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.”
We, as followers of Jesus, are to have unity of mind with one another, but that is not unity of human minds, but the mind of Christ. And, it is critical that we know the difference, because “unity” is being stressed much within today’s market-driven and flesh-driven church, but that is unity with man, and with human marketing schemes and business goals and plans. And, it is often unity with a half-truth watered-down gospel of men, too.
So, the unity we are to have with one another, as followers of Jesus, is unity of the mind of Christ. And, so we need to learn to know the mind of Christ. Yet, we are not going to learn it unless we are bathing our minds and hearts with the Word of God (IN CONTEXT), and unless we are following our Lord in obedience to his Word, and unless we are listening to what He says.
And, we are not going to know the mind of Christ, too, if we are, instead, bathing our minds and hearts with the words of men, and with business marketing schemes, and with worldly philosophy; or if we are filling our minds and hearts with the pleasures and passions of our sinful flesh and of this sinful world.
Yet, if we have unity of mind and heart with our Lord Jesus, then all else flows from that. For, we will also be likeminded with Christ in our love for others, in our emotions and sympathies towards others, and in our humbleness of mind and heart.
But, we will also have the passions of Christ, and his concerns, and his burdens for the hearts of men and women. And, we will learn, too, to love (prefer, be passionate about) what he loves, and to hate what he hates.
And, Jesus loves purity of devotion to him, faithfulness, holiness, righteousness, morality, decency, uprightness, kindness, thoughtfulness, tenderness of heart, humility, submission to him as Lord, and walks of obedience to his commands. And, these things, too, we should love (embrace, prefer, seek after, long for).
And Jesus, i.e. God, hates wickedness, evil, lies, adultery, sexual immorality, deceit, cheating, stealing, murder, hatred, violence, gossip and anything that willfully hurts others and that causes them damage and harm.
Yet, although we are to hate wickedness, and thus we should not participate in it at any level, as a matter of life course, especially, we are to love those who do evil against us. We are to pray for them, do good to them, and bless them. We are to do to them or for them what is physically, morally, and spiritually beneficial to them, which is for their well-being (for their welfare).
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.”
This “love” of life is not the selfish kind of what is called “love,” but is really “lust.” It is not a hunger after the things of the flesh or of this sinful world. This will (desire) to love life has to do with agape love, which is God-like love which prefers what God prefers. It prefers, and it seeks after, and it takes pleasure in what is of God, not of the flesh of man (of humans).
So, it prefers to live life through Christ, and it embraces his will for our lives, and it chooses what he chooses, and it obeys his commands through His power and strength. And, what God prefers is what is holy, righteous, pure, just, moral, upright, godly, faithful and kind and loving.
And, life is not just physical life on this earth, or the abundant life that we have through faith in Jesus Christ, but it is eternal life with God, too. And, it is the life of the Spirit of God living within us, and it is life with purpose, direction, and the peace of God in our lives. For, it is not life absent of God, but it is life sustained by God.
Thus, if we want to have this life in the Spirit of God, which is a life of fulfillment in our Lord Jesus, and which results in life everlasting with God, then we need to (must) turn away from evil and do good. We must forsake our former lives of living for sin and self, we must be transformed in heart and mind of the Spirit of God, and we absolutely have to walk with our Lord in obedience to his commands.
And, the peace we must pursue is not the kind of peace the world goes after, but it is peace with God. And, it is critical we understand this, too, for “peace” and “unity” are buzz words that are being thrown around a lot these days in the market-driven church and within governments of nations. But, our unity and our peace must be with God, first and foremost. And, what unity or what peace we have with others has to coincide with our peace and unity with God, i.e. we make no compromises with the world of sin.
And, we must understand here, too, that our Lord did not die on that cross just to forgive us our sins and so that we could continue in sin unhindered and without guilt or remorse. The Lord is against those who choose to do evil. He is not on your side if you are living in sin in willful rebellion against him. He is not your best buddy. He is against you, not for you. And, if you continue on a sinful course, you will not be with him for eternity, either.
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.”
So, we need to stay on a steady course with our Lord Jesus, in death to sin, and in living to righteousness, in his power and strength. We need to remain steadfast in spirit in following our Lord in obedience to his commands, even in the face of all opposition – even in the face of much persecution, even coming from the church and from others who profess faith in Jesus Christ.
And, we must always be prepared to give a defense for our faith in Jesus Christ, and for why we believe the way that we do. But, we must not be argumentative with people in the sense of getting into fights with them over doctrine or over differences in beliefs and practices. That serves no good purpose, but only harms the cause of Christ. Too many Christians are fighting among themselves and out in the public eye, too, particularly on social media, including on Christian-based websites. And, that is wrong!
Jesus is our example for how we are to respond to unjust suffering at the hands of those who are against us. And, his example expands far beyond the moments before his death when he was silent, for he wasn’t even silent the whole time he was being falsely accused, falsely put on trial, and beaten mercilessly. And, he wasn’t silent in the face of false accusations during his life of ministry, either. But, he spoke the truth in love consistently.
So, don’t buy into the lies which tell you that silence is somehow godly. God didn’t call us to be silent. He did call us to be godly in how we deal with opposition, and there may be moments when silence is the best option, but we are to keep on sharing our faith and speaking against the lies, and we are to keep on teaching the truth, even in the face of death. But, when we speak the truth, it needs to be in “love.”
But, love means to prefer what God prefers, so love is not some mushy gushy feeling that compromises faith and conviction in order to make others feel good about themselves in their sins and that never confronts sin or calls for repentance and walks of obedience with Christ.
True love cares more about the salvation of human lives than it does about people liking us. And, Jesus is the epitome of true love, for he gave his life up for us on that cross so that we would be delivered out of our slavery to sin, and so that we could live holy and godly lives, pleasing to him. And, this is how we are to love others, too.
Footprints of Jesus
Lyrics by Mary B. Slade, pub. 1871
Music by Asa B. Everett
Sweetly, Lord, have we heard Thee calling,
Come, follow Me!
And we see where Thy footprints falling
Lead us to Thee.
Though they lead o’er the cold, dark mountains,
Seeking His sheep;
Or along by Siloam’s fountains,
Helping the weak.
If they lead through the temple holy,
Preaching the Word;
Or in homes of the poor and lowly,
Serving the Lord.
Though, dear Lord, in Thy pathway keeping,
We follow Thee;
Through the gloom of that place of weeping,
Then, at last, when on high He sees us,
Our journey done,
We will rest where the steps of Jesus
End at His throne.
Footprints of Jesus,
That make the pathway glow;
We will follow the steps of Jesus
Where’er they go.
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