Summary: Christ has called us to treat others the way He treats us.

Ethical Living

Text: 1 Peter 3:8-12


1. A man without ethics is a wild beast loosed upon this world. Albert Camus

2. Ethics are the body of moral principles or values governing or distinctive of a particular culture or group.

3. To put it in relatable terms, Christian ethics deals with how we treat each other and those to whom we are called to minster.

4. Peter tells us about ethics...

a. Toward Those Inside The Church

b. Toward Those Outside The Church

c. Reason: God Is Watching

5. Read 1 Peter 3:8-12

Proposition: Christ has called us to treat others the way He treats us.

Transition: First, Peter tells us how we are to act...

I. Towards Those Inside The Church (8).

A. All Of You

1. In this section of Peter's letter he has talked about specific relationships.

a. People in authority

b. Our Boss

c. Our husbands

d. Our wives

2. Now he is going to talk on more generic terms. He is going to address those inside the church and those outside the church.

3. He says, "Finally, all of you should be of one mind. Sympathize with each other. Love each other as brothers and sisters. Be tenderhearted, and keep a humble attitude."

a. While the previous three sections were addressed to specific kinds of people (slaves, wives, husbands), this exhortation is for "all of you." the focus in these virtues is on how Christians demonstrate these virtues as they live with one another in a hostile world.

b. They must begin with "harmony" in both mind and spirit.

c. Be of one mind refers to working together for the common goal of spreading the gospel, having common attitudes and ideas. Just as different notes form chords to make beautiful harmonies, so different people can live and work together for God.

d. Sympathize with each other means being willing to share in others’ needs and being responsive to their feelings, having sensitivity and compassion toward others.

e. Loving one another means loving fellow Christians (brothers and sisters in Christ). The Greek word is philadelphos, referring not only to family love, but to the special love that should draw all Christians together.

f. This word’s meaning of “loving one’s brother or sister,” has been found on ancient gravestones (Bauer). It is a compound of phileō (5205), “to love,” and adelphos (79), “brother, near kinsman.” In 1 Peter 3:8 (its only usage in the New Testament) philadelphos conveys the idea of “loving as brethren.” (Gilbrant, ed., “5198. in The Complete Biblical Library Greek-English Dictionary – Sigma-Omega, (Springfield, MO: Complete Biblical Library, 1991).

g. To have tender hearts means to be conscious of others’ needs but includes a drive to alleviate the need in some way. Believers ought to be deeply touched and moved by the hurts, pain, needs, and joys of fellow believers and then act to help them. They should be affectionate and sensitive, quick to give emotional support.

h. To have humble minds means having an honest estimate of oneself before God. Humility does not negate one’s own worth or abilities, nor does it inflate them. Instead, a humble Christian can honestly view his or her characteristics and abilities with thankfulness to God. Humble people can encourage one another and rejoice in each other’s successes (Barton, Life Application New Testament Commentary, 1116).

B. Brothers And Sisters

1. Illustration: It was February 1941, Auschwitz, Poland. Maximilian Kolbe was a Franciscan priest put in the infamous death camp for helping Jews escape Nazi terrorism. Months went by and in desperation an escape took place. The camp rule was enforced. Ten people would be rounded up randomly and herded into a cell where they would die of starvation and exposure as a lesson against future escape attempts. Names were called. A Polish Jew Frandishek Gasovnachek was called. He cried, "Wait, I have a wife and children!" Kolbe stepped forward and said, "I will take his place." Kolbe was marched into the cell with nine others where he managed to live until August 14. This story was chronicled on an NBC news special several years ago. Gasovnachek, by this time 82, was shown telling this story while tears streamed down his cheeks. A mobile camera followed him around his little white house to a marble monument carefully tended with flowers. The inscription read: IN MEMORY OF MAXIMILIAN KOLBE HE DIED IN MY PLACE. Every day Gasovnachek lived since 1941, he lived with the knowledge, "I live because someone died for me." Every year on August 14 he travels to Auschwitz in memory of Kolbe. "Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends" (John 15:13).

2. As Christians we are to love our family of faith.

a. Romans 12:9-10 (NLT)

Don’t just pretend to love others. Really love them. Hate what is wrong. Hold tightly to what is good. 10 Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honoring each other.

b. We must never forget that we are family; God's family!

c. We must love one another deeply.

d. We must care for one another deeply.

e. We are to protect one another sincerely.

f. We are to respect one another continually.

g. We are the family of God!

Transition: Next Peter talks about how we are to act...

II. Towards Those Outside The Church (9).

A. Pay Them Back With Blessing

1. Now that Peter has addressed how we treat our brothers and sisters, he gives instruction on treating those outside the family of faith.

