1 Peter – Chapter Three VI

by Ed Urzi

“Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes. Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight” (1 Peter 3:3-4 NIV).

This passage offers an opportunity to discuss a Biblical approach that can benefit anyone who seeks to cultivate a God-honoring worldview. While the Greco-Roman culture that prompted these instructions has long since faded into history, these verses present us with underlying principles that are relevant to any era.

We can begin with the acknowledgment that certain Biblical standards are immutable, or unchanging.  However, the manner in which we observe those standards may vary from age to age or culture to culture. This simple principle is one that can help us interpret and apply God’s Word in a changing culture.

The following observations on this topic are worthy of our attention…

“…there is a difference between command and culture. The commands of Scripture are absolute—culture is relative. For example, few believe that Jesus’ command to His disciples not to have an extra pair of sandals with them while on an evangelistic tour applies today. And most Christians do not literally ‘Greet all the brethren with a holy kiss’ anymore (1 Thes. 5:26). Nor do they believe that ‘lifting up holy hands in prayer’ is essential to public prayer (1 Tim. 2:8).

There is a principle behind all these commands that is absolute, but the practice is not. What Christians must do is absolute, but how they do it is culturally relative. For example, Christians must greet one another (the what), but how they greet each other will be relative to their respective cultures. In some cultures, as in the NT, it will be with a kiss, in others with a hug, and in still others with a handshake.” (1)

With this in mind, we can draw several practical applications from this passage…

  • We should seek to dress in a manner that reflects well upon our relationship with God.
  • We should avoid dressing in a way that seeks to occupy  the attention of others. Instead, our need for approval, acceptance, and attention should find its fulfillment in Christ.
  • If God should bestow us with financial or material prosperity, we must be discerning and refrain from showing off such things in our appearance.

So this passage reminds us that a Godly attitude should govern our appearance. This principle is just as valid today as it was for those who lived in the Biblical era.

(1) Geisler, N. L., & Howe, T. A. (1992). When critics ask : a popular handbook on Bible difficulties (pp. 459–460). Wheaton, Ill.: Victor Books.