You Have Been Called by God to Inherit a Blessing. Therefore, Be a Blessing to Others!
O Lord God, my dear heavenly Father, I come before You today confessing that all too often I fail to represent You properly as Your child and heir in this life. Often my thoughts are impure, my words unkind, and my actions unloving. Please forgive my many sins and create within my heart a renewed desire each day to serve You. Send Your Spirit to live within me, so that my thoughts reflect Your will, my words Your kindness, and my actions Your love. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.
God called Abraham to faith and then instructed him to leave behind his country, his family, and his father’s house. He was to go to a land God would show him—there to be blessed by God and to be a blessing to all the families of the earth!
Peter, Andrew, James, and John were called to be four of Jesus’ disciples after Jesus performed a miracle of a large draught of fish. Peter’s reaction to the miracle was to protest his sinful unworthiness, but Jesus calls us all to follow Him with complete devotion.
Text: 1 Peter 3:8-12
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 were called to this, that you may inherit a blessing. For “He who would love life and see good days, let him refrain his tongue from evil, and his lips from speaking deceit. Let him turn away from evil and do good; let him seek peace and pursue it. For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, and His ears are open to their prayers; but the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.”
In Christ Jesus, who calls us into His kingdom for a purpose, dear fellow redeemed:
I would like to ask you a question: Does God love you, because you strive to be good; or do you strive to be good, because God loves you? Let me repeat that once again: Does God love you, because you strive to be good; or do you strive to be good, because God loves you? That may sound a bit confusing, since the question simply reverses the order of the words, but the thoughts expressed are very different and reveal a very important distinction between God’s law and His gospel and their application in our lives. If God loves you, because you strive to be good, then you are laboring under the law—you must do something to deserve or merit God’s love. On the other hand, if you strive to be good because God loves you, then you are living your life motivated by the gospel, which informs you that God loves you even though you are a sinner. The first sets a condition on God’s love—you must strive to be good, or God will not love you; while the second assumes God’s grace—His undeserved and unconditional love for you in spite of sin, to which you and I will want to respond by striving to be good.
Our text today taken from 1 Peter is predominately law. It speaks to what we are to do in our minds, with our lips, and through our hands. Yet, at the very heart of this text is a gospel proclamation, which is intended to motivate our desire to fulfill the law. Peter tells us: “You were called to this, that you may inherit a blessing.” God’s call is an appeal to us sinners to come to Him with repentant hearts and to receive the blessings of forgiveness, life, and salvation as free gifts of His grace. Jesus cries out, “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Mt. 11:28). Paul explains the nature of that gospel call so clearly, when he writes: “God, who is rich is mercy, because of the great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ…. For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast” (Eph. 2:4-5, 8-9). Peter earlier expressed an appropriate response to this call: “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, who are kept by the power of God through faith for salvation ready to be revealed in the last time” (1 Pet. 1:3-5). Peter clearly tells us in our text: YOU HAVE BEEN CALLED BY GOD TO INHERIT A BLESSING! THEREFORE, BE A BLESSING TO OTHERS with your thoughts, with your words, and with your actions!
Peter begins our text by saying: “Finally, all of you be of one mind, having compassion for one another; love as brothers, be tenderhearted, be courteous.” Peter mentions five ways that you and I can be a blessing to others with our thoughts. First of all, he says “all of you be of one mind.” The Bible tells us that God has made us into one body—the body of Christ (cf. 1 Cor. 12:12; Eph. 1:22-23). We are to look out for each other and help each other to grow, so that we might be strengthened in our faith and for a life of loving service to others (cf. Eph. 4:16). When we share a common faith in Christ; when we share a common view of His kingdom; when we share a common understanding of our purpose on this earth and our future in heaven, we are united as Jesus prayed we would be (cf. Jn. 17:20-23), and then we will be a blessing to each other. We will be able to encourage one another along life’s way and strengthen each other as we face the challenges of life, so that we will not despair along the road leading to heaven but gain the victory with Christ.
Peter urges us to have “compassion for one another.” We live in a world that has become callous in the face of the pain and suffering that surrounds us. Satan wants us to adopt the attitude of so many people—"each man for himself." While it is true that none of us can deal with all of the pain and suffering in our world, each of us can address at least some of it. There is little that we can do to console the families of those who were lost in the Malaysian airliner over the Ukraine, but we can, however, view with compassion those who have lost a loved one, or who are searching for a job, or who are facing serious medical issues right here in Mankato. A heart filled with compassion seeks to reach out with the message of God’s love—a love conveyed through us, even as that same message of love and compassion was conveyed to us!
Peter says: “Love as brothers.” We are by virtue of our faith brothers and sisters in Christ. That relationship in many ways is stronger that than of blood relationships in this life. Our relatives by blood may or may not spend eternity with us, but our brothers and sisters in Christ most certainly will. Peter says that we are continuously to be seeking to meet the needs of those around us. We are to love, even as we have been loved by our brother Christ, and in so doing we bring blessing into many lives and honor the name of our precious Savior!
