Win Them Without Words so You Can Win Them With the Word
“…so that even if some do not obey the word, they may be won without a word by the conduct of their wives” (1 Peter 3:1 ESV).
Win? Win to what? Win to their own personal faith in Christ. Win them to the gospel. Peter is explaining a spiritual and psychological principle. Our walk speaks louder than our talk. Peter is certainly not saying that talk is unnecessary. The gospel is good news and must be shared verbally and explained. He is not promoting a speechless gospel. Rather, the human mind is very keen on perceiving hypocrisy. When someone talks the talk but doesn’t walk the walk, it calls into question all the talk. The vocal Christian at work who cheats his time or pilfers office supplies, his walk undermines his talk. At the same time, when someone walks their talk, it empowers their talk and makes people go hmmm….
Family is the ultimate up close and personal observation of talk and walk. No one knows us like our family. It’s very hard to fake it. Peter urges us to see our life with our family as a powerful missional opportunity for the people we love the most. Note the two categories of life-walk he highlights: “when they see your respectful and pure conduct.”
Respectful Conduct Attitude
Pure Conduct Actions
If you want to win your family members to Christ, the daily attitude you display will either enhance the gospel you profess or detract from it. Peter isn’t urging fake it to make it here.
We don’t put on false airs of spirituality. Rather, we live authentically in a way the unbeliever cannot do. Which attitudes unveil the gospel? The counterintuitive ones for humans. Servant-heartedness. Helpfulness. Care and concern for other’s needs. What does that all sound like? Normal agape Christian love! Thankfully, these are qualities that a genuine Christian is growing in naturally as the Spirit of God creates Christlikeness. That’s attitude.
The other is conduct. This is the moral trajectory of our lives. Never perfect but there should be a substantial difference in the moral life of a Christian and the other unbelievers in the family. This could and should be quite unnerving for them. They knew you in your party days but now…what’s gotten into you? Humble obedience to just the Ten Commandments should do the trick. Just those 10 will sufficiently say, Something is different in John’s life. Hmmm…. Christian conduct will definitely cause your unsaved family go, hmmm….
You may be listening today and your family is totally Christian. You might be thinking, I’m so glad my husband is already a Christian so I’m free to treat him badly. And you would be wrong. Peter isn’t urging an extraordinary Christianity here, he is encouraging a normal Christianity, flawed and imperfect, lived out by the gospelized family member.
If your family members are already Christians, ask yourself, if they weren’t a Christian, am I the kind of Christian husband/wife/sibling/child that would cause them to consider becoming a Christian? This is a call no matter what your status and we should all strive to live in our families in such a way that our walk and talk shouts the gospel.
If my spouse weren’t a Christian, would my life make him or her desire to be one?
If my brother or sister weren’t a Christian, would my life make them want to be one?
A reminder, the gospel isn’t good people living perfect lives. 1 Peter doesn’t say anything about being a perfect wife. In fact, it is in the moments of imperfection, disappointment, and disillusionment that Christianity shines the best because these highlight Christian love, covenant faithfulness, and forgiving grace. Conflict. Illness. Trials. Hurts. These are the moments when God’s gospel shines the brightest. Gospelize them and make the most of them.
A few weeks ago, a woman in our church shared with me her story. She wrote me an email, “My marriage had not been good for 29 years, but the last 3 years I gospelized my wifery…. It brought my husband to the Lord. He died 13 years ago. But I know that I’ll see him again.”
I wrote her back and asked her a follow-up question: If you could go back, what would you do different in the earlier years? I definitely would have prayed more. I would have been a more loving wife also. By loving, I mean kinder and gentler, more attune to his needs, and not so stubborn on my part. I think that the longer I was a Christian reading my Bible, the reality that he might spend eternity in hell was what made me get on my knees more. God changed me and I firmly believe that change in me is what brought my husband to the Lord. God is so good. He answered those many years of prayers.
That’s what winning unsaved family without words looks like. If you are reading this and your spouse is a Christian and you are not, you should know the deepest desire of your spouse is that you would trust in Christ as your Savior. It’s what he or she thinks about when they make a wish and blow out the birthday cake candles. It’s what they pray for when their head hits the pillow. It’s what they are quietly praying for right now. Have they been perfect or even close? No. But the gospel isn’t that God saves perfect people, it’s that God will save any sinner who repents of their sin and puts their personal trust in hope for salvation from God’s judgment in Jesus’ death for their sins.
Might the life of your Christian family member bring you even today to a point where you would trust in Jesus as your Savior today? Right now? There’s a family member whose heart is hoping you will. They love you and they want to spend eternity with you.
Scripture quotations are taken from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Permanent Text Edition® (2016). Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.
© 2021 by Steve DeWitt. You are permitted and encouraged to reproduce and distribute this material in any format provided that: (1) you credit the author, (2) any modifications are clearly marked, (3) you do not charge a fee beyond the cost of reproduction, (4) you include Bethel’s website address (www.bethelweb.org) on the copied resource.
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