A. What do you think of when I say “The Good Life?”
1. Did you know that "The Good Life" is a state slogan for the state of Nebraska?
2. “The Good Life” is a philosophical phrase for the life that one would like to live.
3. You might be surprised to know that the phrase is originally associated with Aristotle.
4. There have been songs and movies and Television Shows by that title.
5. I notice that Chuck Colson has a book by that title published in 2005.
B. What really is “The Good Life”?
1. For some it conjures up a life of ease…fishing, swinging, playing golf, or reading a book.
2. For others it conjures up a life of expense…luxury yachts…Caribbean beaches…mountain top chalets…hot tubs and spas and servants.
3. For still others it conjures up images of extreme living…bungee jumping, snowboarding out of helicopters, or wild parties.
C. The Declaration of Independence contains the well-known phrase “Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness,” which its author Thomas Jefferson listed as among the “unalienable rights” God gave to people.
1. For many people in today’s postmodern society, pursuit of that Jeffersonian ideal means primarily chasing after objects of self-gratification such as money, houses, cars, vacations, the best seats at sporting and entertainment events, and health and fitness.
2. Sometimes this pursuit includes the baser aspects of hedonistic living, such as promiscuous sex, frequent alcohol consumption, and the unfettered use of so-called recreational drugs (like marijuana, crack cocaine, and ecstasy).
3. The sad reality is that such things are merely a temporary rush that falls far short of the genuine good life that really satisfies.
D. One of the most notorious 20th century personifications of the hedonistic life was the famed novelist Ernest Hemingway.
1. He’s the author of noted literary works like A Farewell to Arms, and The Old Man and the Sea.
2. He had little regard for the teachings of the Bible or traditional systems of morality.
3. He pursued the “good life” with a vengeance.
4. His literary talent brought him fame and finances enough to allow him to seek pleasure all over the world.
5. However, none of it gave Hemingway any lasting and genuine satisfaction.
6. His life tragically ended with suicide in 1961.
E. Even the pages of Scripture contain examples of individuals who pursued the “good life” in all the wrong places.
1. The best worst example may be Solomon the 3rd king of Israel.
2. He had it all: power, wealth, fame, and over a thousand beautiful women.
3. At one point he wrote, “So I hated life; for the work which had been done under the sun was grievous to me; because everything is futility and striving after wind.” (Eccl. 2:17)
4. Solomon came to realize that the good life was not found in great accomplishments or much education; it was not found in pleasure or material possessions.
5. Rather, he concluded his book with these words: “Now all has been heard; here is the conclusion of the matter: Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the duty of all mankind.” (Eccl. 12:13)
F. So as we return to 1 Peter, we see Peter addressing this subject in the middle of this letter.
1. We see that Peter recognized that believers are not exempt from serious and varied difficulties that can potentially rob them of life and joy.
2. But still, in spite of the struggles and suffering, Peter shares how a believer can live and love the good life.
3. Let’s spend some time looking at these five verses in order to learn something about how to love life and see good days even in the midst of present and challenging difficulties.
I. Treat Others Rightly
A. Peter began this section: 8 Finally, all of you, be like-minded, be sympathetic, love one another, be compassionate and humble. 9 Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult. On the contrary, repay evil with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing.
1. Did you notice that Peter began with the word “finally”?
2. This “finally” doesn’t signal the end of the letter, but the conclusion of the current section.
3. Peter began this section of the letter back in chapter two, and he has been addressing a Christian’s conduct in an ungodly and hostile world.
4. After addressing relationships with civil authorities, workplace relationships, and relationships in the home, now Peter addresses how to generally treat others in a right way.
B. As Peter listed these things that enhance our relationships, he began with the command to be like-minded.
1. The word literally means “same think.”
2. In order to live in harmony with others, we must begin with a common commitment to God’s truth that leads to a unity in thought.
