Saturday, March 1, 2008

Monday Morning Devotions

IPet. 3:8-9 "Finally, all of you be of one mind, having compassion for one another; love as brothers, be tenderhearted, be courteous, not returning evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary blessing, knowing that you are called to this, that you may inherit a blessing."

Both Peter and Paul command us to be "of one mind." Today we will examine how Peter describes this mandatory state of mind; next week Paul's exhortation in Romans twelve will be examined.

Peter is reminding his readers that Christ's disciples must be of one mind on this point: all disciples must truly love one another. When a brother or sister in Christ causes offense, the offended one does not lash out, does not retaliate. Not against the brethren, not against those among Christ's enemies. The same applies to the Church today. If you or I are wronged, we are to bless those who do us wrong. (IPet 3:9) Why? Peter answers this question by quoting Ps. 34: 12-16. He who would live a long life shall keep his tongue from speaking evil; he will repay evil with good. This is the kind of life we are called to, that we may inherit a blessing. This psalm further informs us that God hears the prayer of those who obey on this point; these obedient ones are declared righteous. The psalm warns that God is against those who refuse to practice these things.

Practicing non-retaliation against our accusers is not easy. Peter tells us two things we can do to make the love of enemies a way of life. First, sanctify the Lord God in your hearts ("But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord", NIV) and be ready to give defense for the hope that is in you. Can you somewhere, sometime, give defense of the hope that is in you unless you have already stepped out in faith? Your past experiences of God's deliverance allows you to have peace of heart when facing persecution. Instead of cursing, you will have cause to praise God before God's enemies who persecute you. (IPet. 3:13-15)

Just what are the results when we refuse to return evil for evil? Our persecutors see our good conduct "in Christ" and experience shame. When they see Christ in us, it is as if they look into a mirror and see themselves, and what they see produces this experience of shame. (IPet. 3:16)

It is only fitting that we act in this manner towards our persecutors. Christ died for our sins on the Cross. As He hung on the Cross, He did not revile His persecutors, but said "Father, forgive them, they know not what they do." He prayed this so that ALL men and women may experience the Father's forgiveness. Those of us who suffer at the hands of others on account of our faith in Jesus must likewise practice forgiveness publicly so that we may help bring our persecutors to a state of repentance and forgiveness of sins. (IPet 3: 18-22)

(Unless otherwise indicated, all scripture quotations are from the NKJV.)

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