Vol.XIX No.XI Pg.3
January 1983

Behavior That Gains

Dan S. Shipley

What Peter says about wives gaining unbelieving husbands through exemplary behavior teaches a powerful lesson about influence that all need to learn (1 Pet. 3:1-4). Many Christians, wives and otherwise, are sharing homes, with those who "obey not the word." Their spiritual needs are no less than those of any other unsaved sinner in the world. Yet, amazingly enough, the home is often a neglected "missionary" field. Not, of course, that Christians living there are unconcerned — and, not that they haven't tried. But, after awhile, the arrangement is apt to be taken for granted. No matter how disappointing and frustrating earlier experiences may have been, we have a remarkable ability to adjust and "get used to" the worst of situations. And that is precisely why Peter's admonition needs remembering and applying first at home.

To be sure, we know about letting our lights shine before men and allowing them to see our good works (Matt. 5:16), but what men? Isn't it true that we usually think of those with whom we work and our neighbors? But nowhere is the light of faithful and godly living more needed than in the presence of our own loved ones. The influence of gospel-formed character is most needed where association is most frequent and relationships are closest — and, that's where we live. Of course, it is not the behavior and the good example that saves, but it is the strongest kind of recommendation for that which has produced it. Therefore, when Christ and His gospel are reproduced in the conduct and character of His people in their day to-day activities and associations, it will be the proclamation of a powerfully impressive sermon that will be hard to ignore.

For this reason, we must not allow our- selves to become complacent or indifferent regarding our behavior in the home — the very place where many tend to be careless about it. It is not enough that our faith has brought us to the baptistry, to Bible classes, and worship if it has not brought a decided change in our deportment. And, who will notice this more than our own family? Faith is not so much tested in "Sunday - go - to - meetin'" clothes as in house-shoes and curlers. The wife, for instance, who is careful about her conduct in public but is quarrel- some at home, demonstrates a kind of hypocrisy and disposition that hurts the cause of Christ — and the chances of converting her husband to it. It is bad enough that some unbeliever would be exposed to temper tantrums, angry retorts, and abusive language of any Christian, let alone have to live with such in his own home. The Christian whose demeanor demonstrates an unwillingness to live by gospel truth will be hard put to recommend it to others.

On the other hand, behavior that reflects the influence of the gospel and gains men for Christ begins from within, "in the hidden man of the heart" (v.4). When Christ rules the heart He rules the conduct. It's all a matter of faith. What Christ is to a man determines what that man will be for Christ — and what he will be to others, in the home and elsewhere.