3. Certainly the mind we want to have is the mind of Christ.
4. We should want to think like He thought, and when we do, we experience a greater harmony with God’s people.
C. The next thing that Peter suggested was that we should be sympathetic.
1. This is similar to the command to be compassionate that is mentioned later in the verse.
2. To be sympathetic means to feel for and with others.
3. To be compassionate includes a sense of mercy and understanding toward others.
4. We not only feel with them, but we give them the benefit of the doubt and try to compensate for them.
D. In this list of how to treat others right, Peter also included that we should love one another.
1. Peter used the Greek word philadelphoi which is the word for brotherly love.
2. This is friendship kind of love that has to do with close relationships.
E. Last on Peter’s list is humility.
1. There is no place for arrogance and pride in our relationships.
2. If we don’t have the right kind of humility, we will struggle to be sympathetic and compassionate.
3. Our sense of humility should come from our relationship with God which should definitely keep us humble.
4. I like the saying: “The ground is level at the foot of the cross.”
5. We are all equal to each other in relation to God.
F. After Peter’s short list, he also made clear the need that we must not seek revenge or retaliation.
1. That includes actions and words.
2. When others harm us with insults or evil actions, we must not do the same in return.
3. Rather, with God’s help we must repay evil with blessing.
4. Peter has already pointed out, back in 2:23, that Jesus is our great example of this.
5. Just like with Jesus, God will reward us with blessing, if we will treat others rightly, even when they have treated us wrongly.
G. So, in order to experience the good life, we must learn to treat others rightly.
II. Guard Your Tongue
A. Peter continued: 10 For, “Whoever would love life and see good days must keep their tongue from evil and their lips from deceitful speech.”
1. Many of the problems of life are caused by the wrong words, spoken in the wrong spirit.
2. Every one of us should read James 3 regularly, because James had some powerful and helpful things to say about the tongue.
3. Psalm 141:3 would be a good verse for us to memorize: “Set a guard over my mouth, LORD; keep watch over the door of my lips.”
B. So what do you think it means to keep our tongues from evil?
1. Certainly it means that we should not let any unwholesome and ungodly speech come out of our mouths.
a. As you know, people’s language has become atrocious – that includes people in high places, like presidents and teachers; and that includes young people and children.
b. This must never be the case for those of us who love the Lord.
2. It also means we should not allow our tongues to be used to harm others and tear them down.
3. Also Peter mentioned that we should not have deceitful speech on our lips.
4. We should tell the truth. All lies should be far from us.
5. When we open our mouths and allow our tongues to speak, what comes out should be filled with grace and goodness.
6. And when we tell someone something, they should be able to take us at our word.
C. If we keep our tongues from evil then we will be loving life and we will see good days.
III. Turn from Evil and Do Good
A. Peter continued: “They must turn from evil and do good.” (vs. 11)
1. That which is good and virtuous is the opposite of what is evil.
2. We must have nothing to do with that which is evil and everything to do with that which is good.
3. This is so foreign to the contemporary notion of the “good life” as “doing one’s own thing.”
4. For a long time the motto has been “if it feels good, do it.”
5. But that is often at the expense of what is really “good” and what is really “God’s will.”
B. We live in a time when so much that is evil has become so accepted.
1. We have become desensitized to all kinds of evil.
2. Beware of the filth that calls itself entertainment – Music, Television, Movies, Internet Websites – all promoting evil, ungodly life-styles.
3. People living together before marriage and outside of marriage is no longer taboo.
a. Over 12 million unmarried partners live together (U.S. Census Bureau. “American Community Survey: 2005-2007.”)
b. The number of cohabiting unmarried partners increased tenfold between 1960 and 2000. – (U.S. Census Bureau. “America’s Families and Living Arrangements: 2000.” )
c. The number of cohabiting unmarried partners increased by 88% between 1990 and 2007. – (U.S. Census Bureau. “America’s Families and Living Arrangements: 2007.” )
d. 55% of cohabiters do marry within five years of moving in together. 40% break up within that same time period. About 10% remain in an unmarried relationship for five years or more. ( Smock, Pamela. 2000. "Cohabitation in the United States." Annual Review of Sociology. )
4. Having babies out of wedlock is no longer taboo.
a. About 1.7 million babies were born to unmarried women in 2007, a 26 percent rise from 1.4 million in 2002 and more than double the number in 1980.
b. Unmarried women accounted for 40 percent of all U.S. births in 2007 -- up from 34 percent in 2002 and more than double the percentage in 1980.
