Cornerstone EPC Sunday morning
Franklin, NC 28734 July 23, 2017
“Love Life, See Good Days”
Text: 1 Peter 3:8-12
Continue to recall what we have seen and heard heretofore in this punctuated sermon series through 1 Peter. We are in this world, but we are not of it; it is not Home. Instead we are aliens, exiles, strangers, pilgrims, and other like terms. We are also living stones built into a spiritual house, with Christ Jesus Himself as the Cornerstone. Because we are living stones, we are to look like living stones. This much is review.
Perhaps you have noted before today a notion becoming increasingly prominent as we proceed through 1 Peter. Indeed, it forms the backdrop for all the Spirit-inspired words we read from Peter pen through (at least) the end of chapter four. The notion is this: We may suffer for being Christians. We may suffer merely for wearing the Name of Him Who suffered in our steads at Calvary. This notion lies behind these welcome words we read today. We keep this notion, and all the foregoing, in view as we move from relative duties to general duties incumbent on the Christian. In so doing, we see—amid the difficulties incumbent upon walking with Christ—that we yet may love life and see good days. Let us give ourselves to hearing God’s Word in this place today.
(HERE READ THE TEXT)
This text begins with Peter listing the duties which we render unto each other in Christ—duties that echo those that Paul relayed to the Philippians in Philippians 2:1-4. We find these duties in 1 Peter 3:8. First, God calls us, through Peter, to unity of mind with one another. This does not mean that we seek—or force—lockstep agreement upon every jot and tittle of life. It does mean, to use Paul’s words to the Ephesians, that we make every effort to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace (Ephesians 4:3). We agree on the grand truths of our faith in Christ. We recall that we are redeemed by one Savior, animated by one Holy Spirit, and induced by that Spirit to glorify our one Heavenly Father. Too often needless divisions have fractured the visible expression of Christ’s Body on earth—the visible Church. Let it not be said of us that we contributed to such. Rather, let us seek the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.
Next, God calls us to be sympathetic, and to express sympathy, toward our fellow believer in Christ Jesus. Closely related to this is another injunction in this verse, namely, to grow and to express tender compassion to your fellow Christian. Looking not only to our own interests, but also those of others, leads us to note our fellow believer’s lacks, disappointments, and other pains. Too often Christians deal with each other in a harshly judgmental way—at least one has said that the Christian army is the only one that shoots its wounded. Again, let not such be said of us. Let us, rather, show sympathy and compassion one for another as the occasion demands.
Next, God calls us to feel, and to express, appropriate affection for our fellow Christian. The English Standard Version enjoins us here to brotherly love—an apt translation, to be sure, for the Greek word translated is the plural of the Greek philadelphia (filadelfia); hence, brotherly love. Let us have cordial esteem for one another. Let us express that in ways that the recipient will interpret as Christian love. Many an assemblage of Christian folk believe themselves warm, friendly, and the like—but, alas, this is not true as often as is claimed. Again, let us not be cool, even lukewarm, in our regard for fellow Christians. Let us be appropriately warm in our relations with each other.
Finally here, God calls us to display a humble mind toward each other. God has not called us to boastful, self-aggrandizing expression toward others—especially not toward our fellow believers. We do well to shun such expression. In place of this, let us express ourselves in proper lowliness—esteeming others, especially our fellow Christian, better than self. Thus, we edify the other and glorify God.
Peter, now finishing these duties incumbent upon Christians toward each other, now turns by the Spirit’s leading to our duties toward unbelieving maligners. In short, if such folk would do us ill or speak ill of us, then we must not repay evil for evil—neither reviling for reviling. On the contrary, we have the privilege of blessing them. The word here rendered bless is the Greek root word (Greek eulogeo [eulogew]) of our English word eulogy. Doubtless, we shall need an extra measure of the Spirit’s help to comply with this directive (and maybe two extra measures under particularly trying circumstances), but the Lord, by His grace, will help us to bless our maligners both by word and by deed. To this we are called, in order that we may obtain a blessing from God—and those maligners who receive our blessing may feel the heat of the burning coals atop their heads, which Solomon, through Paul assures us they will feel (cf. Proverbs 25:21, Romans 12:21).
Peter, having dispatched duties toward Christians and toward unbelieving maligners, now turns to further admonitions toward loving life and seeing good days. In these verses Peter quotes Psalm 34:12-16 almost verbatim—a psalm in which David rejoiced before the Lord for the preservation his life. First, God calls us to speak well—with speech free from evil and free from deceit. In this we shall comply will a difficult task, as James notes in his letter (James 3:2-12)—that of taming the tongue. Second, God calls us to turn from evil and to do good. This is repentance in a nutshell. When we repent, either at conversion or later, we—by the Spirit of God—see that our present course is wrong, turn from the wrong course, and turn to the right course and walk therein. Indeed, let us turn from the evil and do the good.
Third, God calls us to seek and pursue peace. Many souls, inexplicably to my soul, spoil for a fight. We note that someone either has a burr in the saddle or a bee in the bonnet—and such states conduce to irritability and contentiousness. Alas, many love to see discord, and some of those love to sow it as well. These are not the postures of the healthy Christian. We need to seek peace if it is lost from our experience, and we need to pursue peace should it run from us. Let us pray for this precious peace—and let us facilitate it, if God grant the ability so to do.
Here is the rationale for these things that lead to good days and loving life: The Lord’s eye is on those whom He has made righteous is Christ. We never escape His notice, and His eye ever is on us for good. Moreover, He inclines His ear to our pleas. He loves to hear our cries unto Him, and He loves to satisfy His redeemed ones with an abundance of good things. As we walk in the redemption which Christ secured for us on the cross, we love life and see good days. However, the face of the Lord is against the evildoer. Let none within the sound of my voice or in sight of this manuscript be named among that doleful number. If you be outside Christ this day, then may the Lord give you eyes to see your dangerous situation and to see Jesus as the sole remedy for it. Then may He give you encouragement to trust Him for your rescue, and place your faith in Christ without delay.
Our world offers many components that, taken together, constitute what it calls the life or the good life. Often these components are activities (some admittedly thrilling and risky) and things (generally denied all but a select few). The world’s idea of life is not life at all. Rather, we have a way of life, given by the Author of Life, which brings us to love life and to see good days—and this even in the midst of God’s providential adversities. Therefore, even though this is not our final home, let us, by God’s grace, walking in these things mentioned today, love life in Jesus Christ and see good days in Him.