1 Peter 2:11a (NIV) 11 Dear friends, I urge you, as aliens and strangers in the world…
On verse 11a: Here is the “alien and stranger” theme again from Peter, the idea that as Christians our home is not on earth but in heaven. So don’t live as if your life on earth is all there is, but every day live with heaven in mind. 1 Peter 2:11b (NIV)
…to abstain from sinful desires, which war against your soul.
On verse 11b: How does sin “war against your soul”? By trying to get you to buy into the lie that you’ll be happier and better off if you sin. That is the deceitfulness of sin. Are you tempted to sin in a certain way today? The truth is that sin will never lead to happiness but to unhappiness. Sin will not get you to where you ultimately want to be. Sin is not a shortcut but a detour. So for the sake of your own long term happiness, you’re always better off not giving into sinful desires but abstaining from them.
1 Peter 2:12 (NIV) 12 Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us.
On verses 12: The best way to prove your critics wrong is to outlive them in terms of quality and outlast them in terms of quantity. Let your actions speak for themselves.
1 Peter 2:13-14 (NIV) 13 Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every authority instituted among men: whether to the king, as the supreme authority, 14 or to governors, who are sent by him to punish those who do wrong and to commend those who do right.
On verses 13-14: Back in Peter’s time there was the temptation for Christians to think, “I am subject to no man, only God. Therefore, I don’t need to listen to any human authority. Rather I’ll only do what God tells me directly to do.” This kind of attitude sounds spiritual but is actually unspiritual and rooted in pride. God calls us to be accountable and submissive to the human leaders He has placed over us for our good. How well you submit to your human leaders will certainly affect how much God promotes you down the road.
Also, notice for whose sake Peter tells us to submit to authority (whether that authority be our parents, our pastors, or government authorities if we live under their watch and care)? For the Lord’s sake. As part of our worship of God, as part of keeping the peace and being a good witness to the world, we are to respect and observe the laws and regulations laid down by our governing authorities as long as they are not in conflict with the clear teaching of Scripture.
Finally, notice in verse 14 what the purpose of government is: it’s not just to punish those who do wrong but to commend those who do right. If you are in a position of leadership, remember that your role is not just to punish wrong doers but to celebrate and encourage those who are doing well.
1 Peter 2:15-16 (NIV) 15 For it is God’s will that by doing good you should silence the ignorant talk of foolish men. 16 Live as free men, but do not use your freedom as a cover-up for evil; live as servants of God.
On verse 15: In Peter’s time key influencers in society were trying to convince people that Christians were the scourge of the earth, rebels, bigots and religious freaks who needed to be extinguished. Peter tells his readers: “Show them what we Christians are really like. Live such good lives that people see that truly we are not the scourge of the earth but the light of the world.” Likewise in your life today there is probably someone who has a negative opinion of Christians, who thinks Christians are nothing more than hypocrites, bigots and freaks. Show them differently. Show them the positive difference Jesus Christ makes in a person’s life for the better.
1 Peter 2:17 (NIV) 17 Show proper respect to everyone: Love the brotherhood of believers, fear God, honor the king.
On verse 17: Respect is the foundation of any healthy relationship. The Bible calls us to treat everyone with a basic level of respect. To respect someone doesn’t mean that you agree with everything they say, approve of everything they do, or like them all the time, if at all, but to respect someone means that you recognize, no matter what, that person has intrinsic worth in God’s eyes and so you treat that person accordingly.
It takes effort to show respect to someone and no effort to disrespect them. We need to go out of our way to be respectful. How respectful are you to those closest to you, to those in authority over you, to those you lead, and to strangers? In a message called “The Respect Revolution”, I uncover 7 areas where it is especially important to show respect in our relationships (for example, being respectful in the way we listen, respectful in the way we speak, respectful of others’ time). For more on the role of respect in relationships, check out that message at Thrive Church’s website.
Heavenly Father, thank You for all the lessons I can learn from Your Word today. I pray that the way I live this life and how I treat others would speak well of who You are. In Jesus’ name, AMEN!