1 Peter 3:8-12
The Virtues that Adorn the Christian Life
Beginning with “Finally,” the Apostle summarizes his message up till now. These next few verses define for us once again some of the basics of living the Christian life (which has been Peter’s subject from the beginning), and the virtues which should adorn every man and woman professing faith in Christ Jesus. They are not natural; indeed, the natural man would find them impossible. These virtues would never propel a Fortune 500 Company that survives on the basis of profit, do not belong to social media, and are completely antithetical to any culture on earth. But they must garnish a local church.
And it seems to me that it is the local church that Peter is primarily referring to; after all, believers may only have unity of mind with other believers, and it is Christlike unity of mind of which the Apostle speaks. Indeed, each one of these—unity of mind, sympathy, brotherly love, a tender heart, and a humble mind—all speak to the underlying manner in which a local church should ever operate. This is not to say that there will never be disagreements among the beloved, but only that when there are, these are the virtues which should animate such discussions, not only within the church walls but at home as well; that is, we should not play the hypocrite. And the Christian should never ever return cursing for cursing. Indeed, the quintessential mark of the believer is that he blesses when cursed since he shall inherit a blessing. Why should we care that pagans curse us when our Father blesses us?
And the Apostle quotes Scripture to buttress his point, and for Peter, Scripture meant the Old Testament, and in this case, Psalm 34:12-16. The words of David in this psalm have a broader application than those Peter has just penned as David’s applies to behavior a Christian should manifest even before the world. So, if a believer wants to live a good life, one that he will enjoy, he is not encouraged to seek wealth but to guard his tongue from deceit and speaking evil, be it gossip, slander, sarcasm (a ubiquitous sin of our day), or anything unwholesome. And then there is the admonition to “turn away from evil.” This should go without saying but each of us has his besetting sin from which we need to turn away once and for all—so we can work on the next besetting sin. And then we are to “seek peace and pursue it” knowing that the Lord hears the prayer of the righteous but opposes the wicked. So let us fill our lives with these virtues and know the peace that passes all understanding walking with Him.