Summary: The Apostle Peter commands us to “live in harmony” with the people around us which means we are sympathetic, loving, compassionate, and humble when we want to be and especially when we don’t want to be and the people we deal with don’t deserve it.
The passage that we are going to read today has at minimum about 10 different sermons in it. This morning I am going to preach all ten sermons to you so get comfortable! I locked the doors and ordered in lunch. The passage is rich with meaning and with commands from the Apostle Peter to us:
Live in harmony Be humble Set Christ as Lord Keep a clear conscience
Be sympathetic Repay with blessings Be prepared
Love Keep away from evil Be gentle
Be compassionate Seek peace Be respectful
That is a whole lot in one passage! That is a whole lot to think on and pray over and make a part of our lives if we want to be serious about the Apostle’s teaching as the first century church was. Preaching 10 sermons in one morning would not be helpful, but we are still going to dive into this passage and see what God has for us. I want to admit to you right away that I do not like this sermon one bit. This is one of those sermons that as I am preaching to you… I wish I was sitting in the pew listening because each and every single point, every passage, and every application applies directly into my own life. I have looked into the mirror and I know exactly who I am and exactly how I sometimes react to the people around me. I guess I am asking that you do that with me this morning… look into the mirror and look on yourself with honesty. I am and it hurts.
Let’s read this morning from this challenging passage and as we read, we are going to get caught up in verse 8 which is the first verse we read:
READ 1 Peter 3:8
“Finally, all of you, live in harmony with one another; be sympathetic, love as brothers, be compassionate and humble.”
I. HARMONY (VERSE 8)
As I was reading this passage over and over, I noticed so much in verse 8. The Apostle Peter tells us first thing in this passage that we are to live in harmony with others around us. I have to tell you that personally I do not always find that easy to do. In walking through this life, we sometimes struggle on doing the right thing, feeling the right way, or having the right attitude when confronted with other people.
When someone lies to us or about us, that makes us angry.
When someone lies about us, we feel the need to set the record straight immediately with everyone we know.
When someone mishandles their money on purpose and then wants help, we are less inclined to help.
When someone insults our husband, wife, or children, we distance ourselves from them.
When someone causes division in a church body, we feel they need to go to protect the rest of the people.
When someone is rude to us, we often get rude right back.
When someone is mad at us, we often get mad right back.
When a good person suffers, we sometimes wonder why and wonder about God’s plan.
When a bad person suffers, we sometimes feel justice is done.
When someone is completely inconsistent in their faith, we want to judge them and distance ourselves.
If any of those things I just said describe you then I do not think you are alone. Many times when we are faced with difficult people, we respond in like attitudes and actions because that is what they deserve. Those things are exactly why the Apostle Peter is writing this passage. Those attitudes and reactions are normal human reactions that most people will experience.
We need to understand that God through Jesus Christ calls us to be more than normal.
We need to understand that God through Jesus Christ calls us to be a holy priesthood building a spiritual house.
We need to understand that God through Jesus Christ calls us to be a people who belong to Him.
We need to understand that God through Jesus Christ calls us to have an authentic relationship with Him where we take His teachings serious and we toss out normal when God says we need to be more or different.
In verse 8, God commands us to “live in harmony with one another.” What does that mean exactly? Fortunately for us, the rest of that verse breaks into four phrases which explain the harmony we are to have with the people around us.
First, “be sympathetic.” Another way of saying “sympathetic” is “accompanying in sufferings.” Sympathy means that you try your best to walk along side someone when they are suffering. I have always thought sympathy includes empathy which is sharing the feelings of someone as well. The Apostle Peter is commanding us that when in a conflict or uncomfortable situation with someone, we are to put ourselves in their place and work towards harmony with them. The idea is that if we can put ourselves in their “shoes” that we might understand them better.