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1Peter  ◦   Chapter 3

1In the same way, wives, by your conduct, actively seek to reveal God's true character to your husbands, so that even if they don't believe the Scriptures, they may be won over by your humble, loving service2when they see genuine, selfless love in action.3The beauty that emanates from God cannot be revealed in outward trappings such as hairstyle, jewelry or designer clothes, so don't get tricked into making your external appearance your main concern.4Instead, real, godly beauty is found in a heart, mind and character that has been healed to be like Christ’s–gentle and loving — and is of the highest worth in God’s sight.5This is how the holy women of the past, who trusted God, made themselves beautiful: they lovingly sought the godly best for their husbands,6like Sarah, who graciously supported Abraham and called him "my hero and leader." You are truly heirs of Sarah if you give of yourself in love to build up your husband, and not give into fear and selfishness.

7If you are a husband, then be sure to always consider the needs of your wife and treat her with love, sacrificing yourselves for her good. Respect her as the weaker partner, but remember her equality to you as an heir of God’s gracious gift of life. Do this so that you may experience the unity of love, and nothing will then interfere with your conversations with God.

8Finally, all of you are to be united in love, motive and principle, sharing a common vision and purpose, and harmoniously working together for the restoration of God’s character in mankind.9Do not practice the principles of the world–repaying evil with evil or insult with insult–but seek to bless, uplift and heal everyone, even your enemies. It is for this purpose–to be co-workers with God in healing humanity–that you were called, and that you may be healed in the process.10For the Scriptures say, "those who obtain eternal life and happiness choose to love others and refuse to gossip, speak evil, or tell any lie or falsehood.11They willfully reject evil and selfishness and instead choose to do good, sacrificing themselves for others; they always seek to heal and bring peace.12For God watches over those who live rightly–in accordance with his character of love–and he hears all they have to say; and the Lord works to eradicate evil and selfishness, and to heal all infected by it."

13Don't you see that if you are genuinely committed to God and eagerly practice his methods of love, you cannot be stopped?14Even if you are attacked or persecuted for doing what is right, by forgiving and loving others you reveal God's true character and simultaneously are advancing to be more like him. So "do not fear for this mortal life as the world fears; and don't be frightened for a minute,"15but make Christ the center of your heart, mind and character. Always be prepared to talk about God's character of love, as revealed in Jesus, to anyone who asks why you are hopeful in the face of persecution, trial, and difficulty. But be sure to do it with gentleness, kindness and respect,16with a pure heart and clear conscience, so that those who lie, gossip, and spread rumors about your ministry for Christ may be ashamed of their malicious ways.

17It is better, if God permits, to be persecuted for doing good than to suffer the results of doing evil,18for that is exactly what Christ did. He suffered terribly and died once in order to cure sinfulness–to provide a Remedy for all humanity and restore us to unity with God. In Christ, love vanquished selfishness, and righteousness overcame unrighteousness. He allowed the sin-sick to kill him, and in giving himself freely, he triumphed over the infection of selfishness and fear, and was renewed to life by the Spirit of love and truth.19It was through this same Spirit of love and truth that he preached to all humans, who were held in the bondage of sin.20Yes, it was Christ, working through the Spirit, who preached to those bound by sin in Noah’s day. He was so patient with them, working constantly to reach them as Noah built the ark, yet only eight people responded and had a new life on the other side of that great flood.21The flood is symbolic of baptism: Just as those who responded to the Spirit in Noah’s day and went through the water–safely in the ark–to a new life, those who follow the Spirit go through baptism to a new life in Christ today. This doesn’t wash away dirt from the body, but it symbolizes the Spirit’s cleansing of the conscience from fear and selfishness. You are healed by the life of Jesus Christ who rose from the dead22and is in heaven at God's right hand, directing the Spirit to take his perfect character and reproduce it in you. All heavenly intelligences recognize him as worthy and sovereign, and he is directing all the agencies of heaven for your healing.