1 Peter is a letter of encouragement written to newly saved Christians who were suffering. Perhaps some of these persecuted babes in Christ were beginning to wonder if they had made the right decision. More than one young Christian has professed that life became harder ‘after they became a Christian’ – than before. Why is this? Once we become a Christian, we become an enemy to Satan and as long as we are living in this world, we are on his turf. (see 2 Corinthians 4:4)
Peter tried to help these suffering Christians gain a heavenly perspective on their persecution. He did not pretend that their suffering was not real, nor that if they would begin to do certain things, their suffering would go away. Instead he sought to help them see that God could use their persecution (1) to purify and strengthen their faith, and (2) to provide them the opportunity to share their faith with those who were against them.
1 Peter 3:8 Finally, all of you, have unity of mind, sympathy, brotherly love, a tender heart, and a humble mind. 9 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. 10 For “Whoever desires to love life and see good days, let him keep his tongue from evil and his lips from speaking deceit; 11 let him turn away from evil and do good; let him seek peace and pursue it. 12 For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, and his ears are open to their prayer. But the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.”
Someone has said that ‘Attitude Determines Altitude.’ By that they mean – how we react to our circumstances often has more to do with our happiness and wellbeing than our circumstances. Peter knew that it would be easy for these suffering believers to get pulled down spiritually. The temptation for many would be to revert back to their old fleshly ways. It would be easy to become angry, cynical, and vengeful. Yet Peter also knew that living in the flesh would never enable them to experience the peace of God. Reacting sinfully to a difficult situation does us more harm than good. Therefore, Peter did all he could to help them rise above their trouble.
How do we rise above our difficult circumstances? Strange as it may sound, the Bible teaches us that the way up – is down. In a couple of weeks we will study these words from 1 Peter – “Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” (1 Peter 5:5) Notice, God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.
Though it sometimes seems like the logical thing to do, it is never beneficial for us to become angry or resentful. Spiritual strength (God’s grace) comes when we humbly submit ourselves to the Lord and allow Him to have His way. In closing, carefully consider the biblical principles Peter tries to teach us:
– Always be humble, tenderhearted and full of Christian love.
– Bless those who persecute you – bless and curse not.
– Resist the temptation to become angry and argumentative. Instead, seek the peace of God in every situation
– Put your life in God’s hands and trust Him to take care of you.
On a side note, as I wrote out these principles I was amazed at how much they parallel what Jesus said in His Sermon on the Mount.
God bless you and have a great weekend!