New Year Spiritual Goal

Hello. My spiritual goal for this next year is 1 Peter 3:4 “…but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious.” How does one who is unashamed in their faith and an extrovert develop a gentle and quiet spirit? Thank you.

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What a great question @g2G! I am sure others will have much to contribute. I have just a few thoughts that might be helpful.

I imagine we can think of a “gentle and quiet spirit” as a fruit. In the pursuit of fruit, the most important thing are seeds, not the fruit itself, necessarily. The fruit is important only in that “they carry the seed of the fruit in themselves.” But, the seeds are internal. This is where I believe the victory is won.

I wouldn’t focus on forcing yourself, externally, to try to affect those attributes you believe go along with a quiet and gentle spirit. I would focus on developing those attributes in your spirit and see what fruit comes of it!

Having rest and peace in your salvation in Christ and confidence in his love for you will be the seed where your spirit will be at rest and at peace. Having a revelation and ever-present awareness of God’s gracefulness and gentleness with you will yield the same gentleness and graciousness in ourselves.

This doesn’t mean that we have to no longer be loud and boisterous, which may be how God designed us. Our quiet and gentle spirit can still come through. There are some who use the noise to hide their tormented spirit. If yours is at rest, this will be evident to others regardless of your personality.

I hope this is helpful! I would love to hear your thoughts as well!

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Hi Ginger @g2G! I appreciate what @Joshua_Hansen has shared here about these qualities as fruits, not as attributes we have to press ourselves into. That is important to keep in sight! I’ve done some thinking on this question before myself, as I have a real passion to be pleasing to God and love this image of my inner formation being precious to him. My instinct for exploring scripture is always the wider context of the passage, so I read around these verses, setting them in the discourse. I’ll share how I understand it, and what I think that means for your question, Ginger.

What struck me (delightfully, I admit) is that this is not singling out women for an ideal of to soft-spoken and demure conduct. Rather, it is a much broader exhortation to the whole people of God, brought down into contextual applications for the different life contexts of the people sitting in the room. The book seems to be written to a group of believers facing various levels of suffering for their witness and identification with Christ. The example of Jesus’s own submissiveness and gentleness—rejected and mistreated by the world but precious to (and rewarded by) God— is thus a key premise reiterated throughout. The people of God are being exhorted to living with gentleness and with respect (and good lives) within their (often hostile) context. The particular addresses to slaves, wives, husbands—different stations within society and household—thus appear in the discourse as tailored iterations of the same theme which is preached in ch. 2.

We can see throughout the book that this exhortation is grounded in the gentle and quiet spirit of Jesus; this is laid out in the iteration of this word to slaves in 2:20-23. Then we notice that the following word to wives and husbands each begin with “In the same way…” indicating that what follows is a particularized iteration of the previous message.

So what does all this consideration of the discourse yield, this consideration of how the whole exhortation of the book fits together? I think it sheds light on your question about how these attributes interplay with personality. These seem less like personality traits and more like fixed postures of heart toward to the Lord (and yes, also bearing fruit in our social relationships). It is a gentleness that does not seek to dominate but to serve—just like Jesus. It is the quietness that needs not assert or grasp for its own interests but entrusts oneself to God—just like Jesus. I am thinking here too of Psalm 131, where the psalmist acknowledges dependence, and entrusts themself to God, hoping in him (and not their own power); this is Jesus-like quietness and trust, submitted and at rest in the bosom of the Father. [To see how these themes fit together, I highly recommend copy/pasting and printing out 1 Peter and underlining repeated words. It really transformed the way I read it.]

So with your question of how to develop this, it seems to me that it is though following Jesus in committed and consistent surrender to God, enacting a Spirit empowered trust in him in all circumstances, but particularly when we experience challenges, opposition, and suffering. This is precious to God, as Christ’s submitted spirit is—as is explicit in ch. 2:4:6.

Does this add anything to how you read the passage and think about what it can mean for developing a “gentle and quiet spirit”? I think this helps me understand how it can be the spiritual underpinning to a whole array of personality expressions—do you agree, or does it still hold a tension for you? Why or why not?

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