6. Same sex couples and marriage is becoming more and more accepted.
7. Think of the way that greed and selfishness has taken over – drunkenness, drug abuse, gluttony.
8. Look at the way that lotteries and gambling is on the increase.
9. These are all evils of our time.
C. There seems to be no end to the evil that is being reclassified as good and acceptable.
1. There was a time when all the things that I just mentioned were considered evil and people and society in general attempted to avoid them and control them.
2. God has given us His commands and they are good.
3. If we want to live the “good life,” then we must turn away from evil and do good.
IV. Finally, Seek Peace and Pursue It
A. Peter’s final command is: “…they must seek peace and pursue it.”
1. The verbs translated “seek peace and pursue it” both convey an intensity and aggressiveness of action.
2. Implicit in the phrase is the analogy of the hunter vigorously tracking down his prey.
3. We are to seek peace and hunt for it aggressively – even peace with our enemies and persecutors.
4. Christians are to be known in the world as peacemakers.
5. Jesus said, “Blessed are the peacemakers: for they will be called children of God.” (Mt. 5:9)
B. Our youth rally last year was on this topic.
1. The verse we focused on was from James 3:18, “Peacemakers who sow in peace raise a harvest of righteousness.”
2. I like what Paul wrote about peace in Romans 12:18, “If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.”
3. Peace begins with you and me.
C. What difference would it make in our homes if we were to seek peace and pursue it?
1. What difference would it make in our schools or neighborhoods if we were to seek peace and pursue it?
2. What difference would it make in our church family if we were to seek peace and pursue it?
a. Paul spent a couple of chapters in the book of Romans addressing the need for congregational peace.
b. Let me point one important verse that summarizes that section: “Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification.” (Rom. 14:19)
D. Peace is not something we can generate on our own.
1. We first of all must be at peace with God through Jesus.
a. Romans 5:1 says, “Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ…”
2. Once we have peace with God then we can allow the Spirit to work in us to produce the fruit of the Spirit, which includes peace.
a. Galatians 5:22, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.”
E. If we want to experience the “good life” then we must seek peace and pursue it.
A. Let’s look at the last verse from our Scripture section for today: 12 For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous and his ears are attentive to their prayer, but the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.
1. Peter helps us to see what it is that ought to motivate us to live the good life that pleases God.
2. We are reminded that God is the sovereign God who sees all and knows all. He’s a God who holds people accountable for their behavior.
3. But for Peter, the primary issue here is not judgment but God’s gracious care for His people.
B. The Lord’s eyes are on the righteous and His ears are attentive to their prayers – How wonderful is that!
1. It is God’s children who are being watched and listened for.
2. God knows what is going on in our lives, and He is ready to supply all that we need.
3. God is so pleased with us when we live the good life and He supplies all that we need to be faithful to Him.
C. Race car driver Bill Vukovich won the famed Indianapolis 500 race in 1953 and 1954, a record of success few other drivers have matched.
1. He was asked the secret of his success and he replied, “There’s no secret. You just press the accelerator to the floor and steer left.”
2. We all know there’s a little more to it than that.
3. I wish living the good life was that simple and easy.
D. So what are the secrets to living “the good life?” Let’s review the helpful suggestions given by Peter:
1. Treat Others Rightly
2. Guard Your Tongue
3. Turn From Evil and Do Good
4. Seek Peace and Pursue It
E. I want to encourage you to look over the list and decide to begin working on at least one of those areas listed.
1. Ask God to help you improve in that area.
2. May God bless us and enable us to love and live the good life!
The MacArthur New Testament Commentary, 1 Peter, by John MacArthur, Moody Publishing, 2004
The Bible Exposition Commentary, 1 Peter, by Warren Wiersbe, Victor Books, 1989
The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, 1 Peter, by Edwin A. Blum, Zondervan, 1981