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.”
Unity of Mind
“Unity” is a big buzzword these days coming from the heads of governments of nations and coming from the institutional church globally. They want us all to be unified, to be of one voice, one heart, and one mind so that we are not fighting amongst ourselves and so that we are all following them and whatever they tell us to do. But is that is what is intended here? No!
In today’s modern gatherings of the institutional church, unity is being stressed, but it is not usually unity with God and with the word of God but it is unity with business plans and goals and with the marketing schemes these institutional churches (not the true church) are engaged in in order to grow their churches. And some pastors are telling their people if they cannot unify with them that they should find someplace else to go.
Those who are not willing to unify with these man-made plans for the Lord’s church are often called out as “disunifiers,” and Bible verses are then thrown at them to try to intimidate them into unifying. But we need to be so careful what we are unifying with, for not everything is of God that says it is of God. So first and foremost this unity of mind is unity of mind with God and with his word and if anything doesn’t agree with that, we are to discard it.
Also, for us as believers in Jesus to have unity of mind with one another we all need to first of all have unity of mind with God/Jesus and with his word. For just because some people profess faith in Jesus Christ or they claim to be Christians does not mean at all that they are united with our Lord and with the teachings of Scripture. Many, in fact, are not, for they have united instead with the world and so they have the mind of the world, not of God.
So just make certain that you unite with what is of God and not with what is not of God, but is of man, instead. Test everything. Don’t believe everything you hear even from the mouths of preachers, for many of them are wolves in sheep’s clothing who are leading people astray and into sin instead of to dying with Christ to sin and living to God and to his righteousness. For many are not teaching obedience to the Lord nor submission to him as Lord.
Unity of Brotherly Love
Whether it is unity of mind or of sympathy or of brotherly love or of a tender heart or of a humble mind it still must all first and foremost be unity with God and with the teachings of Scripture which are to be applied to our lives as followers of Jesus Christ. So, in all these things, test them against the word of God and against the character of God to make sure they agree with God before you get on board with any of it.
So, if we are loving one another as we ought, that love should be obedient to the Lord, preferring what He prefers and submitting to his purposes. So, this is not going to be worldly or fleshly love based in human emotion and passion and desire. If we love one another as we ought, our primary concern for one another should be our walks of faith and the forsaking of sin and walking in obedience to our Lord, for this is the will of God for our lives.
So, we are not going to sympathize with those who are deliberately doing evil. Now we may identify with them from our past lives of sin, and so we may have compassionate and tender hearts towards them, for we were once trapped in sin. But that tenderness and compassion should lead us to speaking the truth in love to them and not to coddling them in their sins. For they need to hear the truth and they need to obey the truth. We do, too.
Also, being of humble mind doesn’t mean we don’t speak about sin or salvation or repentance or obedience to our Lord. So many people accuse those of us who are taking the gospel to the ends of the earth of being self-righteous or hyper-religious, and this is because we are confronting the reality of sin in people’s lives with the truth that we must die with Christ to sin and live to him and to his righteousness.
In reality, if we are doing this in the power of the Spirit, it takes great humility to do this because we are going to be attacked and falsely accused and mistreated and hated as Jesus was hated. So, there is no self-glory in taking the truth of the gospel to people, especially knowing that the message is going to be rebuked and opposed and that we will be hated and rejected and not usually greatly loved and appreciated in return.
Do Not Repay Evil
But when people do evil against us because of our faith in Jesus Christ and because of our walks of obedience to the Lord, and because we are speaking the truth of the gospel and not the lies of the world, we are not to get even with them. Instead we are to pray for them, do good to them, and say to them what will benefit them spiritually, which is for their good. We are to love them as Jesus loved us and gave his life up for us for our deliverance.
And this means that we will care enough about them to tell them the truth of the gospel and of how they can be delivered from their lives of slavery to sin and how they can have new lives in Christ Jesus free from the control of sin. So we will tell them what Jesus said, that they must deny self and take up their cross daily (daily die with Christ to sin) and follow (obey) him, and that if they hold on to their lives of sin that they will die in their sins.
And we will tell them the truth that will save their souls even though we know that we will most likely be hated and mistreated in return unless, of course, they believe in Jesus, and they turn from their sins, and they turn to follow Jesus in obedience to his ways. And then they will thank us, but we will give God all the glory, for only in the power of God’s Spirit can we do this for those who hate us and who may murder us in return.
[Lu 9:23-26; Jn 6:35-58; Jn 15:1-11; Rom 6:1-23; Rom 8:1-17; Eph 4:17-24; 1 Pet 2:24; 1 Co 6:9-10, 19-20; 2 Co 5:10, 15; Tit 2:11-14; Jas 1:22-25; Gal 5:16-21; Eph 5:3-6; Gal 6:7-8; Rom 2:6-8; Matt 7:21-23; Heb 10:26-27; 1 Jn 1:5-9; 1 Jn 2:3-6; 1 Jn 3:4-10; Rom 12:1-2; Eph 2:8-10]
Oh, to Be Like Thee, Blessed Redeemer
Lyrics by Thomas O. Chisholm, 1897
Music by W. J. Kirkpatrick, 1897
Oh, to be like Thee! blessèd Redeemer,
This is my constant longing and prayer;
Gladly I’ll forfeit all of earth’s treasures,
Jesus, Thy perfect likeness to wear.
Oh, to be like Thee! full of compassion,
Loving, forgiving, tender and kind,
Helping the helpless, cheering the fainting,
Seeking the wandering sinner to find.
O to be like Thee! lowly in spirit,
Holy and harmless, patient and brave;
Meekly enduring cruel reproaches,
Willing to suffer others to save.
O to be like Thee! while I am pleading,
Pour out Thy Spirit, fill with Thy love;
Make me a temple meet for Thy dwelling,
Fit me for life and Heaven above.
Oh, to be like Thee! Oh, to be like Thee,
Blessèd Redeemer, pure as Thou art;
Come in Thy sweetness, come in Thy fullness;
Stamp Thine own image deep on my heart.
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