Whose adorning let it not be of the that outward adorning of plaiting the hair, and of wearing of gold, or of putting on of apparel; But let [our beauty] be the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price.
In 1 Peter 3:1-5, Peter first tries to wean us women off of our obsession with our appearance (the outside); then he tries to convince us to love beautifying ourselves with something better–the hidden woman of our hearts (the inside).
Other passages also refer to the inner person with these phrases:
- “new man”–Ephesians 4:24
- “the inward man”–2 Corinthians 4:16 and Romans 7:22
- “thy heart…out of it are the issues of life”–Proverbs 4:23
The thing that separates Christians from unbelievers is their hearts. You could be dressing wonderfully on the outside but still be naked on the inside. Why does Peter use that word “hidden”? Because God’s work of grace in the heart is not seen at first. God first pulls a person to come to belief in Himself and then changes his desires. This desire-change, or new heart, is seen in many graces, or the “fruits of the Spirit.” But one grace that Peter is emphasizing here that all of us need to “doll up” with is a meek and quiet spirit, which is precious to God.
Psalm 55:21 shows that meekness is not just a “put on,” an outward show:
The words of his mouth were smoother than butter, but war was in his heart: his words were softer than oil, yet were they drawn swords.
Ever known anyone like that who could slippery Southern sweet-talk to your face, but knife you with gossip when they thought your back was turned?
The power of man’s laws can constrain a person to do right, but the power of God’s grace can “create in me a clean heart.” If the tree is good, if its roots are good, then its fruits will be good. If I am easily angered (my fruit), I am not beautiful in my heart (my root), in the hidden inward part that no one but God can see.
Do I care to look beautiful for God? Meekness is “of great price” to him–it’s rare, invaluable, precious, expensive–beautiful. If God puts value on something, then we know that it is truly important. This phrase “of great price” is the same Greek word in 1 Timothy 2:9 (a passage also directed toward women and their clothing): “costly.” Perhaps in the days of the Bible, expensive jewelry and clothing would be imported from far away by ship–taking months. They were rare, hard to obtain.
So it is with a meek and quiet spirit–it’s unusual! And it was bought with such a great price–the blood of the incomparably meek Jesus.
Therefore we need to value a meek and quiet spirit. We must strive with all of our efforts after it, because it is valuable and respectable; so that whether we live or die, we will be found beautiful in our Lord’s eyes.
It can be learned! If it’s important to God, we can know that He would also show us the way to get it. Even though meekness is not valued in society, often being seen as weakness; yet we can rejoice, knowing that God is happy with our spirit. In the end, nothing will matter more than God’s approval, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”
This is my attempt to rephrase Matthew Henry’s book The Quest for Meekness and Quietness of Spirit.