Summary: This summation section delineates how Christians ought to live so that they will be enabled to love the life they live. In order to love the life we live Peter gives us a pattern for Christian conduct. These graces of beauty & duty are the concern of eve
1 PETER 3: 8-12 [Renewing Hope Series]
CULTIVATING CHRISTIAN LOVE
In this summation section before us, the Bible delineates how Christians ought to live so that they will be enabled to love the life they live (v.10) (CIT). In order to love the life we live Peter gives us a pattern for Christian conduct. These graces of beauty and duty are to concern every Christian and be exercised by every Christian.
Love and its virtues are a recurring theme in Peter’s letters. Development of virtues enable us to inherit blessings and find life and peace. These virtues keep us useful and productive in our Christian walk, and they keep us in fellowship with God and His people. They open up to the life of blessing which God desires for us to enjoy.
I. INCREASING IN VIRTUE, 8.
II. INHERITING BLESSINGS, 9.
III. ENACTING LIFE, GOODNESS AND PEACE, 10-12.
Verse eight lists five selected virtues found in Christian love. “To sum up, all of you be harmonious, sympathetic, brotherly, kindhearted, and humble in spirit;”
Peter’s summation exhortations are for all the recipients of this letter. Thus everyone is warned to follow these instructions. When heeded these admonition form an ideal Christian and if demonstrated in the fellowship, an ideal church.
First, the church is to strive for harmony (ὁμος- together & φρήν -understand or understand together) by pursing the same goals. The Greek text is literally be like-minded with one another indicating a unity of mind. Unity does not mean total uniformity, it means cooperation in the midst of diversity. God has given His people a variety of gifts, talents, backgrounds, personalities, and differences of opinion will exist. Even thought opinions are different the members of the body are expected to work together in unity. Christians are to be govern by the purpose of Christ so that differences do not divide but rather enrich the church. Christians may differ on how things are done but they must agree on what is to be done and why.
A man criticized D.L. Moody about his methods of evangelism. Moody replied. “I’m always ready for improvement. What are your methods?” The man confessed that he did little evangelism. Moody said, “Then I’ll stick to my own.” Whatever methods we use we must seek to glorify Christ, win the lost, and build the church up in Christ Jesus. Some methods are not scriptural but there is plenty of room for variety in the church.
A second evidence of love is compassion, a genuine “feeling for and with” the needs of others, being responsive to the needs of others. Our English word sympathy (συμπαθες) comes from this word. We must have a mutual interest in both the joys and trials of other (Rom. 12:15).
On any given Sunday there are a number of people in our worship service who are hurting and who need our sympathy and compassion. The ministry of reaching out in love to those dear people needs to be a part of our worship experience. And, of course, it needs to be a vital part of our personal ministry within the body of Christ.
In my opinion, that is why SMALL GROUPS are so important within the life of a church family. They provide the atmosphere of love and trust which encourages the participants to share personal needs and to “bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ” (Gal. 6:2)
Then the command that we have a genuine love for the brethren (φιλάδελοι) is repeated (1:27). Christian love is seeing and treating each other as brothers and sisters. What ever differences we have the lack of love for one another should not be one (Jn. 13:34; 1 Thess. 3:12; 4:9; 2 Thess. 1:3; 1 Pet. 1:22, 2:17; 3:8, 4:8; 1 Jn. 3:23). If we love Jesus and are becoming one with Him, we will love the brethren.
The fourth virtue is tenderness of heart toward others. Tenderness of heart [eúsplanchnos] indicates being affectionately sensitive and caring toward others. In the cruel Roman world this was not seen as a virtue and it is easily robbed in our day. We are deluged with so much bad news that it is easy for us to become insulated and unfeeling. But our hearts need to be broken with the things that break the heart of our Lord. We need to cultivate a tender heart that can be moved by the suffering which another person endures.
The fifth virtue we are to cultivate is to be humble in spirit [ταπεινό - humble & φρήν -understand; understanding one’s falleness]. The humble person can put others ahead of him or her self. Humility is a virtue Jesus taught when He washed His disciples feet (Jn. 13:4-17). Jesus was willing to be the servant of all. Those believers with these five qualities assist the Church become what God intends it to be.