Summary: There is a temptation to protect ourselves against vicious people by stooping to their level. But there are serious reasons why we shouldn’t do that. Do you know what they are?
OPEN: Little Johnny was walking down the beach, and he spied a matronly woman sitting under a beach umbrella on the sand. He walked up to her and asked, "Are you a Christian?"
"Yes." she replied.
"Do you read your Bible every day?"
She nodded her head, "Yes."
"Do you pray often?" Little Johnny asked next, and again she answered, "Yes."
With that he asked his final question, "Will you hold my quarter while I go swimming?"
APPLY: That little boy believed that a ONLY a woman who was a Christian would be trustworthy. He wasn’t willing to entrust his quartet with anyone else. Why would that boy believe that? Perhaps it was because that’s what he’d been taught… or because that was what he had observed.
I. In I Peter 3:16, we find Peter telling us that we need to be sure that this what the world needs to see and needs to believe about us.
Look again with me at verses 15 & 16:
“But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience…” (WHY???) “…so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander.” (1 Peter 3:15-16)
In other words, we should live our lives in such a way that even wicked men will know they can trust us with their quarters.
How do I know what kind of life I should live? Well, Peter gives us a whole laundry list of the behavior that we need to exhibit:
* Live in harmony with each other (vs. 8)
* Be sympathetic (vs. 8)
* Love as brothers (vs. 8)
* Be compassionate (vs. 8)
* Be humble (vs. 8)
* Don’t repay insults with insults but with blessing (vs. 9)
* Turn from evil and do good (vs. 11)
* Always be prepared with an answer for the reason you live as you do (vs. 16)
ILLUS: A man by the name of William Willimon remembered that back in high school, every Friday and Saturday night, as he was leaving home to go on a date, I remember my mother bidding me farewell at the front door with these weighty words, “Don’t forget who your are.”
You know what she meant.
She did not mean that I was in danger of forgetting my name and my street address.
She meant that, alone on a date, in the midst of some party, in the presence of some strangers, I might forget who I was. I might lose sight of the values with which I had been raised, answer to some alien name, engage in some unaccustomed behavior.
“Don’t forget who you are”.
That’s what Peter is telling us in this letter. Peter’s telling us “Don’t forget who you are”.
II. Well… who ARE we???
ILLUS: Back when I was a little boy, my dad owned a 20 acre trailer park with 100 permanent trailers and a summer trade of camper trailers on a nice fishing lake. And – of course – there were families in the park that had little kids my own age. When I was about 11 years old, my dad would take me aside and carefully instruct me that I should remember that I was the son of the owner.
Now, he wasn’t telling me that to instill pride or arrogance in me. Dad hated that. In fact, once I bragged to dad “I’m proud to be a Strite!” He looked steadily at me and asked “what did you ever do about that?”
So dad wasn’t tring to instill pride in me when he reminded me that I was the son of the owner. He was telling me that how I behaved reflected back on him. If I behaved badly, or I was a bully, or I mistreated any of the other children that would reflect badly on him… and on the trailer park itself. So, I was called to a higher standard!
What Peter is telling us here in this 3rd chapter is “Be careful how you live because you belong to Jesus and how you behave out in the world can reflects badly on Jesus. You are called to higher standard, because you belong to God!
LOOK WITH ME at I Peter 3:18-22
“For Christ died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God. He was put to death in the body but made alive by the Spirit, through whom also he went and preached to the spirits in prison who disobeyed long ago when God waited patiently in the days of Noah while the ark was being built. In it only a few people, eight in all, were saved through water, and this water symbolizes baptism that now saves you also— not the removal of dirt from the body but the pledge of a good conscience toward God. It saves you by the resurrection of Jesus Christ, who has gone into heaven and is at God’s right hand— with angels, authorities and powers in submission to him.”