2. He says, "Don’t repay evil for evil. Don’t retaliate with insults when people insult you. Instead, pay them back with a blessing. That is what God has called you to do, and he will bless you for it."

a. Since it is difficult to imagine Peter thinking of Christians throwing hostile barbs at one another, we are probably justified in thinking he has here moved from "inter- Christian" ethics to "outsider" ethics—to how believers should relate to the hostile world in which they live.

b. Once again, Peter sees the Christian response to pressures from the outside world as one of passivity and grace, not aggressive retaliation.

c. Why? "Because to this is what God has called you to, and he will bless you for it."

d. Peter anchors their relationships to outsiders in their calling and promises them a "blessing."

e. While some have seen this blessing as the final state of salvation, others find here a promise for some kind of blessing in this life, perhaps a longer life or greater toleration for Christian faith.

f. In light of Peter's citation of Psalm 34, where the beginning emphasis is on "see[ing] good days" (3:10), he likely has in mind a prolonged life on this earth because of Christian goodness, in spite of persecution.

g. In line with his emphasis at 2:11-12, he imagines it will be a much better life for the churches if they are quiet, humble, and gentle, and if they refrain from retaliation and vindication.

h. One might dub this orientation as "optimistic," but it is a conclusion drawn by a victim of persecution who knows, from tough times, how life works (McKnight, 201).

i. The spiritual sense of the word refers to believers offering the gospel to those who persecute them.

j. This is what God wants them to do and he would bless them for it.

k. Believers still may be persecuted, but they can depend on God’s blessings, whether physical or spiritual (Barton 1116).

B. Show Them Jesus

1. Illustration: We give our different reports of the church in worship service attendance and Sunday school attendance and offerings and contacts made. Wouldn’t it be something if we had a measurement or a chart that would say this week we were up in abounding love. We have increased by seventy percent in love over last week. What if we could measure love? It would tell us so much, because that is the key.

2. Jesus has called us to love the world the way that he did.

a. John 3:16 (NLT)

For God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.

b. If Jesus loved the world outside the church so do we.

c. If Jesus was willing to give his life for the world so do we.

d. If we are going to call ourselves Christians, which means 'little Christ's," than we have to do what Jesus did.

Transition: Now Peter gives us the basis for our ethics...

III. Reason: God Is Watching (10-12)

A. The Eyes of the Lord

1. Here Peter borrows from the words of Psalm 34.

2. He says, "For the Scriptures say, “If you want to enjoy life and see many happy days, keep your tongue from speaking evil and your lips from telling lies."

a. The phrase, if you want to enjoy life and happy days, refers to people who trust God and who are (or want to be) enjoying their earthly lives no matter what the outward circumstances.

b. These people have found contentment in God and can live “good days” no matter how bad their situations might become.

c. The answer is found in living righteously, as suggested by both the psalmist and the apostle.

d. In order to do so, watch what you say. People who desire life and happy days keep their tongues from speaking evil and their lips from telling lies.

e. The word evil could refer to any type of speech that is displeasing to God; lies means to deliberately trick or mislead (Barton 1116-1117).

3. Peter then continues saying, "Turn away from evil and do good. Search for peace, and work to maintain it."

a. People’s words are connected to their actions. When believers turn away from evil, their God-honoring speech is then accompanied doing good.

b. To live in peace means more than simply the absence of conflict. Effective peacemakers must work hard at peace.

c. They build good relationships, knowing that peace is a by-product of commitment.

d. They anticipate problems and deal with them before they occur. When conflicts arise, peacemakers bring them into the open and deal with them before they grow unmanageable (Barton, 1117).

4. Now Peter brings his teaching on ethics to its point. He says, "The eyes of the Lord watch over those who do right, and his ears are open to their prayers. But the Lord turns his face against those who do evil.”

a. God will watch over those who do right. Nothing happens to God’s people that he has not allowed for some purpose.

b. Whatever happens, God’s people know that his promises of blessing—whether in this life or in the life to come—are certain.

c. Not only are the Lord’s eyes open and watching, but his ears are open to their prayers.

d. He listens when his people call to him. He knows all their needs. He hears their prayers in suffering.

e. These words would have been a great comfort to these suffering Christians.

f. Not only were they seen, heard, and ultimately protected, but those who hurt them would be judged.

g. Believers are not to retaliate; instead, they must trust that God will avenge the wrongs his people have suffered (Barton 1117).

B. What Does He See?

1. Illustration: I knelt to pray when day was done, And prayed, "Lord, bless everyone; Lift from each heart the pain, And let the sick be well again." And then I woke again one day, And carelessly went on my way; The whole day long I did not try To wipe a tear from any eye. I did not try to share the load Of any brother on the road; I did not even go to see the sick man just next door to me. Yet once again when every day was done, I prayed, "Lord, bless everyone." But as I prayed to my ear Came a voice that whispered dear, ’Pause, hypocrite, before you pray; Whom have you tried to bless today? God’s sweetest blessings always go, By hands that serve Him here below.’" And then I hid my face and cried, "Forgive me Lord, for I have lied; Let me but live another day, And I will live the way I pray." - Anonymous

2. Ethics are important because God sees all.

a. Proverbs 15:3 (NLT)

The LORD is watching everywhere, keeping his eye on both the evil and the good.

b. Not because we might get caught; because God is watching.

c. Not because it might ruin our reputation; because God is watching.

d. Not because it would embarrass us; because God is watching.

e. But simply because it is the right thing to do; because God is watching!


1. How ethical are you?

2. How ethical are you toward the church?

3. How ethical are you toward the unchurched?

4. Remember, God is watching.