When I was a child, my father would get frustrated when I would do a task and it didn’t turn out the way he wanted. Have you ever experienced that? I would get frustrated too but kept it inside. He was my dad, and I did what he told me to. I thought he was seeking perfection and he would never be satisfied.
The older I got, the more I began to realize I was wrong. He wasn’t frustrated at what I was doing, he was upset about my poor attitude. As a parent today, I feel the same with my children. I try to give them an example to follow. I try to be patient with them and my expectations, judging not the performance, but the attitude and effort they give.
Attitude and effort are more important than the ability to do everything perfectly. Jesus is our example of how to do things the right way and how to treat people.Jesus is our example of how to do things the right way and how to treat people. Click To Tweet
In Christianity, there is only one right way to treat somebody. In the Bible, Peter emphasizes that how we treat people matters. Attitudes. When I deal with people, sometimes I can be right and wrong at the same time. I can be right, maybe in the truth that I’m trying to get across to that person, but if I treat them poorly, I’m wrong.
Has this ever happened to you as a parent? You’re teaching your child the right thing, but maybe because of your anger and lack of self-control, you do it the wrong way. This can happen to Christians in dealing with other Christians in the church. Peter is trying to help us and all of our relationships.
What the Bible Says About Treating Others
Peter wants all believers, no matter their social status, to do the right things, the right way, and to represent Christ to those that they interact with. He explains it in the verses below.
Finally, all of you, have unity of mind, sympathy, brotherly love, a tender heart, and a humble mind.Do not repay evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary, bless, for to this you were called, that you may obtain a blessing. For whoever desires to love life and see good days, let him keep 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 prayer. But the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.-1 Peter 8-12 (ESV)
Christians show their faith in Christ by how they love other Christians and the people around them. Peter uses the term “brotherly”. This in Greek means one’s love for his sibling or family. In the context of the church, it is about loving brothers and sisters in Christ as a church family.
Love is how we treat each other with kindness and respect and dignity. Even when we disagree. There are many adjectives that Peter uses in verse eight, but I think they all center around brotherly love.Love is how we treat each other with kindness and respect and dignity. Even when we disagree. Click To Tweet
Peter uses the word harmonious. That’s powerful. All of us are a little different. All of us look a little different. All of us act differently, wear different clothes, and have different personalities, but we can still be one in Christ.
I think of how sometimes we can be divided about issues in the church. Peter says a top priority for you as believers is to live in harmony with one another. Division and dissension are not new things, they’ve always been a struggle not just for us, but for Christians in general. Can God use it for His good? Absolutely. But dissension is harmful and so is division.
Peter understands that we’re going to disagree. We don’t always have to agree, but we must seek unity in Christ. We must be in alignment with one another as we march forward accomplishing the mission of God. We cannot be marching in two different directions.
Some people are inclined to dissension or complaining. If we cause dissension over every minor issue, we will always be distracted from the main thing— to make disciples— and we will be living in negativity. The seed of dissension is always ready to grow. It is like a seed. The enemy has already placed it there and it just takes one little watering for it to grow. Therefore, let’s make a great effort to live in harmony with one another.
Therefore, let’s make a great effort to live in harmony with one another.
Peter also tells us to be sympathetic to one another. Sympathy means that we care for each other; other’s needs, joys, sorrows, celebrations, and burdens. When’s the last time that you’ve truly been burdened with somebody else’s burden?
Peter also talks about kindheartedness; being kind to one another, just like they’re a cherished family member. You can disagree with somebody and be frustrated with them, yet still be kind to them. Don’t ask yourself if you have kindheartedness, ask the people around you for the truth. Ask your spouse, your co-worker, church family members.
Finally, Peter mentions humility. I love humility because it is the opposite of pride, and that’s at the core of all church dissension. If you struggle with pride, start asking God to humble you.
Humility is a character trait that would have been unfamiliar to the Greco-Roman world, it would have made a believer stand out. Why? Because humility in that time would be a sign of weakness. If you want to stand out in our society today, let it be because of your humility.
In Philippians 2:4-5, Paul says, “Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too. You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had [NLT].” Humility is considering others above yourself, just as Jesus Christ did every day for you and me.
How Do I Treat Others Outside of The Church?
1 Peter 3:9 says, “Don’t repay evil for evil. Don’t retaliate with insults when people insult you. Instead, pay them back with a blessing…”
Two wrongs don’t make a right. I think that’s what Peter’s saying here, when the unbelieving world hates and insults you, pay them back with a blessing. Jesus constantly warned, if you let it surprise you, you’re likely to react with hatred instead of responding like Christ wants you to.
We don’t react with evil. We respond with consideration and intentionality, focused on how Christ wants us to. We’re not going for perfection. We’re going for the heart and the attitude and the effort.
It’s hard, but if you’re going to bear the name “Christian”, you are to follow the example of Christ. 1 Peter 2:23 says, “He did not retaliate when he was insulted, nor threaten revenge when he suffered. He left his case in the hands of God, who always judges fairly.” Jesus responded to evil with a blessing to the final moments on the cross.It's hard, but if you’re going to bear the name “Christian”, you are to follow the example of Christ. Click To Tweet
Even Peter failed at times. Do you remember when he tried to protect Jesus from the Romans and cut off a soldier’s ear out of anger? Jesus responded by picking up the ear and putting it back on the soldier—a miracle. He reprimanded Peter instead of the soldier.
In your life, ask yourself, how does my response make Jesus look?
Evil was defeated by the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. So be like Christ, be a blessing to those who mistreat you. And if you can’t do anything else, pray for them. This reflects the nature of those who have been given an eternal inheritance by their Savior. God is your vindication. Warrior vengeance and judgment are His and His alone.
Living Like Jesus
The Bible is clear, good works are an expression of your faith. Good works do not earn faith. It is the fruit of it. We are to do good instead of evil. A great question to ask before you take action, is this for the Greater Good? Or is it for you?
We should also actively pursue peace. How are you pursuing peace during arguments with your spouse? How are you pursuing peace instead of defending your political stance with your friends and family members? Are you always picking a fight or are you pursuing peace? If you would pursue peace, better days are ahead for you.
If you’re a believer, I pray that these virtues would help you pursue a righteous life with other believers in the church to be in harmony with them. God wants your heart, which shows itself in your effort and your attitude. Ask God to give you a desire to live in harmony with believers.