1 Peter 3:8-12

1 Peter 3:8‑12  •  7 min. read  •  grade level: 8
More general exhortation succeeds.
“Finally [be] all likeminded, sympathetic, brother-loving, tender-hearted, humble-minded; not rendering evil for evil, or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary blessing, because hereunto ye were called, that ye should inherit blessing. For he that will love life and see good days, let him stop his tongue from evil and his lips that they speak no guile; and let him turn away from evil and do good; let him seek peace and pursue it; because [the] Lord's eyes [are] on the righteous and his ears unto their supplication; but [the] Lord's face is against evil-doers” (vers. 8-12).
It is Christ alone who makes these desires possible in those who are His. But less than this could not satisfy the apostle ever in the presence of weakness and contrariety. They were called out of sin and ruin and misery to blessing, and were therefore to be the witnesses and channels of grace in a world and a race which had fallen under curse. They were already begotten again according to the much mercy of the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ through His resurrection from the dead unto a living hope, unto an inheritance incorruptible, undefiled, and unfading, reserved in heaven for them; and they were blessed with other privileges of love, and holiness, and dignity in the highest degree, as we have seen, according to the fullness of Christ. For He that spared not His own Son but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?
Thus it is plain that our duties flow from our relationships conferred by sovereign grace in Christ according to the glory of His Person and the efficacy of His redeeming work. They are therefore not only beyond all price but unchanging; and they are the ground of our new responsibilities. Christ by His death met and closed our old responsibilities, in which we were lost; and by His resurrection He has ushered us who believe into an entirely new standing of soul-salvation and blessing, whilst here below, and waiting for the completion of His grace as to our bodies also and in heavenly glory. We can therefore without affectation and in the Spirit bless God, and are a holy priesthood to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. For He ever liveth to make intercession for His own. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? He that bore our sins in His body on the tree, lost and dead as we were in evil, lives also to make the fruit of our lives, our praises, acceptable to God. What that issues by the Spirit from our hearts and lips can have a place, so high and momentous as our worship of God and the Lamb? No doubt love works here and downwards by the same Spirit; but we, if rightly feeling cannot but own that God has the first and nearest claim.
And if this be so, will not His working be all the mightier and purer when we consider our relations to one another, to say nothing of the claim of compassionate love toward a perishing world? The apostle calls all who believe to be “likeminded.” Rivalry, self-seeking, liking to differ or even thwart, is not Christ, but of the first and fallen Adam. When the eye of faith rests on all, Himself and those He loves, there is no difficulty. Naturally we see others' faults and overlook our own; but this is the old man; it is the reverse of Christ, Who is our new life and Whom we are called to live. Members one of another, members of Christ, how unworthy not to be “like-minded?” If nature is opinionative, what does the one indwelling Spirit aim at and effect? If we live in Spirit, in Spirit also let us walk, not vain-glorious, provocative, or envious.
Being in such a scene of wretchedness as the world and with bodies not yet redeemed in which we groan, we are exhorted to be also “sympathetic.” Surely we may and ought to rejoice with those that rejoice, but far more frequent is the demand on our sharing the grief that abounds, and especially for righteousness or Christ's sake. It is our common portion as Christians to suffer with Him, even if we may not have the experience of suffering for Him. In any case sympathy in these holy sorrows is sweet and strengthening.
“Brother-loving” is a plain call, as belonging to the same family of God. Are we not to love them personally beyond our affection to our natural kin, as the bond is deeper and of divine nature and everlasting? Assuredly the enemy strives continually to bring in contention and misunderstanding, and every other means of hindrance; but the duty is as incontestable as the relation. How it is to be exercised depends on each case, for which we need the word and Spirit of God. For as John clearly shows, it is no mere human impulse and must not clash with the truth of God or with obedience.
“Tender-hearted” suitably follows. There is no worth in God's eyes if we love but in word or tongue, and not in deed and truth. We are to learn of Him who never relieved by power only, but His spirit entered into and bore up before God the infirmities and the diseases which He removed.
Nor is “humble-minded” the least though last in these qualities which the apostle sought to be in exercise. And where can we find its perfection but in the same Lord and Savior? Nor could the days of His flesh be recalled without the vivid and humiliating remembrance of the sad contrast even in the honored Twelve, so often and to the last disputing which of them should be accounted greatest. “I am meek and lowly in heart,” said He, and it was ever true. Man's ambition was wholly alien. “Ye shall not be so; but let the greater among you be as the younger, and the chief as he that serveth.”
Again the apostle charges the saints not to return evil for evil, or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary to bless, “because for this thing were ye called that ye might inherit blessing,” So marked is the contrast of the Christian with Israel when they undertook to earn blessing by keeping the law; as the apostle Paul set before the saints in Galatia, who had made the same sad mistake. “For as many as are of works of law are under curse” (Gal. 3:1010For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse: for it is written, Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them. (Galatians 3:10)): not as many as broke law, but as many as are pledged to that principle.
It is by grace alone, that we, Christians, are saved, or any can be; and it is through faith, not of works. Called also to an inheritance of glary, are we not witnesses of blessing? We know that one of our own poets expresses what nearly all felt as unbelievingly as himself: “Man never is, but always, to be blest.” Christianity is the standing proof that they knew not the truth. It was the less wonderful in A. Pope, as he never rose out of superstition and dead form even to apprehend the gospel of God's grace.
But grace gives the Christian to understand and make good the moral government God carries on with His children. The apostle in vers. 10-12 cites Psa. 34 for this even now; though Israel must await another day when their heart turns to Him whom they rejected in their unbelief. Evil and guile wholly misbecome the life of believers. If they dishonor their Lord like the Corinthians, they fall under His chastening; and this may take the shape of sickness and death. Nor is it only words that are warned against. He urges from that scripture that they should turn away from evil and do good, seek peace in practice, and this earnestly, because Jehovah's eyes are on the righteous, and His ears to their supplication, whereas His face is against evil-doers. Now the mind of the saint is as truly to please God, as the carnal mind is not nor can be. The believer is in living relationship with Christ, the duty follows, and the Holy Spirit works in power.