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.
This is written to the church, but not to the church as we often think of church today. For, the church is not a building. It is not an edifice of human making. It is also not a religious denomination, or an organization or a corporation of human origin (making). It is also not a mixture of believers in Jesus, and of just professors of faith in Jesus, and of those who don’t believe in him. It is also not a place for good clean family entertainment, either.
The church is all those people who truly believe in Jesus Christ as Lord and as Savior of their lives, who have died with Christ to sin, and who should be continuing to daily put sin to death, by the Spirit of God. And, it is those who are living to Christ and to his righteousness, by the Spirit, who are walking (in lifestyle, in practice) according to (in agreement with) the Spirit of God. We are the church, the body of Christ. We are the holy temple of God.
We, who are united with Christ by his Spirit, and through God-given faith in Jesus Christ, are also to be united in spirit with one another. And, what unites us is the Spirit of God, not anything of human making. We are united by faith in Jesus Christ and in his Word – his gospel message of salvation from sin.
But, this unity is not just positional. It is in practice. For, we have to put our faith into practice daily, in how we relate to one another, for us to be truly united together in heart, mind and in brotherly love and sympathy.
1 Peter 3:10-12 ESV
For “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.”
We still live in flesh bodies, and the flesh is at war with the Spirit, and the Spirit is at war with the flesh. So, we have to daily choose to die to our flesh and to submit to the Lord in all ways, and to put on that armor of God with which to fight off Satan’s evil schemes against us.
And, we have to make it our practice to put off lies, and to tell the truth, to put off stealing, and to work and to give to others, and to put off gossip, adultery, hatred, bitterness, and unforgiveness, etc. so that we can put on love and kindness (See Ephesians 4-5).
But, love and kindness and blessing are not to be viewed from human understanding or standards, or by the culture of our world today. The way we love each other should be with agape love, which prefers what God prefers, which is what is holy, righteous, pure, moral, upright and honest.
And, to bless others is to do and to say what is truly for their benefit, for what is best for them in the sight of God, not in the sight of man. And, kindness, as well, thinks about what is best for others, by God’s viewpoint, and thus it never lies to anyone, for lies are never kind, even if you hear differently. But, the truth should be spoken in love, not in bitterness.
So, because we are loving one another as God loves us, thinking about what is truly best for others, and not just thinking about how we can please ourselves, then we are not going to make it our practice to sin against one another and to do them harm.
Thus, if they hurt us in any way, we are not going to retaliate, but we will leave them in the hands of God. We may have to confront them in love concerning their actions against us, but we leave the wrath to God.
1 Peter 3:13-18 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. 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.
It would be nice if, when we do good, it is always met with acceptance and kindness. But, that is not the case. For, we live in the world, and the world is fleshly. And, many people are not following Jesus Christ with their lives. And, we aren’t perfect people, in the sense of what we do all the time.
So, in reality, if we are zealous (passionate, fervent) about doing good, as God defines good, we are not always going to be loved for it in return. In fact, many will hate us, reject us, gossip about us, slander us, turn others against us, betray us, and they will persecute us for righteousness’ sake.
Yet, when this happens, or even before it happens, we are not to be afraid. We are not to fear what other humans may do to us or say to us or about us behind our backs. We are not to fear their rejection, betrayal and slander. We are not to fret being persecuted and hated for righteousness’ sake. Instead, we are to honor Christ as our Lord by continuing to do what he says to do, and what he has called us to do, even knowing we may be rejected.
As well, when we are persecuted, and when people do come against us, and when they blaspheme the gospel of our salvation, and when they distort it in order to make it more appealing to human flesh, we need to be ready to defend the truth of the gospel of our salvation, for that is our hope. For, it is the only hope that anyone can have in this world. So, we defend the truth of it against the lies so that people will believe the truth and have true hope.
But, we are to do this with gentleness and respect. This gentleness, nonetheless, is not to be confused with weakness. For there is nothing weak about it. It is gentle strength, like divine meekness, “which expresses power with reserve and gentleness” (1). And, this respect (fear, reverence), which I believe to be the fear of God and reverence for him, then results in us treating others in a kind, respectful and loving manner, too.
And, lastly, when we do suffer unjustly for righteousness’ sake, we are to remember that Jesus Christ suffered unjustly, too, for our sake, to the point of shedding his blood for us on a cross. And, he did this to give us hope, and that we might be delivered out of our bondage (slavery, addiction) to sin, so that we can now walk in his holiness and purity of devotion to him. And, so we are blessed, for God has given his very life for us to set us free. Amen!
God is With Us
An Original Work / June 11, 2019
Based off Psalm 46
God’s our refuge. He is our strength,
A present help to us when in pain.
Therefore, we will not be afraid,
Although the earth beneath us gives way.
Though the mountains be moved to the sea,
Roaring waters abound so free,
And the mountains now tremble so,
We will not fear, God is near, we know.
God is with us and He makes glad
The hearts of all who to Christ have fled.
Christ is in us, so we’ll not fall
When on our Savior our hearts do call.
God will help us, as mornings arise,
To be faithful to His design.
Nations raging, and tempers flare.
Our God is with us. We know He cares.
Come and see the works of the Lord.
He’s armed for battle with His great sword.
He’s the Word, and He is the Life.
He gives us strength in all of our strife.
Be still and know that He is our God.
He’s exalted where’er He trods.
The Lord Almighty, with us still;
The God of Jacob, our citadel.
Friday, September 13, 2019