Monday, February 8, 2010

A Life of Blessing

Finally, all of you be of one mind, having compassion for one another; love as brothers, be tenderhearted, be courteous; not returning evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary blessing, knowing that you were called to this, that you may inherit a blessing. For
“He who would love life
And see good days,
Let him refrain 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 prayers;
But the face of the LORD is against those who do evil.”
(1 Peter 3:8-12)

Beginning with 1 Peter 2:13, he has been dealing with how believers, though scattered in exile, are to treat the unbelieving world around them, as well as how they are to live with each other. This includes their obligations toward governing authorities, how slaves are to respond to their masters (even harsh masters) and how believing wives are to behave toward their unbelieving husbands. Now he brings this section to a close with these words for all believers, whatever their circumstances. The Greek tense for all of these indicate continuous action; not one-time deeds but a way of life.

  • Be of one mind. Greek, homophron. Living in harmony, with no divisions, having the same mind and the same purpose (Romans 15:6; 1 Corinthians 1:10; Philippians 1:27). Paul tells us, “Let this mind be in you which as also in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 2:5-8).
  • Having compassion for one another. The Greek word is sympatheis and is made up of two parts: sym means “together;” patho is the experience of passion or suffering. This is where we get our word “sympathy.” It is an openness to one another that moves one to act on behalf of another, especially in a time of need or distress.
  • Love as brothers. Greek, philadelphoi. We are to live together as loving brother and sisters, recognizing that we belong together in the same family, with the God and Father of Jesus the Messiah as our own Father.
  • Be tenderhearted. The Greek word here, eusplagchnos, speaks of a depth of feeling, kindness and mercy towards another, even as that of a mother for her child.
  • Be courteous. Greek, philophron. Friendly-minded toward all, with the humility of love.
Peter is well aware that these believers are being treated unjustly and persecuted for their faith, and that this would continue. But they were not to respond in kind, trading insults or retaliating with curses. Instead, they were to respond with blessing. This echoes the teaching of Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount:
But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. (Matthew 5:44-45)
God has called us to inherit a blessing and to live it out in the world, even when people are evil toward us. “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good,” Paul says (Romans 12:21). When we pay back evil for evil, we have been overcome by it, but when we pay back evil with blessing instead of cursing, we overcome it. It is, of course, a matter that requires faith: “This is the victory that has overcome the world — our faith” (1 John 5:4). We need to trust that God will sort things out properly and set everything right.

Peter quotes from Psalm 34:8-12 (he alluded to Psalm 34:8 earlier, in 1 Peter 2:3, about tasting the goodness of the Lord). It is a song of thanksgiving David wrote about a time when he was living in exile among the Philistines and God answered his prayers for deliverance. It supports what Peter has been saying throughout this section: Those who want to enjoy a good life should refrain from speaking evil, but do good and diligently pursue peace. God looks with favor on those who do what is right, and He will answer their prayers. But let God deal with those who do evil and speak curses. This is how we live a life of blessing — blessing others and being blessed by God.



Keeping the Faith When Things Get Tough
Keeping the Faith When Things Get Tough
Peter’s Letter to Jesus Believers Scattered Everywhere
Bite-Sized Studies Through First Peter
by Jeff Doles

Preview with Amazon’s “Look Inside.”

Available in paperback and Kindle (Amazon), epub (Google and iTunes) and PDF.