"Finally, all of you, live in harmony with one another; be sympathetic; love as brothers, be compassionate and humble. Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult, but with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing." (1 Pet. 3:8, 9)
- Here again I am struck with the remembrance of Jesus' last prayer as recorded in John chapter 17, "May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me." Paul's exhortation in 1 Cor. 13 also comes to mind, that the greatest of all the fruit of the Spirit is love.
- "Live in harmony with one another," Peter says. "Be sympathetic; love as brothers, be compassionate and humble." He tells us how to do it by not repaying evil with evil or trading insult for insult but rather with blessing. How are we doing? If we were to ask the world around us, "How are we doing?" By looking at our individual lives, I wonder what they would say? I think, sadly, we already know how they judge us as a whole. As I look around at all the churches on street corners, sometimes 3 and 4 on one corner, I wonder why we don't have more of an impact. Could it be failure to obey the above instruction? We fail to love one another? We fail to sacrifice ourselves for each other, as Christ did for us? Paul said in Phil. 2:3, "Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others."
- We're still too sensitive. Still too caught up in our flesh. Still following the world where "I" am the center of the universe; where it's all about me. That's the opposite of Christ's example and teaching. We're still babes, where by now some of us should be more mature. Father, help us please.
Continuing in 1 Peter 3: 10-12:
"Whoever would love life and see good days must keep his tongue from evil and his lips from evil speech. He must turn from evil and do good; he must seek peace and pursue it. For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous and his ears are attentive to their prayer, but the face of the Lord is against those who do evil."
- Often God's promises are contingent on obedience to a command. Here he says if we would love life and see good days, we must refrain from evil speech. We must turn from evil and do good. We must SEEK peace and PURSUE it. This is continuous; a continuous dying to the flesh. We're in a marathon, not a sprint. We, the collective body of Christ, are in the Olympics, in case no one told you, and the world is our audience. In our race, many obstacles are thrown in our path to test our obedience, or to strengthen our faith and develop perseverance. When the other runners on the track push us or cause us to fall, how do we respond? Do we show sportsmanship or throw a tantrum? Do we get up and keep running as though it's just about us or care for any others that may have tripped and fallen or may have been hurt, like in Jesus' parable about the Good Samaritan?
- "For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous and his ears are attentive to their prayer." Ahhh, how that encourages me. He sees, He knows, He cares and He hears me. Whether man shows appreciation or not for the sacrifices, whether man understands or not, God does. It is He that we serve and desire to please. It is He who gives us the strength to keep going.
At the end of 1 Peter chapter 5, Peter instructs, "Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings."
- Many of us know the first part of that popular verse well, that "your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion..." But there's strong encouragement in the second half of that verse. "RESIST him... STAND firm in the faith, BECAUSE... your brothers throughout the WORLD are undergoing the same kind of sufferings."
"Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves.
A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.
- Ecclesiastes 4:12