In the 32nd chapter of Exodus we read what happened when Moses spent 40 days and nights on Mount Sinai, receiving the law from God, while the people of Israel stayed at the foot of the mountain waiting. The people grew impatient and concluded that Moses had died.
They came to Aaron, Moses’ brother, and said, “We think Moses is dead along with the God he taught us to follow. Make us a new god to worship.” So Aaron asked for their gold jewelry which he made into a golden calf for the people to worship.
Things did not go well. Before long the people were going wild worshiping the golden calf and engaging in all kinds of evil. Moses, however, was not dead and he came down from the mountain with the Ten Commandments and got rid of the golden calf.
People are eager to have a god. In this story they were willing to give up their gold jewelry to have a god to follow and worship.
Peter talks about gold jewelry in the textual basis for the third part of the series, “More Precious Than Gold”:
Do not let your adorning be external—the braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewelry, or the clothing you wear— 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. (1 Peter 3:3-4 ESV)
When people are considering the purchase of gold jewelry they try it on to see if it fits, to see if it pleases them. If they like it and they can afford it, they proceed with the purchase.
We don’t have to wonder if the adornment that Peter mentions in this passage is pleasing to God. The imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, “in God’s sight is very precious.”
In the previous chapter of this epistle, Peter writes about Jesus’ gentle and quiet spirit:
He committed no sin, neither was deceit found in his mouth.  When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly. (1 Peter 2:22-23 ESV)
One of the most beloved images of our Lord Jesus is as a gentle Shepherd:
He will tend his flock like a shepherd;
He will gather the lambs in his arms;
He will carry them in his bosom,
And gently lead those that are with young. (Isaiah 40:11 ESV)
When someone goes to the time and expense of buying gold jewelry for someone else it is important for the recipient of the gift to wear it. That is the case with us. The gentleness and quietness that God wants us to wear came at a great cost and he wants us to wear it regularly.
This is how Peter describes the cost of our gold jewelry:
He himself [Jesus] bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed. (I Peter 2: 24 ESV)
Being gentle and quiet is not something that comes to us naturally. By nature we are more inclined to be harsh and unkind. But knowing that Jesus paid for all our sins and healed all our wounds makes us willing to wear whatever he wants us to wear.
And gentleness and quietness are not something we put on and take off like jewelry. They are permanent parts of the new life we have in Christ.
Is Peter saying we should get rid of all our gold jewelry? No. He is saying that gold should not be our only source of beauty. What good is a whole coordinated outfit of clothing and jewelry if our spirit is not gentle and quiet? What good is man’s approval of the way we look when God does not approve of the way we are acting?
Gentleness and quietness are also things that Peter says can be used to win people for Christ: “Always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect,” (I Peter 3:15 ESV)
By nature we tend to be harsh and unkind. Knowing that Jesus paid for all our sins and healed all our wounds by dying for us on the cross, makes us willing to adorn our lives with those things that are most pleasing to our heavenly Father, gentleness and respect toward others.