1 Peter 3:8-12

“Finally, all of you be like-minded and sympathetic, love one another, and be compassionate and humble, not paying back evil for evil or insult for insult but, on the contrary, giving a blessing, since you were called for this, so that you may inherit a blessing.

For the one who wants to love life
and to see good days,
let him keep his tongue from evil
and his lips from speaking deceit,
and let him turn away from evil
and do what is good.
Let him seek peace and pursue it,
because the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous
and his ears are open to their prayer.
But the face of the Lord is against
those who do what is evil.”

We took a little detour on my last blog post to cover the topic of unity, so let’s get back on track! Peter now moves on in his letter from specific areas of instruction to practical principles for all Christians. The first thing he writes is that we are to be like-minded. Other versions use words and phrases such as ‘harmonious’, ‘unity of mind’, and ‘be of one mind’. There is a reason this concept is first on his list. It is that important! In Psalm 133:1 David writes, “How good and pleasant it is when brothers live together in harmony!” I am not going to write more on this here because I wrote a whole post on this subject. If you haven’t read it yet, go back and read it first, then come back and finish this one.

Next Peter writes that we are to be sympathetic. What does this mean? The dictionary defines sympathy as a feeling of sincere concern for someone who is experiencing something difficult or painful. This is different than tolerance. I was listening to Mike Winger’s sermon on this passage, and I liked how he put it. He said that sympathy does not compromise values. We can genuinely care for what people are going through and show concern and love for them, but we don’t have to agree with or excuse their lifestyle choices. But this verse is talking about living with believers. We are to sympathize with one another. Romans 12:15 says, “Rejoicewith those who rejoice; weep with those who weep.”

Peter says we are to love one another. This one seems so obvious, but is it something we do? Jesus taught this when he gave the disciples a new command. “I give you a new command: Love one another. Just as I have loved you, you are also to love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another” (John 13:34-35). He also said, “This is my command: Love one another as I have loved you” (John 15:12). Paul writes in Romans 12:10, “Love one another deeply as brothers and sisters. Take the lead in honoring one another.” And in 1 John we read the following. “For this is the message you have heard from the beginning: We should love one another… (3:11) and “Dear friends, let us love one another, because love is from God, and everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God” (4:7).

The last two items on his list are that we are to be compassionate and humble. We are to have soft hearts toward one another. Jesus said in his Sermon on the Mount, “Blessed are the humble, for they will inherit the earth” (Matthew 5:5). In Proverbs we read that “…God mocks those who mock, but gives grace to the humble” (3:34). And in Ephesians Paul writes, “And be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving one another, just as God also forgave you in Christ” (4:32). This leads to the last part of this passage.

Peter goes on to describe what this looks like. Peter has described five characteristics of what the Christian life should look like. We are to be like-minded, sympathetic, loving, compassionate, and humble. If we do this, we will not pay back evil for evil, or insult for insult, but instead we will give a blessing. This passage is very similar to Paul’s letter to Romans where he writes, “Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud; instead, associate with the humble. Do not be wise in your own estimation. Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Give careful thought to do what is honorable in everyone’s eyes. If possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Friends, do not avenge yourselves; instead, leave room for God’s wrath, because it is written, Vengeance belongs to me; I will repay, says the Lord” (12:16-19).

This is very different than what the world teaches. Over and over, Peter has written that we are to be different. We are set apart. We are to conduct ourselves honorably. And here we are told not to pay back evil for evil, or insult for insult. We are to follow Jesus example. He taught us, You have heard that it was said, Love your neighborand hate your enemy. But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those whopersecute you…” (Matthew 5:43-44).

Not only are we NOT to pay back evil for evil or insult for insult, we are to give a blessing. Peter writes “…since you were called for this, so that you might inherit a blessing.” Roger Raymer writes in his commentary on 1 Peter, “Peace is pursued by returning a blessing (1 Peter 3:9) when an insult is given. ‘Blessing’ (eulogountes) here means to speak well of someone… Jesus said ‘Pray for those who persecute you” (Matt. 5:44) and Paul wrote, “When we are cursed, we bless (1 Cor. 4:12).

The Psalm Peter ends this passage with is Psalm 34:12-16. It reads:

“Who is someone who desires life,
loving a long life to enjoy what is good?
Keep your tongue from evil
and your lips from deceitful speech.
Turn away from evil and do what is good;
seek peace and pursue it.

The eyes of the Lord are on the righteous,
and his ears are open to their cry for help.

The face of the Lord is set
against those who do what is evil.”

We are wise to remember that the Psalms and Proverbs are not promises, but principles that guide us. We are not promised a long life if we do what is good, but these are the principles we are to live by. We make a mistake when we think that we are promised the things we read in the Psalms and Proverbs and we set ourselves up for disappointment. But these are principles that we can use to guide us in our lives. Peter knew that the readers of his letter were about to go through some very difficult times as Christians. Some were already being tried and tortured for their faith. But these believers had hope. They had the hope that they had an inheritance that was imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, that was kept in heaven for them. (1 Peter 1:4). They knew they were going to receive the goal of their faith, the salvation of their souls. (1 Peter 1:9). And this hope was what got them through the difficulties of this life with joy in the suffering.

Friends, you too can have this joy. You can have this hope. I’m going to write again the verse from 1 Peter 1:3-4.

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Because of his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead and into an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you.”

No matter what happens in this life, I have this hope. I have an inheritance that is waiting for me. I know that in the end, God’s justice will prevail.

Grace be with you! 


2 responses to “1 Peter 3:8-12”

  1. Kimberly, I’ve shared your beautiful blog on my own, as has my wife on her Facebook. We love your writing and the life with which God has blessed you!


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