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.”
When the Scriptures instruct us to have unity of mind, they are speaking of the mind of Christ, not of the world, and not of business marketing schemes. So, be careful with whom and with what you unite yourself in mind, for not all have the mind of Christ.
And, when they instruct us regarding having sympathy, brotherly love, and a tender heart, they are not speaking of pacifying, coddling, or consoling ourselves or our fellow Christians in sinful lifestyles. For, love does no harm to its neighbor.
Sympathy demonstrates genuine concern for others and for what they are going through, but its desire will always be for what is in the best interest of the one suffering. Brotherly love will also consider what is spiritually beneficial and healthful for other believers above human emotion.
A humble mind will not be self-abasing. For, that is still a focus on self and is often a ploy to draw attention and sympathy to oneself. A humble mind will put the focus on the Lord and on others and on pleasing God and doing his will and not on pleasing oneself.
When people do evil to us, we should not desire to get even with them. We should not trade “tit for tat,” in doing unto them what they do unto us. But we should pray for them, do good to them, love them, and say to them and about them what will be spiritually healthful for them. And, then we need to leave all vengeance in the hands of God.
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.”
What does it mean to love life? Well, the word for “love” here is agape which is godlike love which prefers what God prefers, which is what is moral, upright, and godly. It is to take pleasure in what is of God, and it is to prefer to live through Christ and to do his will.
And “life” is both physical and spiritual. So, if we prefer to live physically and to live with Christ for eternity and to enjoy that spiritual union with Christ that we are afforded by God’s grace, through faith in Jesus, then we need to turn away from sin, and we need to embrace holiness and righteousness.
We must not speak evil. Out of our mouths should not come what is ungodly, unholy, impure, immoral, unrighteous, and wicked. And, we should not speak lies, even what some people call “white lies.” We should not say anything to deceive or to mislead others to believe something that is not true. And, we should not withhold the truth from others to whom it is due.
Instead, we are to be those who turn away from evil, who forsake sin, and who embrace righteousness. We are to be those who do what is good in the eyes of God, not in the eyes of mankind. And, the peace we are to pursue is not absence of conflict, but an inner peace of the mind and heart which comes through submission to Christ and obedience to his commands.
Contrary to what some people are teaching today, when we believe in Jesus, God does not then turn a blind eye to our sin. And, he does not delight in us while we are willfully, knowingly and premeditatively rebelling against him by continuing in sinful practices without regard for God and for his word.
The Lord’s eyes are on those who are living in his righteousness and who are doing what he says as a matter of practice, of lifestyle. He is attentive to their prayers. But his face is against those who practice evil, even against those who profess his name but who are continuing to live in sin.
1 Peter 3:13-17 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.”
In an ideal world, no one would willfully do what would cause harm to others. But we don’t live in an ideal world. We live in a sin sick world, which is getting worse by the minute. Thus, persecution of the righteous saints of God, i.e. of those who are walking by the Spirit of God, is on the rise.
But the Scriptures teach many times over that, as followers of Jesus, we should expect to be hated by the world, and even by the worldly church, and we should anticipate that we will be called upon to suffer for the sake of righteousness and for the sake of the gospel of our salvation.
So, when persecution does come knocking on our doors, we should not be troubled by it, for we know that it is inevitable if we are truly following Jesus and his commands. So, we must surrender our lives to the Lord and believe in his sovereignty and trust him to give us the grace to handle it and for him to give us the words to say, too.
For, it isn’t just that people are going to ask us why we believe what we believe, but it is more often that they will challenge what we believe, and so we may be called upon to give a defense as to why we believe what we do.
So, when challenged, we are not to get nasty or to say what is spiteful, but we are to respond with grace. Now we can respond with the strength of the Lord and with the conviction of what the Scriptures teach in the power of the authority of God and of Scripture. We don’t have to be weak to show humility. And, we must not back away from truth to appear gentle, either.
For, gentleness is controlled strength. We don’t lose the strength of conviction of the truth of God’s word. We just don’t lose our cool and say things we shouldn’t say. For, as soon as we lose our cool and we let the temper fly, we have lost our testimony right there, and we are circumventing any chance we had of being a witness for Christ.
We must maintain good character, a good attitude, and we must walk the walk and not just talk it. Also, we need to answer with Scripture and not our own opinions. For what we think about something and what the word of God says about it may not be the same. The power to convict hearts comes from the word of God and not from ourselves.
Now, I am not saying we can’t teach the word of God by sharing what the Lord is teaching us through his word, but what we share should align with Scripture and not come from the thinking and reasoning of human minds.
For only the word of God has the power to change human hearts. And, the goal should be to see human lives changed by the power of God, moved away from sinful lifestyles to now walking in purity and holiness in the power of God now living within them, so that they have eternal life with God.
How Beautiful Heaven Must Be
Songwriters: A. P. Bland / A. S. Bridgewater / Dwight Moody Brock
We read of a place that’s called heaven,
It’s made for the pure and the free;
These truths in God’s word He has given,
How beautiful heaven must be.
How beautiful heaven must be
Sweet home of the happy and free;
Fair haven of rest for the weary,
How beautiful heaven must be.
Caution: This link may contain ads