TODAY’S READING: I PETER 1-5

 

OVERVIEW:

The call to be holy; Jesus Christ is our cornerstone; learning to submit; the relationship between a husband and wife; suffering for the right reasons; yielding everything to Christ.

 

HIGHLIGHTS & INSIGHTS:

As the Book of I Peter opens, Peter is pointing these believers who were enduring intense suffering toward the “lively hope” that was theirs because of “the resurrection of Jesus Christ” (1:3).  He reminds them that though all of their possessions may be taken from them in this life (as many of them had experienced in their suffering), God has promised them “an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away,” and that it has been “reserved in heaven” for them.  Peter recognized that that promise would make life in the future glorious and filled with rejoicing, but that for this present time, the readers of his letter were “in heaviness through manifold temptations” or trials.

 

Verse 7 of chapter 1 is a BLOCKBUSTER.  It lets us know several key things about the trials, difficulties, and sufferings we endure in this life. First, it lets us know that these difficulties are not some random acts of fate, but rather the God-ordained “trying of our faith.”  In other words, God has our faith in the witness stand, and wants to see what it is made of.  Because of Peter’s understanding of these trials, he uses a term to refer to them that seldom comes to mind when the bottom has seemingly dropped out of our lives.  He refers to these difficulties (trials) as “precious.” His point is, they aren’t precious because of what they are, but because of what they actually accomplish. God has either appointed or allowed these circumstances to come into our lives to purify us as we move toward our ultimate accounting before the Lord Jesus Christ at His appearing.

 

Just as gold is the most “precious” commodity on earth from man’s vantage point, our faith is the most “precious” commodity on earth from God’s perspective.  And just as gold is purified as it is “tried in the fire,” so also are we (or is our faith)! 

 

Peter gives his readers all of the hope and confidence we need as we face the trials of life, reminding us that God’s intention through them is that we “might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ”!  Peter’s point is, knowing that “praise and honour and glory” will be the result in “THAT” day, should have a major impact on our attitude TOday!

 

The Book of I Peter is all about being set apart for God’s use.  Another way to say that is to say that this Book is about us being “holy.”  Usually when we think of “holiness,” or being “holy,” we start to make a list in our minds of the things we can and cannot do.  While holiness certainly dictates what we do and do not do, it is certainly not the main thought behind God’s command in 1:16, “Be ye holy: for I am holy.”  Being holy is not a matter of rules and regulations. It is about God working in us to make us like Himself, changing us from the inside out – not the outside in.

 

As Peter continues his epistle, he lets us know that not only should our holiness manifest itself in our reaction to trials, but in our submission to the authorities God has placed in our lives.  Even when those authorities are wrong we are to have an attitude of submission, not looking to get our own way.  In light of Peter’s instruction concerning Christian submission, it is difficult to reconcile that in the 21st century we have “Christian” organizations and lawyers fighting for Christians’ rights!  Obviously, that doesn’t mean Christians can’t use the laws of the land to try to bring about change, but demanding our “rights” is a concept foreign to the Bible.  Jesus left us an example of submitting to those in authority even when they were wrong.  In fact, God even specifically says that it is “thankworthy” if we suffer wrongfully for being a Christian.  When we do, we remind Him of His Son!  That’s why He becomes so filled with thanks. (Imagine that, God thanking us for !

something!) Correct me if I’m wrong, but I’m afraid that fighting for our “rights” has something to do with our not wanting to suffer.

 

Peter reveals that holiness also expresses itself in having a right relationship with our spouse.  A right relationship is the result of husbands honoring their wives, and wives submitting to their husbands (3:1-7).  Notice also, that carrying out your biblical responsibility to your spouse is not dependent on whether or not they fulfill theirs!   Husbands are to honor their wives even if the wife isn’t what God wants her to be.  Likewise, wives are to submit to their husbands, despite his shortcomings, and even his disobedience (3:1). 

 

Have you ever noticed that the things that are valuable to God just happen to be the very things that this world is against?  Wives, check out the value God places on a “meek and quiet spirit” (3:4).  The world despises such a concept!  Husbands, honoring your wife in this culture may not make you a “macho man” in the eyes of your buddies, but it will keep you on praying ground with God (3:7). That’s how much value He places on your responsibility to your wife. If you refuse to honor her, He will refuse to hear you when you pray!

 

Next, Peter shows us that holiness also expresses itself in having love, compassion, and one mind with other believers (3:8-9).  True holiness doesn’t render evil for evil, or railing for railing, but rather blessing.  I think it is worth noting, that not rendering evil for evil and railing for railing is in the context of having “love as brethren” (3:8-9). That should let us know that there will be times when some other believer is going to wrong us.  They might do something to us or say something about us; it might be premeditated, or it might not. What is your response going to be?  Is it going to be to “bless” them, or to “get even” with them?  Will we offer forgiveness, or will we hold a grudge?  Being holy (being set apart for God’s use) does not express itself in seeking vengeance upon others – whether by doing them evil, or wishing it upon them.

 

As you read through I Peter you will notice a recurring theme: loving the brethren, and enduring suffering for Christ.  It just so happens that those two things seem to be the very things we have the hardest time doing! Pride in us keeps us unwilling to cover the sins of others when they wrong us (4:8), and makes us think that we deserve better in the midst of suffering.  Perhaps that is why God commands us in chapter 5 to humble ourselves under His mighty hand.  But how do we do that?  Pay careful attention to 5:5-7.  God doesn’t end the sentence in verse 6, but rather, completes the thought of verse 6 in verse 7.  The way we humble ourselves before God is by casting all of our care upon Him!  Most of the time this verse is applied in times of sorrow, and rightfully so, because it does certainly teach us that God cares for us.  However, God wants this verse to become practical for us, not just with the cares that make us sorrowful – but with everything we find ourselves “ca!

ring” about.  Who of us doesn’t wrestle with the “cares of this world” (our finances, our careers, our families, our future)? Notice that 5:7 says that God wants us to cast ALL of our cares upon Him.  God wants us to genuinely surrender every aspect of our lives to Him. That’s what genuine humility is all about!  And that’s when God pours out His grace (the desire and power to obey God) upon us (James 4:6).