Post-Christian Europe needs followers of Jesus who understand that the Gospel is powerful in itself. We should not hold onto the privileges of old religious structures.
A closer look at 1 Peter 3:8.
Finally, be all of one mind, having compassion one of another, love as brethren, be pitiful, be courteous. (1 Peter 3:8)
The term ‘finally’ reveals that the Holy Spirit is in favour of structure. Peter is drawing a long line of thought, which began in 2:11, to a close. The fisherman writes an organized epistle thus reflecting the orderly nature of the Spirit who inspired him.
The Spirit, then, is no promoter of chaos. In the beginning the Spirit brought order into the formless universe. As Paul reminds the Corinthians, “For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all churches of the saints” (1 Corinthians 14:33). Christians are like the Gadarene, “sitting and clothed and in his right mind” (Mark 5:15).
2.- Be all of one mind
The section which Peter is concluding has to do with the grand theme of submission: submission in our inner life (2:11), in our public life (2:12), in our socio-political life (2:13-17), in our work life (2:18-25) and in our domestic life (3:1-7).
Submission is the great mark of God’s people. Whereas the world is under the rule of the jungle –‘dog eat dog’- believers gladly submit themselves to others out of their gratitude to God for the Gospel.
This mindset is to characterize all of the called. Paul used similar terms in Philippians 2:3, “Let each esteem other better than themselves” before going on to set forth the incarnate Christ as the supreme example of such humbleness (2:5-11). Every child of God should willingly subordinate their own interests to those of others (Ephesians 5:21).
3.- Having compassion one of another
A logical consequence of having a submissive mindset is that of having compassion on others. It means putting ourselves into the shoes of others. If they weep, we weep. If they rejoice, we rejoice (Romans 12:15).
Christians are not Stoics or stones. They have Christ-filled hearts. Did not Jesus weep over Jerusalem (Luke 19:41)? Was not our Lord compassionate as He looked upon the needy multitude (Matthew 9:36)? Shall we be tough if our Saviour was so tender?
4.- Love as brethren
Peter now jumps from compassion to love. Love is much more powerful than compassion. Compassion may weep and rejoice depending upon the fortune of others; but love lays its life down (John 13:15).
Love is the ultimate self-sacrifice. It takes us out of ourselves and puts others upon the throne of our heart. That’s why love seeks not its own (1 Corinthian 13:5). It is selfless.
Christian love is brotherly, fraternal love. In the same way that we jump to the defence of our blood family so too we should be quick to protect the honour of other beloved brothers and sisters in Christ!
After all, it is the precious blood of Christ that has made us one. Let us all “love as brethren”, wholly committed one to another in the name of the Lord.
5.- Be pitiful
Pitiful serves as a synonym of being compassionate. The Greek term is used once elsewhere in the New Testament, namely, in Ephesians 4:32 where Paul calls upon the saints to be “tender hearted” within the context of forgiving one another.
If Christians forget how pitiful and tender hearted God has been towards them; they will soon forget to manifest the same spirit towards others.
I recently met a Christian lady who had not attended a church for eighteen months because she was unwilling to forgive several people in her local congregation.
What possible motive could any regenerated soul ever have to justify their lack of forgiveness? Have we so soon forgotten the parable of the unmerciful servant (Matthew 18:21-35)?
Is it not significant that the only petition of the Lord’s Prayer upon which our Saviour Christ elaborated was that of forgiveness? “If you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you; but if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses” (Matthew 6:14-15).
We must be pitiful, forgiving one another as we remember how the good Lord has forgiven us.
6.- Be courteous
The meaning of “be courteous” is to be of a friendly, kind, affable spirit. Health Christians are warm people. Some may be more introvert than others, but they smile, they love, they hug, they kiss.
God’s people are welcoming and hospitable. Since they are created and redeemed by the blessed triune God, they are sociable in nature and therefore, glow with generosity and cordiality.
In the light of Peter’s exhortation, how do you line up?
Is there a structure and order to your life or are you all over the place?
Are you of a submissive mindset or do you frequently look down on others?
Are you compassionate, showing a real concern about the welfare of those around you?
Do you truly love God’s people, willing to lay your life down for their benefit?
Have you forgiven all of those who have hurt and offended you?
Is your spirit warm and affectionate, a true reflection the triune God?
May we all ask the Spirit of the Lord for assistance in this high calling of Christian love.