Summary: Peter gives guidelines for relationships with Saints, Sinners & the Savior.
I Can Relate
Text: 1 Peter 3:8-22
I have different kinds of relationships with different people in my life--and that’s appropriate.
Proposition: In the same way as Christians we should relate diferently to different people.
Interrogative: This morning as we look at the last half of 1 Peter chapter 3 I’d like for us to ask ourselves "As a Christian How should I relate to those around me?"
Transition: Now, obviously there are many kinds of relationships that the bible gives us insight into: family relationships, Leader/Follower relationships, and many other kinds and this passage isn’t going to address each of those specifically, But I believe there’s some good basic instruction about some broad categories of relationships.
When I went to Primary Leadership Development Course at Grafenwoer in a previous life (as an enlisted soldier before I was a chaplain) , they taught us that there were certain things that an Non-Commissioned Officer should BE, KNOW & DO. As we look at three categories of relationships each of the three seems to focus on on of those. The first verse of our passage talks about how we should relate to...
1. The Saints
v. 8 Finally, all of you, live in harmony with one another; be sympathetic, love as brothers, be compassionate and humble.
The phrase "one another" in verse 8 makes it clear that the focus here is relationships within the church. Peter is writting to the church and so he is saying treat your fellow believers--treat "one another" in this way.
And notice that His spirit inspired instruction to the saints about how they shouldlive in harmony emphasizes not what they should do but what the should BE. Of course the way we are is in some sense a result of what we know and it of course it has consequences in what we do, but the emphasis here is what we should be. And what is that?
be sympathetic, - not that we should act sympathetic but really be sympathetic.
The apostle Paul put it this way in 1 Corinthians 12:25-26: there should be no division in the body, but its parts should have equal concern for each other. 26If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it.
In the body we should be sympathetic sharing our sorrows and triumphs.
love as brothers, Here the emphasis is that as believers we should consider one another family. Our love for one another should be strong and fierce and loyal.
be compassionate, Caring for our Brothers and sisters in Christ not because they deserve it but simply because we care--merciful as Christ is merciful, being kinder than they deserve, It’s a way of Being that brings us to doing--compassionate.
and finally be humble. Not thinking of ourselves as better than our brothers and sisters in Christ but as fellow sinners save by grace.
How should we be in our relationships with the saints? sympathetic, brotherly, compassionate and humble. And how can we be this way? Only as the Character of Christ shines through us by the Holy Spirit’s transforming power.
Next we turn our attention to relationships with
2. The Sinners
Here the emphasis goes from Being to Doing:
v. 9 Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult, but with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing.
While it’s possible that Peter is still refering to those "one another" relationships within the church here, I think it’s a shift to relations with those outside the church. Simply because one doesn’t expect evil and insult from fellow Christians.
Verses 9-12 which include a quote from Psalm 34 to illustrate the point are reminiscent of a theme in James. The theme is control of the tongue. James writes that if any man can control his tongue he is a perfect man--meaning that unless you’re sinless, controling the hurtful things we say is something we all struggle with.
Peter says that this is especially true in how we relate to those outside the church. We must be careful to watch our speech even though they are not careful in that way. We must strive to do what is right, no matter how we may be treated by them. He goes so far as to say this is what we were called to do so that we may receive God’s blessing. That’s not to say that we earn a blessing by our behavior but that our faith comes packaged with this calling to righteousness-doing what is right. Trusting In Christ, Doing Good and God’s blessing are all wrapped up together.
The point is also made that we need not fear sinners even if they mean to do us harm, even if we should suffer for doing good we still have God’s blessing, we don’t fear their threats, but we call Christ Lord.