1 Peter 3
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. – Vs 8-9
What if we actually did this? What if husbands and wives really did live these verses out in their marriages? What if members of the body of Christ were able to illustrate these truths in their lives together?
Can you imagine the impact we would have on the world around us? Everything Peter lists here is simply the outcome of a life lived in the Spirit. We can't manufacture it or muster it up in our own strength. At least, not for long. Yet because we are new creations with the Spirit of God living within us, we have the capacity to do all of these things. We really can live in harmony with one another, in our marriages, homes, and church. Which means we can be of "one mind," having a common focus, a single purpose for our lives. We can and should sympathize with one another, showing compassion and a mutual understanding of what the other person is going through. Think about that one. If we see a brother or sister, or a husband or wife struggling with sin or stumbling in their walk, we tend to look down our nose at them. We even criticize them, or worse yet, we avoid them. Instead we should have the attitude, "but for the grace of God go I." To sympathize with them is to feel their feelings, to understand their pain, and to express that understanding in love and compassion, not judgment. That's what it means to "love as brothers," compassionately and humbly, not mercilessly and pridefully.
We really can extend blessing to one another instead of getting back or getting even. As followers of Christ we can suffer insult or injury, even from those we love or those we attend church with, and keep a good conscience (Vs 16). We can respond in a Christ-like way because we have the Spirit of Christ within us. In fact, we can do all these things because it was for this purpose we were called. We are to be living out our transformed lives in the midst of life. It should be reflected in our behavior toward one another – in our homes, marriages, and churches. Believers loving believers. But it also extends beyond our relationships to one another to those outside the family of Christ. To our lost family members, neighbors, co-workers and friends. The words found in these two verses are a reflection of the words Jesus spoke in Luke 6:27-28.
But I tell you who hear me: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who ill-treat you."
This is the Christ life, the life to which we have been called. We are change agents in a world that is desperately looking for something different than the same old thing. We have what they are looking for: The hope that is in us (Vs 15) lived out in daily life through our actions. That is the best defense of the Gospel there ever was. Far more powerful than a well-articulated, biblically sound defense of the faith. Because actions really do speak louder than words.
Father, may I continue to learn to live these verses out in my daily life. Forgive me for the lack of harmony, sympathy, compassion and humility that so often marks my life. It is a reminder that I am living according to the flesh and not the Spirit. Open my eyes to see that You have called me to something far greater than to live out my own petty, self-absorbed life. I am called to be Your hands and feet on this earth, living out Your love to all those around me. Amen