1 Peterby David Burge
In political, business, military, sporting, and many other spheres, pressure can have fascinating effects. In winning teams, pressure brings players closer together as they work harder for each other. In losing teams, pressure exposes disunity and magnifies little strains until the team becomes its own worst enemy.
Peter is writing to Christians who are facing all kinds of pressure in their lives for Christ. Here, he begins 1 Peter 3:8 with the word ″finally″. Having addressed the way Christians are to live under government authorities (2:13-17), human masters (2:18-25), and within marriage (3:1-7), he has a final general appeal to whole churches (″all of you″, 3:8) about how we are to stick together, especially when under pressure.
We are to have what we might call meekness traits: ″be like-minded, be sympathetic, love one another, be compassionate and humble″ (v. 8). Here are some possible symptoms that arise when we lack these traits: finding pleasure in controversy and disputes; showing little interest in the feelings and hardships of others; being known as a driven person because of your commitment to personal ambitions; preferring to talk and give advice in a conversation, rather than to listen or to ask for advice. Do any of these describe you?
As a Christian community, the traits in verse 8 are to be modelled and nurtured by pastors and leaders as we make disciples of Jesus.
We are to be like Jesus towards one another. When we enjoy strong fellowship among Christians, we will be in a stronger position to face the outside pressures of insults and evil (v. 9), and to bless those who mistreat us. When we follow God's way, we inherit a blessing (v. 9). Under God, the future is bleak for those who do evil, but His eternal prosperity comes to those who trust and follow Him.
Peter urges us to imitate Christ, using the words of Psalm 34, in the areas of speech (1 Peter 3:10), doing good (v. 11), pursuing peace (v. 11), and living prayerful lives (v. 12).
The citation of Psalm 34 reminds us that this is not a new challenge. To be God's loyal children has never been easy, but it has always been, and forever will be, the path of ultimate blessing.
When you hear Peter's words, ″be like-minded, be sympathetic, love one another, be compassionate and humble″ (1 Peter 3:8), which trait do you find easiest, and which do you find hardest? Why?
God's Spirit helps us to grow in these areas. How will you cooperate with the Spirit in pursuing these changes today?