Peter was present when Jesus preached the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7). We can safely guess that Peter heard this message more than once as he walked with Jesus.
In his letter to suffering Jewish Christians, he incorporated the Sermon and Psalm 34 into his counsel.
Finally, all of you, have unity of spirit, sympathy, love for one another, a tender heart, and a humble mind (1 Peter 3.8).
What should be the Christian’s response to suffering, persecution, and oppression? Peter challenges his readers to five actions that characterize a response like Jesus lived and taught.
(1) Unity of spirit – Paul best captures the essence of “unity of spirit.”
If, then, there is any comfort in Christ, any consolation from love, any partnership in the Spirit, any tender affection and sympathy,
Make my joy complete: be of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind.
Do nothing from selfish ambition or empty conceit, but in humility regard others as better than yourselves.
Let each of you look not to your own interests but to the interests of others (Philippians 2.1-4).
(2) Sympathy – When others suffer, Jesus’ followers suffer with them.
(3) Love one another – Jesus taught that love is what distinguishes his disciples from the rest of the world.
“I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another.
“By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13.34-35).
(4) A tender heart – This attitude adds texture to the all-encompassing command to “love one another.”
(5) A humble mind – Humility was not highly regarded in the ancient world. It was viewed as degraded social status.
For the Christian, humility imitates Jesus and is modeled after him (humble mind).
Ben Witherington III makes this point, “Humility comes not from a low understanding of self, but of a high understanding of God.”
How do Christians respond to suffering, persecution, and oppression? We reflect God’s glory by responding with the above five attitudes and actions.
Retaliation is a natural response, but not a Christian one. While drawing from the spirit of the Beatitudes (Matthew 5), Peter writes:
Do not repay evil for evil or abuse for abuse, but, on the contrary, repay with a blessing. It is for this that you were called — that you might inherit a blessing (1 Peter 3.9)
Receiving can not be separated from giving.
If we incorporate the behavior mentioned in verse 8 into our response to evil, we will open the door for God to bless us in ways that only he can create.
Good Life Behavior
Peter quotes Psalm 34 about the kind of life that creates an atmosphere for abundant living.
“Those who desire to love life
and to see good days,
let them keep their tongues from evil
and their lips from speaking deceit;
‘Let them turn away from evil and do good;
let them seek peace and pursue it.
“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.” (1 Peter 3.10-12)
Peter’s logical counsel can be summarized as this.
(1) Cease speaking evil and with deceit.
(2) Turn from evil and do good.
(3) Why? God’s eyes and ears are on people who do this. Whoever wants their prayers heard must hear and do God’s will.
Rudy Ross and I continue our discussion of 1 Peter on YouTube. You can see the video on the Bob Spradling channel.
Please email your prayer request to email@example.com. The Maywood prayer team will pray for you.