Blessing and Being Blessed: 1 Peter 3:8-15 (Sermon)


INTRO

Hi, I am pastor Rob. It is great to be with you. 

Gesundheit

What does this word mean? The K. family would know it. If you could pronounce it, you would too. 

  • Here is a hint: It’s first known usage was in 1914. That doesn’t help. 
  • The next hint: It is from two German words: gesund ("healthy") and -heit ("-hood") 
  • Finally: When we sneeze, we may say it or the English counterpart, “God bless you.” 

That is right. You guessed it, “Gesundheit.” 

The reason I bring this up is threefold. 

  1. How do we bless people? 
  2. How do we get blessed? 
  3. How do we define God’s blessing? 

This morning, we will go back to our study in 1 Peter to answer these questions

TEXT 

If you have your Bibles, turn to 1 Peter chapter 3 verse 8 through 15. We will be reading from the English Standard Version of the Bible. R. and K.S. will be reading for us. Please follow along. That is 1 Peter chapter 3, starting at verse 8. 

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.” Now who is there to harm you if you are zealous for what is good? But even if you should suffer for righteousness’ sake, you will be blessed. Have no fear of them, nor be troubled, but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect

PRAYER

Thank you. Let’s pray. Dear God, we need you. Thank you for dying on the cross in our place. Thank you for rising from the grave, and ascending into heaven. Thank you for causing us to be born again into a living hope. Thank you for giving us a purpose and path in life. Thank you for calling us to bless others and blessing us. Help us as we unpack your Word. AMEN. 

RECAP 

Let’s recap where we have been. Peter tells us that “Our sure hope in Christ enables us to live in a way that displays God’s glory in all circumstances.” He opens his letter explaining our blessings in Christ and transitions in chapter 2 to talk about our call, in Christ, particularly in spheres where we are under authority. He begins with those under government authority, then discusses those under a master’s authority, and finally wives under her husband’s authority. In verse 8 of chapter 3, Peter widens his scope to God’s call for everyone. He instructs the single, the supervisor, the sovereign, as well as the subject, servant, and spouse to bless that they may receive a blessing.  

BIG IDEA 

The key to the next eight verses is verse 9. Read verse 9 with me.  

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. (1 PETER 3:9)

OUTLINE 

The passage begins listing ways we are to bless. Verse 8 states, 

Finally, all of you, have unity of mind, sympathy, brotherly love, a tender heart, and a humble mind. (1 PETER 3:8)

This list describes a fantastic community. Unfortunately, circumstances make such a reality difficult to actualize. I wager that is why Peter has to bring it up. We know his audience is familiar with difficulties, sufferings, trials, and persecutions. Such events make obedience difficult.

UNITY OF MIND 

How do we bless people? The first thing Peter writes is to have “unity of mind.” What is that? The NIV translates it, “harmony.” This harmony does not mean having the exact thoughts on a subject. That is clear because husbands are to live with their wives in an understanding way. Peter doesn’t say live with your wives husbands seeing things precisely like them. If he wanted to say something that strong, he could have said it. I think Peter mentions this unity not to adopt an affirmation of faith or creed, but rather to seek common ground. Find where you agree. Be united where you are united. This is an ongoing pursuit, not a once and done signature of a covenant agreement. This aim towards togetherness blesses the community. 

SYMPATHY 

Peter connects this unity to a subsequent virtue: sympathy. Sympathy is feeling someone else’s hurt and understanding another on an emotional level. Do people feel understood by you? That is sympathy. This compassion is a blessing when you do that for one another. 

BROTHERLY LOVE

Peter’s words are like a snowball going downhill. This list grows and adds brotherly love. What is love? God defines it this way, 

Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends. (1 CORINTHIANS 13:4–8)

How is your love these days? We bless by loving. 

TENDER HEARTED

God is still building his temple, the church. He adds we must have a tender heart if we want to bless people. How is your heart towards those around you? God calls us to have a tender heart towards one another. 

BUILDING A WALL

Sometimes sin can get in the way of tenderness. Sometimes conflict, disagreement, and personality can build walls. We must tear them down and pursue bridges of love towards one another.  

PRAYER AND PRESENCE

Two ways to build a tender heart are to pray for another person and be with them. I have found as I earnestly pray for another person, my heart grows for them. The other thing that has helped me is moving towards them. Being in a relationship with them, I begin to see them differently. Too often, my anger and agitation with someone magnify in my mind. I begin to judge and assume and project things when I am not with them. Prayer and presence help build tenderness. 