Peter encourages us to “be tenderhearted.” This word is used only twice in our Bibles—here and then in Ephesians. In Ephesians Paul contrasts being tenderhearted with being bitter and angry. He urges us to put bitterness and anger away, while we embrace kindness and tenderheartedness (Ephesians 4:32). Tenderness of heart allows us to forgive. This we are to do bearing in mind how God has forgiven us in Christ. The constant reminder of God’s kindness and tenderness to us is the key to our being tenderhearted and a blessing to others!
Finally Peter urges us to be “courteous.” By courteous, Peter does not simply mean saying, “excuse me,” “please,” and “thank-you,” although that certainly would not be excluded. Rather, the underlying meaning is to approach all of our relationships with an attitude of humility, which as we are encouraged elsewhere in Scripture means to put the interests and welfare of others ahead of our own (cf. 1 Cor. 10:24) and to treat others with kindness and respect. My dear friends, YOU HAVE BEEN CALLED BY GOD TO INHERIT A BLESSING! THEREFORE, BE A BLESSING TO OTHERS with your thoughts! To that end we pray with David, “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me” (Ps. 51:10).
Yes, BE A BLESSING TO OTHERS also with your words! Peter goes on to quote the Psalmist David: “For ‘He who would love life and see good days, let him refrain his tongue from evil, and his lips from speaking deceit.’” Peter then also urges us not to return “evil for evil, or reviling for reviling.” When I was young there was a common saying on the playground at school: “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never harm me.” I suppose there was some merit in those words when it came to toughening up little boys, but they certainly are not true otherwise. Words can and to inflict a lot of hurt on people. James recognizes this when he says: “The tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity. The tongue is so set among our members that it defiles the whole body, and sets on fire the course of nature, and it is set on fire by hell” (Jam. 3:6). Solomon in the Book of Proverbs testifies: “Death and life are in the power of the tongue” (Prov. 18:21a).
What you and I say to each other has a powerful impact on our lives for good or for bad. So much so that Peter says that if you love life and want to see good days, be careful with what you say! Guard you words! When you speak—speak the truth, but do so in love (cf. Eph. 4:15), so that all that is said will build others up, not tear them down. Refrain from evil, Peter says! There is no place in our relationships for profanity and cursing. Do not use your words to deceive, as do Satan and his minions. Do not respond to the wicked words of others with wicked words of your own! Do not revile a person, when he or she reviles you! Christ is the perfect example, for when He was reviled He responded with a prayer for the forgiveness of those who sinned against Him. Instead of responding in kind, Paul says: “Overcome evil with good!” (Rom. 12:21b)
It is interesting to note that Paul claims that the Holy Spirit of God is “grieved” when evil and corrupt words pass through our lips. Of all the sins that we commit, this is the only one which the Bible says “grieves” the Holy Spirit (cf. Eph. 4:30). Why would that be the case? It is because God has given us the ability to communicate for very specific purpose—certainly to praise Him, but also to share with others His truths so that they might be blessed with faith and so that faith might grow and be strengthened. God gave us the gift and ability to communicate so that we might be blessed and so that we might be a blessing! Indeed, YOU HAVE BEEN CALLED BY GOD TO INHERIT A BLESSING! THEREFORE, BE A BLESSING TO OTHERS with your words!
BE A BLESSING TO OTHERS with your actions! Peter writes: “Let him turn away from evil and do good; let him seek peace and pursue it.” True love cannot be confined to our thoughts, or merely to our words. It must be revealed in our actions. Still quoting the Psalmist David, Peter urges us to repent of any and all evil activities and strive with all of our might to do what is good! What is good? That is defined in God’s Word. We find what is good revealed in God’s Ten Commandments, which reveal our duties both to God and to our fellow human beings. Those duties can be summarized quite nicely with just one word—love! Paul writes: “Owe no one anything except to love one another, for he who loves another has fulfilled the law” (Rom. 13:8). Paul then goes on to explain that “love does no harm to a neighbor” (Rom. 13:10). Therefore, our actions ought always be directed towards the utmost welfare of our neighbor, even as Christ’s actions were and are directed towards our own welfare. Christ’s love for us frees us to love others!
Our natural selfishness radiates against such love! Our sinful reason can always think of reasons why we ought not love, or why certain individuals must not be included in God’s command to love. Satan will always strive to sow seed of dissension in our relationships, and when he does, we must not only humble ourselves and seek peace, but Peter commands us to “pursue it!” There is nothing half-hearted in such an appeal!
In closing this text, Peter once again proclaims the gospel and the law. He says: “For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, and His ears are open to their prayers; but the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.” The “righteous” are not people who always get it right. Rather, the righteous are repentant sinners who have been declared righteous by God’s grace in view of their faith in the atoning work of redemption completed by Jesus Christ. You and I are righteous as we are led by the Spirit to place our faith in Jesus. Our God watches over us and will continue to bless us. In view of that great blessing, we strive to be a blessing to others! For the ungodly, the impenitent, and all other unbelievers—this is not so! God’s judgment sadly will fall upon them in the time of His choosing.
My dear friends—as you live your lives as children of God remember—YOU HAVE BEEN CALLED BY GOD TO INHERIT A BLESSING! THEREFORE, BE A BLESSING TO OTHERS with your thoughts, with your words, and with your actions! Amen.