23rd November 2014

Inside out

When we come across difficulties in our workplace, do we act the same way everyone else does? Or is there something different about us? 1 Peter was written to help Christians hold on to the hope God has given them, even when they are facing suffering or persecution.

In chapter 3, we read Peter’s exhortation that we are called to live a life of blessing to those around us. Peter gives instructions that are really easy to say, but we will spend a lifetime perfecting: “…have unity of mind, sympathy, brotherly love, a tender heart, and a humble mind” (v8).

How do you do with sympathy? Do you have enough time in your busy lives to express sympathy to those around us?

Likewise, we all have one Father in heaven, so we are now family, which means we’re to have a brotherly love for one another. Loving the church isn’t about loving structures or meetings; it’s about loving the person sitting next to you and the person serving alongside you.

God has been compassionate to us, so we are to be tender-hearted. Compassion moves us to action. And God wants us to show something of His compassion to those around you.

We’re also called to humility – to thinking more highly of others than ourselves. These things are difficult! But God’s grace within us is powerful!

When our normal reaction is, “I am right, you are wrong!” we are to clothe ourselves with compassion. We’re not to react in anger; we are to bless! In verse 9 we are told that even when we’re cursed, we’re to bless back. We swim hard against the tide to live differently, as those who are part of God’s family and reflect Him to the world around us. We imitate the goodness God has shown to undeserving sinners.

How are your words? How’s your typing on Facebook? Do you keep your words from evil? There is a promise attached to this: “the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, and his ears are open to their prayer” (vv10-12).

God’s love for us is unconditional, but that doesn’t mean He doesn’t discipline us. We are totally accepted as we are, but He loves us too much to leave us that way. When we do good, we are blessed: “…even if you should suffer for righteousness’ sake, you will be blessed” (v14).

We don’t earn God’s favour or love, but there is a connection between righteous living and God’s blessing on our lives. Do you know that you are called to make a difference where you are and to be a blessing? It’s not by trying a bit harder; it’s because His power has given us everything we need for life and godliness (see 2 Peter 1:3).

Where is the most difficult place for you? Even there, God can give us grace and empower us by His Holy Spirit so that we see that place transformed.

God will often use the difficulties we go through and how we respond to cause others to ask us why we are different – why we don’t respond in the same way as other people. Peter tells us to be ready to give an answer for the hope that’s within us. Our good lives, empowered by God, provide a platform for witness in the same way that miracles do in other settings.

Christ suffered for us. He went through physical pain as His body was ripped apart. He went through emotional pain, wrestling with what was about to happen. Christ suffered and died for our sins. He is our great example of living a righteous life no matter what difficulties we face, because He had an eternal perspective.

To download the 'Inside out' sermon and life application questions, click here.

Paul Mann

Posted by Paul Mann










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