HUMBLE MIND

Peter wraps up verse 8 with a call to have a humble mind. If we want to bless our closest neighbors, we must be humble. In Jeff’s message to the congregation at our member’s meeting last week, he brought up this quality. Humility is essential to Christianity. We need to be humble. 

PHILIPPIANS 2 

Philippians chapter 2 does an excellent job amplifying this list and connecting it to the humility of Christ. Keep your fingers in 1 Peter, and let’s go back a few books to the letter to the Philippians.   

So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy [Paul wrote] by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. (PHILIPPIANS 2:1–8)

CURRENT DAY 

What a blessing such qualities could be to a community. I think these attributes: unity, sympathy, love, tenderness, and humility are in short supply in America today. Some of our differences need to ironed out in person. We won’t always agree. It is tempting to hide behind the anonymity of technology and avoid the hard work of relating to people we don’t see. Relational conflicts seldom are resolved instantly or remotely. Let’s connect and learn and use technology. However, let’s talk things out in person as much as we can as well. I know some of you are doing this already or have been down this road before. Thank you for blazing a trail and doing the hard work of obedience to God’s Word, blessing one another. Satan would love to destroy our fellowship through distraction and polarization and hurt feelings. Brothers and sisters, we agree far more than we disagree. Let us bless one another. 

QUESTIONS 

Peter goes on and starts to talk about blessing those would attack us, 

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. (1 PETER 3:9)

Peter describes what a blessing isn’t. Blessing is not the lex talionis: Latin meaning eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth. We are not to dish out what we get. We don't live in the wild west of the 1900s. If someone insults you, don’t you turn around and pull your Colt and take care of business. We are not to seek revenge. Instead, we are to bless and love. 

LUKE 6

Jesus put it this way,  

But I say to you who hear, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you. To one who strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also, and from one who takes away your cloak do not withhold your tunic either. Give to everyone who begs from you, and from one who takes away your goods do not demand them back. And as you wish that others would do to you, do so to them. (LUKE 6:27–31)

Friends, we are to love our enemies. 

I DON’T HAVE ONE

What if I don’t have an enemy? Excellent. Replace the word “enemy” with the name of a person you don’t like. Do you love them? If we love our enemies, we should love those who annoy and get under our skin.

TELL THE TRUTH 

In verses 11 and 12, Peter quotes Psalm 34. David wrote it running from his government and job, his boss and master, King Saul. David attempts to thread the needle of preserving his life while honoring God and Saul. How did he do that? He changed teams. He went to work for the Philistines. Yet, he maintained God’s honor, not fighting the Israelites or taking revenge. The kind of pressure David faced internally and externally was immense. It was crushing. He writes in Psalm 34 he was crying, troubled, with many “afflictions” (vs. 19). Peter sees a parallel with David’s testimony. Verse 13 and 14 speak of harm, suffering, fear, and trouble. Read it. 

Now who is there to harm you if you are zealous for what is good? But even if you should suffer for righteousness’ sake, you will be blessed. Have no fear of them, nor be troubled. (1 Peter 3:13–14)

Drawing from Psalm 34 directly, we find two more ways to bless: the first, tell the truth. God calls us to speak the truth, not lies. Honesty is the best policy, and in the top ten for God. I think when we are sinned against or under duress, we may cut corners, shade truth, exaggerate and put some spin on a story. We can slander and malign to get even—words matter. We are to bless with our mouths, not curse. We are to tell the whole truth.

SEEK PEACE

The Psalm gives another quality to strive for: a pursuit of peace. How do we do that when war is all around us? We can’t force others to throw down their swords, but we are responsible for ourselves. Are you a peacemaker, or are you contentious, quarrelsome, insisting your way, arrogant, rude, and proud? Do you have to win at all costs? Paul wrote, “So I always take pains to have a clear conscience toward both God and man” (ACTS 24:16). Do you take pains to have a clear conscience? Is there someone in your life that you conflict? How can you move towards peace this week? 

PRACTICAL

Sometimes I am not aware of what I have done. Other times I know I have done something, just not precisely what. If I sense I have offended someone, I will seek them out in private. I may ask them, “Are we good? Have I offended you?” At times people need invitations to talk. As far as it depends on you, seek peace brothers and sisters. That is a blessing we need in our community for it to survive and thrive.  

HONOR CHRIST 

Finally, Peter caps the list of commands with an overarching one honor Christ. Look at verse 15, 

...in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy (1 PETER 3:15).

