direct us in our marriages. The way that Peter describes marriage gives us a wonderful perspective that should influence all our actions and decisions in marriage. So, what exactly is Peter saying when he refers to spouses being heirs together in the grace of life?
A Gracious Gift
The first thing worth noting is that life is a gracious gift. If we think about our lives this way, it changes how we act in marriage. We did nothing to give ourselves life. God gave us it to us freely, and not only breath, but a life full of His kindness. Peter says we are inheriting this life, this gift, with our spouses.
Imagine that you give your children a gift that is for them to share. How would you want them to share it? Would you hope that they were constantly fighting and being selfish about it and keeping records of all the times they had to share it? Of course not! You would hope that they would be generous with it, that they would enjoy it but also enjoy sharing it. You would hope that it would bring them closer together in love, not create a source of conflict.
Isn’t this what God wants for our marriages? He has given us this great gift of life and then asked us to share it. But often, instead of being generous, we fall into the temptation to focus on everything being fair and equal. Instead of freely giving all our time and energy and life to our marriage, we often count the cost of all the sacrifice and look for a return on our investment. This isn’t what God has called us to in marriage. He wants us to see our life as a gift that we give joyfully to our husbands.
Marriage is building life together and bringing new lives into the world. Marriage is the receiver and giver of life. When we get married, God is asking us to receive the gift of life together, to share it. And as we have children, we are creating more life. The whole purpose of marriage is life.
What does this mean as we live in marriages with each other? We should ask ourselves if our actions are giving life or taking life. Am I speaking to my husband in a life-giving tone? Am I making decisions about my time to give life? Am I destroying life by comparing him to others? Are my needs draining his life and his energy because I am failing to cast my burdens on Christ?
Women can bring death to their marriages in so many ways:
- taking control of every situation
- treating husbands like a child
- choosing not to trust husbands
- comparing their husbands to others
- allowing emotions to be in control
- bringing up past offenses
- being lazy, failing to serve
- expecting to be served
- being undisciplined with time and money
- sharing their husbands’ faults with others,
- not respecting their husbands’ preferences in how home should function.
Women can bring life to their marriages with these actions:
- being thankful to God for husbands
- expressing gratitude to husbands
- being patient
- being content
- seeking strength from God for emotional stability
- believing their husbands have the best intentions
- respecting their husbands’ preferences in how money and time should be spent
- working hard to care for their homes and children
- being joyful in the work God has put in front of them
- looking for ways to give comfort and joy to their husbands
- praying for their husbands
- when their husbands are in sin, confronting them and seeking help for them as any good friend would
Walk in Wisdom
In Proverbs, wisdom is personified as a woman. We are also told that it was with wisdom God created the world (Proverbs 3:19). God created the world with His words. As women, we are like the words of God with the power to create or destroy.
We have the power to bring death to our marriages, and we have the power to breathe life into a suffocating marriage. We can only do this through the power of Christ. We can only give life and share life if we are receiving life from Him. If we are eating the Eucharist (communion), feeding on His word, and ingesting the only food that will really sustain us, we can find the strength to be life-giving in our marriages.