1 Peter 3:8-9 ESV
Finally, all of you, have unity of mind, sympathy, brotherly love, a tender heart, and a humble mind. Do not repay evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary, bless, for to this you were called, that you may obtain a blessing.
As followers of Jesus Christ, we are first and foremost to be united with Him in mind, and then we can have unity of mind with our brothers and sisters in Christ who are also united in mind with Him. Thus, we must be listening to Jesus and to his Spirit living within us, if indeed he is living within us. And, we must be doing what the Lord says. And, it is of necessity, too, that we are following him in his ways and in his truth (See: John 10:27-30).
The reason there is so much infighting among brothers and sisters in Christ within the church is that so many of them are thinking more like the world, and they are following the flesh, and so their minds are worldly and fleshly and not of the Spirit. Thus, they can’t possibly be united in mind with other believers, unless those other believers are also filling up their minds and their hearts with what is of the world and what is of our sinful flesh.
Thus, because so many Christians are following the ways of the world and are feeding their minds with what is of this sinful world, many of them have adopted the values, principles, traditions, thinking, attitudes and behaviors of the world. And, the world definitely is teaching that we are to get even with those who hurt us, and that we are even to rejoice over their misery, and that we are to even throw a party on their grave, and this is just wrong!
No matter what others do to us, we must not get even with them. We must love them, in return. We must grieve over their captivity to sin, and we must pour out our hearts in prayer for them and for their salvation. And, we must do good to them and say to them what will benefit them, i.e. what is for their good and for their salvation from sin, and for their walks of faith.
1 Peter 3:10-12 ESV
“Whoever desires to love life
and see good days,
let him keep his tongue from evil
and his lips from speaking deceit;
let him turn away from evil and do good;
let him seek peace and pursue it.
For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous,
and his ears are open to their prayer.
But the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.”
So many people have this idea that faith in Jesus Christ is more like a get-out-of-jail-free card to escape hell, and that it is the promise of heaven when they die, but that it does not have to greatly impact their lifestyles at all. But, they are missing the whole purpose of God’s grace to us in sending his Son Jesus Christ to die on a cross for our sins.
They don’t realize that the “free gift” is not freedom to continue in sinful addictions, but that it is freedom FROM our sinful addictions and lifestyles, and it is freedom to walk with Jesus in his righteousness and holiness.
We are not supposed to be like the world. We are supposed to come out from the world and be separate. We are not supposed to fit in so we will be accepted and liked. We are to be unlike the world, and we should stand out as different, and that is a good thing, not a bad thing, if we are living for Jesus. And, it is perfectly ok if people think we are weird. They thought Jesus was weird, too. And, we are supposed to be like him.
So, don’t be like the world. Be like Jesus. Then, you will have the love and the life of Christ within you and you will be blessed. And, the Lord’s ears will be attentive to your prayers. But, if we (practice) evil, his face is against us. So, don’t be fooled. For we will reap what we sow (Gal. 6:7-8).
1 Peter 3:13-16 ESV
Now who is there to harm you if you are zealous for what is good? But even if you should suffer for righteousness’ sake, you will be blessed. Have no fear of them, nor be troubled, but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, 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, having a good conscience, so that, when you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame.
When we truly follow Jesus Christ with our lives, in surrender to his will and to his ways, and we do what he says to do, and we refrain from doing what he says not to do, we won’t win popularity contests, even within the church. In fact, we should expect that we will be disliked and rejected and excluded and mocked and ignored and fought against, and the like.
But, just because, by God’s grace, and in his strength, we bear up under unjust suffering, it doesn’t mean we don’t bleed, i.e. that we don’t feel the pain of it all or that we don’t cry it out to God or that we are not affected by it. If we are followers of Jesus, and we have his heart of compassion for people, and we are sensitive to people’s needs, we will feel it when we are rejected and ignored and falsely accused. But, we have to give those hurts and those tears over to the Lord in prayer and allow him to comfort us.
People will come against us in many different ways. Some people are facing enormous physical persecution, and that is devastating. Some are facing much hardship due to loss of income because they were fired from their job because of their faith in Jesus Christ. And, others are suffering more from rejection and false accusations and abandonment and harsh words meant to stab the heart. But, we must not fear what humans may do to us, but we must trust the Lord with our lives, and commit our ways to him, instead.
If we are challenged with regard to what we believe or why we believe the way that we do, we should be prepared to give an answer, yet we should never get nasty or hateful with people, for then we have just blown our testimony. Now, this does not mean that we can’t be strong in what we say, and assured of what we believe, but that we should not make cutting or nasty remarks to those who oppose us, but we should always speak the truth in love.
1 Peter 3:17-18 ESV
For it is better to suffer for doing good, if that should be God’s will, than for doing evil. For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit.
What this all comes down to is that we, who are followers of Jesus, should follow his example in how to live, in how to treat others, in how to respond to unjust treatment, and in how to love others with the love of God.
Jesus suffered much for us so that we could be set free of our slavery to sin and walk in his righteousness. And, we, too, should be willing to suffer, that we might bring others to faith in Jesus Christ and to freedom from their sinful lifestyles, so that they, too, can live for Jesus, living holy lives, pleasing to him.
But, just know that those who may one day turn their hearts to Jesus may persecute us now, and turn their backs on us, and slander and betray us, for they are fighting against God, and they are resisting yielding to the Lordship of Jesus Christ, because they are holding on to their flesh.
But, we must be willing to persevere in loving them, and in sharing the gospel of our salvation, so that many will be saved before our Lord’s soon return. So, don’t lose heart! Keep on keeping on, and give it all to Jesus.
An Original Work / July 15, 2013
My heart cries: Lord, won’t You hear me
Seeking You for the answers
To my heartache and questions
I have concerning my life?
Speak, Lord, to me right now.
“Oh, dear one, why don’t you trust Me
With your life’s circumstances?
Give your all on the altar
In submission of your will
To My purpose for you.
“Surrender your life completely
To your Lord and your Savior.
He has all things planned for you
For His glory and honor.
He’ll work all things for good.
“Believe Him. He will fulfill all
Of His promises to you
For your life and your future.
Trust Him. Rest in His love.
He’ll give you peace from above.”
Wednesday, November 14, 2018