Remember, in chapter 2; Peter began telling us to honor everyone, even the pagan emperor. In chapter 3, verse 7, husbands are to honor their wives. Now, Peter turns his eyes to honor the one who matters most, Jesus Christ, our Lord. Does your life honor him? Does what you think, say, and do give him glory? Does it recognize that he is holy? 

SUMMARY

As for now, those are the specific commands in the text that bless others. To be like-minded, sympathetic, loving, tenderhearted, humble, speaking truth, pursuing peace, and honoring Christ. How is it going? Which one of those would you think needs the most attention? Where are there victories in your life? 

HOW DO WE GET GOD’S BLESSING

  1. How do we bless people? 
  2. How do we get God’s blessing? 
  3. How do we define God’s blessing? 

Peter says that if we do those things, we will be blessed. How? If you are taking notes, my next question is, how do we get blessed? Is Peter teaching a works-based theology and legalism? No, that is not what he is writing. We have to understand him. 

NOTICE 

Look at verse 9 again. 

“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” (1 PETER 3:9).

The blessing follows calling. The calling happens before they have done anything. Remember how Peter began his letter to the “elect” in chapter 1, verse 1. “...According to the foreknowledge of God the Father,” verse 2. “He has caused us to be born again,” verse 3. Peter is all about God’s grace and mercy. Here is what he wrote about calling, 

  • As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct. (1 PETER 1:14–15).
  • [He] called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy. (1 PETER 2:9–10)
  • For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps. (1 PETER 2:21)

Friends, God has called you to the big leagues. We were dead, and he made us alive. 

LOSE IT? 

Some might ask if God calls us, can we reject his call? No. That would contradict what he said earlier about having an imperishable preserved inheritance. Then why does he bring this up? 

SUSTAIN

Let me answer that in two ways. This certainly can be a more extended conversation. First, this is a warning. We reap what we sow (GALATIANS 6:7). If you give yourself to rebellion, you will reap a whirlwind. Sin breeds death in this life. There are still consequences for the Christian who sins. Secondly, God alone knows with certainty whether we are Christians. Jesus said a tree would be known by its fruits (Matthew 12:33). If there is no fruit, possibly there is no root. God is the judge. Many make a profession of religion with no real salvation. They make attendance, prayers, and service a habit, but not a relationship. They go through the motions with no relational devotion to Jesus through the Spirit. Hence, the word “that” in verse 9 is indicative not of causation but a result of God’s effectual calling. Look at verse 9 again. 

“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” (1 PETER 3:9).

In his second letter, Peter will say to make your calling and election sure (2 PETER 1:10). If you believe you will be saved. So live what you believe, brothers and sisters.

POINT 3

  1. How do we bless people? 
  2. How do we get blessed? 
  3. How do we define God’s blessing? 

That brings me to my last point: How do we define God’s blessing? 

BLESSINGS - GOOD LIFE 

What blessings of God are we talking about? Let’s look at verse 11. It says, “Whoever desires to love life and see good days.” There is a sense we can enjoy life and have good days now if we are good. 

GOOD BEGETS GOOD AND BAD BEGETS BAD

Let me illustrate how this works. Peter says in verse 13 

Now who is there to harm you if you are zealous for what is good? (1 PETER 3:13)

That is a rhetorical question. Generally, people don’t hurt people who do good. But not always, Peter goes on… 

But even if you should suffer for righteousness’ sake, you will be blessed. Have no fear of them, nor be troubled. (1 PETER 3:14)

So, even if harm comes our way from blessing others, we will be blessed and not have to shrink back and crumple to the ground. Ultimately, God has us in his hands, and nothing can separate from his love. 

GOD’S FACE

Peter expands on this blessing quoting Psalm 34

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 3:12)

God is not threatening us, “I am watching you!” No, it is God, compassionately looking after his children like a mom reviewing her kids' pictures on Facebook. His ears are attentive to their cries for mercy and help. He listens and runs to our aid. And justice will come. His face is against those who do evil. How do you want God to relate to you? 

CORAM DEO 

Friends, we who repent and believe, have these blessings. In communion, we celebrate God’s love from time past, present, and future. He went to the cross, expressing his affection for you, not based on anything you do. He thought of you on the cross and died to forgive you all your sins. He called you out of the darkness into this marvelous light that you may proclaim the excellencies.

APPLICATION 

Brothers and sisters, how is your unity, sympathy, love, heart, humility, and speech? Are you pursuing peace and honoring Christ in everything you think, say, and do? Communion is an invitation to evaluate where you are. I will let Jeff do that. May you seek to be a blessing, because of your calling, that you may be blessed. 

PRAYER 

Let’s pray. 


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