Honorable Conduct

“Beloved, I beg you as sojourners and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts which war against the soul, having your conduct honorable among the Gentiles that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may, by your good works which they observe, glorify God in the day of visitation” (1 Peter 2:11,12).
A Bengali Christian lady told of the time when a neighbor asked her to keep a substantial sum of cash for him for a few days. He was to have company and did not trust the funds in his own home, but told her, “I know you will take care of my money; I can trust you. You are a Christian.”
Christianity is often criticized and persecuted as a system of faith. Other religions oppose our view of God, or of Christ, or of the Church. Non-believers ridicule all religion and faith as “ignorant superstition” or worse. Such abuse is common, has always happened, and we must expect it. We prepare logical answers to these challenges, and sometimes are able to persuade our opponents of the truth and reasonableness of Christian faith. However, there are many who will simply not listen to rational discussion, and others who will reject our arguments, and will not be convinced.
It is in such situations as these that Peter suggests another approach. He instructs Christians to live in such a way as to draw praise and honor, even from those who would reject our faith and doctrine. Those of other religions and philosophies may find our Gospel offensive, but genuine Christian character will always attract favorable notice. We are to be the best neighbors anyone ever had. Honesty, trustworthiness, hospitality, kindness, love, and generosity are only a few of the many positive traits that build a society and that are characteristic of the followers of Jesus (Galatians 5:22-25; 2 Peter 1:5-8). These traits should be our answer to the hostility of our opponents.
It is true that many of these virtues are not on the list of characteristics that those in the world aspire to for themselves. Pride, ambition, and power are much more sought after. But the Christian virtues are invariably those that we would desire for our neighbors to possess. It is these from which we benefit in others.
And this is the true heart of the Christian faith. It requires that we “deny ourselves” (Matthew 16:24) and seek the well-being of others (Philippians 2:4). This is unpopular, and we do not accept this principle easily. All of us are selfish to an extent and must learn self-denial with great effort. But this is the path to genuine victory in Christ. Jesus taught, “For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it” (Matthew 16:25). In this context, the loss of life is occasioned by self-denial; it is not the death of the martyr so much as it is the surrender of personal ambition and pride in order to serve others.
Peter maintains that such honorable conduct in the real world of the unbeliever will inevitably bring glory to God. When people see how Christians live, and when they see the benefits brought to our societies, they must praise God for such lives. Elsewhere he shows that a Christian wife’s faithful conduct may lead to the conversion of her husband, even if he would not be persuaded by preaching (1 Peter 3:1).
Christian living has a practical importance that goes far beyond simple obedience to law or rule. First, it benefits the believer. His life is blessed by the wisdom given in the instructions of Jesus. Secondly, it benefits society. The generosity, kindness, and honesty of Christians is of value to any culture and any place. Finally, such lives glorify God. His name is honored. Faith in him is increased. And additional souls will be saved.

One thought on “Honorable Conduct

  1. I have just finished reading the articles on The Gospel and Honorable Conduct. I must commend you for a wonderful presentation of words and Scriptures that are easy for anyone to understand. May God continue to bless you as you work to increase His Kingdom!

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