Does it appear to you that the lives of some people resemble a stainless steel pinball reacting to its environment?
Consider the wife who responds to her husband’s inconsiderate actions with a stinging terse remark. Or the employee’s heart brimming over with vengeance because he suffered an injustice. Then there is that person whose mind is filled with thoughts of payback, “she does not deserve my forgiveness.” And in yet another place someone’s betrayed secret becomes a catalyst for bitter words to gush forth.
This list could easily go on and on. But there is another way for people to live their lives, a pathway whose foundation and guidelines are shaped by God.
The letter of First Peter was written to those who had left behind the ragged lifestyle of being ignorantly driven through fleshly lusts characterized by a lifestyle based upon futility.1 But something wonderful had happened. Through the work of the Holy Spirit and the power of Christ’s blood, they had been given a new start as a purified people belonging to God.2
Along with this new life which they had received came not only a new foundation for looking forward to the future (3) but also the responsibility to adopt a new manner for how they would respond to their surroundings.4 No longer were they to merely react. Nor were they to limit doing good to those whom they considered worthy of recieving it. Since God had taken them to be his people, now it had become their responsibility to live in the world (as unjust and hostile as it might be) based upon who they had become as God’s people. When others served up injustice, insult and hostility, they were to respond with blessing.5
Even though some of their masters were cruel and undeserving of respect, they were to submit to them.6 Although some of them might have had spouses who were unbelievers, they were to treat them with the graciousness which comes from God, not because their spouses deserved it but because they had been called to this as God’s people.7
The letter of 1 Peter is as relevant today as it was then. The stamp of God’s holiness is to be imprinted upon our behavior, words and attitudes regardless of how others have treated us. As those who now belong to God, we have the responsibility to treat others based upon who we have become as God’s children. We can no longer simply react to our situation or decide whether someone is worthy of a loving response.
As obedient children, do not be conformed to the former lusts which were yours in your ignorance, but like the Holy One who called you, be holy yourselves also in all your behavior; because it is written, ‘You shall be be holy, for I am holy.’
1 Peter 1:14-15 NASB
1 1 Peter 1:14, 18
2 1 Peter 1:2-3, 22-23; 2:9-10
3 1 Peter 1:3-5
4 In 1 Peter, the message repeatedly moves from the salvation accompanying new birth (1 Peter 1:2-13; 1:22-25; 2:9-10) toward how those who have been born again should live (1 Peter 1:14f; 2:1f., 2:11f).
5 1 Peter 3:8-12
6 1 Peter 2:18
7 1 Peter 3:1-7