1 Peter 2:11-12, 3:1-2 - Walking Billboards
Both the eyes of the Lord and the world are on you. What will they see?
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Read 1 Peter 2:11-12, 3:1-2
11 Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul. 12 Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation.
3:1-2 Likewise, wives, be subject to your own husbands, so that even if some do not obey the word, they may be won without a word by the conduct of their wives, when they see your respectful and pure conduct.
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Heidelberg Catechism Q&A 86
Q. We have been delivered
from our misery
by God’s grace alone
and not because we
have earned it:
why then must we still do good?
A. To be sure, Christ has redeemed us
by his blood.
But we do good because
Christ by his Spirit is also
to be like himself,
so that in all our living
we may show that
we are thankful to God
for all he has done for us,
and so that he may be praised through us.
And we do good
so that we may be assured of
our faith by its fruits,
and so that by our godly living
our neighbors may be won over to Christ.
In each of today’s passages, Peter urges readers to live in such a way as to win over their peers for Christ. In chapter 2, he references how others were speaking of the recipients of this letter as evildoers. Living as spiritual exiles in this world, the Christian way of life did not line up with the norms of the day. During the time this letter was written, charges against Christians included such things as disloyalty to the emperor, propagation of unlawful customs, defamation of the (pagan) gods, and general trouble making. The beliefs and actions of early Christians drew the attention of those around them. Peter’s encouragement was to abstain from passions of the flesh so that others may see their deeds and glorify God.
In the beginning of chapter 3, Peter is understood to be speaking to the Christian women in these congregations who were married to non-Christian husbands. These women faced a challenging dilemma because in Roman culture a wife was expected to adopt the religion of their husband. Peter’s direction for these women was to conduct themselves in such a way that the Gospel may be presented in the best possible light. The mention of winning them over “without a word” is not a prohibition on speaking of their faith but more of an encouragement to follow the submissive demeanor expected of their culture while being sensitive to the concerns of their unbelieving husbands in order that their gentle approach would open an avenue to share their faith.
You catch more flies with honey than vinegar. It’s a common saying you may have heard before. The message of this saying is that it is easier to persuade someone if you have a positive attitude than if you approached them with rude or forceful demands.
This idea is seen in both of today’s passages from 1 Peter. Whether it was followers of Jesus living in a predominant pagan society or the 1st century wives of unbelieving husbands in the Roman Empire, Peter’s emphasis on kindness remains the same.
Following Peter’s directions would have brought about all kinds of challenges. Whether it was facing unwarranted allegations of wrongdoing or remaining devoted to Christ within a system that challenged your faith; presenting the Gospel in the best possible light takes sacrifice.
It is not easy to be kind to those who oppress or scorn you. The natural desire is to want to lash out or get even. When someone makes your life difficult, before you retaliate, remember the encouragement of Peter. Keep your conduct honorable and respectful, for in this they may see your good deeds and give glory to God. After all, you will catch more flies with honey than vinegar.
ACKNOWLEDGE WHO GOD IS: 1 Peter 3:12 - For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, and his ears are open to their prayer;
ALIGN YOUR LIFE WITH GOD'S WILL: Pray that the Holy Spirit will strengthen you to be able to keep your conduct honorable, that others may see your good deeds and glorify God;
ASK GOD FOR WHAT YOU NEED:
Read the New Testament in a year, a chapter a day - 1 Corinthians 8