I Peter 3:8-9

(A Bible Study Led by Dr. Larry Reynolds)

August 29, 2013

 

1.      I have always had a keen interest in World War II...think that is because my father fought in that war in the European theater...while he rarely will talk about his experiences in the war, I did convince him to allow me to have a copy of his military discharge papers...from those papers I discovered that he—

--was only 19 years old when he was drafted into the army in 1943 and had just turned 22 when he was discharged at the end of the war...

--was a platoon sergeant in Company L of the 22nd Infantry...

--led machine gun squads and 60 MM mortar squads in combat in France, Belgium, Luxemburg, and Germany...

2.      And because of dad’s reluctance to talk about his experiences in World War II, I have found myself reading as much as I can about the war to help me better understand what he experienced during that time in his life...one of my favorite writers about World War II is Stephen Ambrose, the well-known military historian...one of his books is entitled The Victors, Eisenhower and His Boys: The Men of World War II...in one part of that book Ambrose describes how General George C. Marshall selected the top officers who would lead America’s war effort...listen to what Ambrose wrote about that selection process:

“Marshall headed a stupendous organization.  To do so effectively he needed assistants he could trust.  In picking them, he took professional competence for granted and concentrated on personality traits.  Certain types were, in his view, unsuited for high command.  Foremost among these were those who were self-seeking in the matter of promotion.  Next came those who always tried to ‘pass the buck.’  Officers who tried to do everything themselves and consequently got bogged down in detail were equally unsatisfactory.  Men who shouted or pounded on the desk were as unacceptable to Marshall as men who had too great a love of the limelight.  Nor could he abide a pessimist.  He surrounded himself with men who ... concentrated on the possibilities rather than the difficulties.” [Ambrose, pp.19-20]

3.      There are many similarities between the kind of people General Marshall desired for his high command, and the description in 1 Peter 3:8-9 of how God’s people should live.  These two verses are the conclusion of a large section of I Peter beginning in 2:13 where Peter addresses the question of how Christians should relate to the world.  We saw two weeks ago that the general principle which permeates this section is that Christians should be characterized by a spirit of submission--a spirit of voluntary selflessness...in—

--2:13-16 Peter applies the principle of voluntary selflessness to the relationship between Christians and their government...

--2:18-25 Peter applies the principle of voluntary selflessness to the relationship between Christian slaves and their masters...

--3:1-7 Peter applies the principle of voluntary selflessness to the relationship between Christian wives and their husbands...

Then, in the verses on which we’re going to focus in this session, Peter sums up how Christians should relate to other people.

 

T.S.‑ Notice word "all" in the phrase “let all be” in v.8...that is an important word...by using that word Peter is saying these characteristics to follow not optional for Christians...they are not things from  which can pick and choose...they are not just for few super‑spiritual Christians...instead these are things which should be  in life of every true Christian...in these verses are six characteristics which should be evident in the life of every genuine Christian...we’re going to focus on the first three characteristics in this session and the last three in the next session...

I.       Every Christian should be “harmonious”

1.      The Greek word which is translated “harmonious” in the NASB and “of one mind” in the KJV is homophron...this is the only place in the NT this word is used...homoprhon is made up of two other Greek words...homos which means the same or together...and phren which is a primitive word for heart or mind...so the word means to be together in heart or in mind or to be of the same heart or mind...

2.      The word does not mean that we are to be exactly like...it doesn’t mean that there are to be no differences among Christians... invariably, wherever Christians gather there will be—

--a wide range of opinions on certain theological issues...not every Christian will interpret every part of God’s Word in the same way...

--a variety of preferences and tastes when it comes to worship...some prefer a more traditional worship style...others prefer a more contemporary style...still others desire a blending of the two...

--differing levels of interest in the various disciplines of the Christian life...some will lean more toward ministry...others will have a passion for evangelism...some will have a special interest in missions...others are drawn toward discipleship and Christian education...

3.      And being “harmonious” does not mean that we must do away with all differences...instead, it means that we do not allow our differences to become barriers to fellowship between us and or fellow Christians...it means to have the kind of spirit about us which makes it possible for us to blend together with our brothers and sisters in Christ into a unified whole, into a fellowship of people who are together in heart...

4.      To say that I am not a musician would be an understatement...you could write all I know about music on the palm of your hand...but I think I do know the difference between unison and harmony... unison is when everyone is on the same note...harmony is when different notes are being sung or played, but they blend together into a single sound...

5.      That’s the way it should be among God’s people...we don’t have to all sing the same note...but we do need to learn to blend with our fellow believers to present a united front and a beautiful sound to our world...we are to be “harmonious”...

 

II.  Every Christian should be “sympathetic”

1.      Look the next word on this list of qualities...like the word translated “harmonious” this is the only place this particular word is used in the NT...and like the word translated “harmonious” it is made up of two other words...

--the first part of the word translated “sympathetic” (sunpathes) is from a preposition meaning together or together with (sun)...

--the last part of the word is from a verb meaning to suffer...

So the word means to suffer with or to feel with another...

2.      It is very close to our word empathy...to having the ability of putting yourself in another person’s shoes...to feel what that person feels...to see things as that person sees them...

3.   In the Scripture the church is described as the body of Christ...we, as individual Christians, are all parts of that body...and as parts of the same body we are to look after each other...

4.   This is a principle which is often repeated in Scripture...in the book of—

--Romans we are instructed to “rejoice with those who rejoice and weep with those who weep...”

--Galatians we are told to “Bear one another’s burdens, and thus fulfill the law of Christ...”

--Philippians we are reminded to “not merely look out for your own personal interest, but also for the interests of others...”

       3.    In the publication Brian’s Lines Brian Harbour tells of an instructor in a nursing school who gave the class a pop quiz...the  last question of the quiz was, “What is first name of the woman who cleans the school?”...all of the students had seen the woman but had never bothered to learn her name...when they asked the instructor why that question was on the test he replied, “In your careers you will meet many people.  All of them are significant.  They deserve your attention and care...”

4.      That’s what it means to be sympathetic...genuinely caring for others...

 

III.  Every Christian should be “brotherly”

1.      The word translated “brotherly” is philadelphos...like the first two words on this list, it is also a compound word...the first part, philos, carries the idea of beloved and the second part, adelphos, means brother...

2.      This is the word that was commonly used in the 1st century to describe the affectionate feelings members of a family should have for each other...and what Peter is saying is that Christians should relate to each other as brothers and sisters...

3.      I like how one writer puts it:

“We must love each other, because we are members of one family.  We are not strangers to each other within the Christian church; much less are we isolated units; we are brothers and sisters of each other, because we have the one Father, even God.  The Christian church is not a collection of acquaintances; it is not even a gathering of friends; it is a family of God.” [Barclay, Romans 12]

4.      The year was 1913...it was the 50th anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg, one of the bloodiest battles in the history of our nation...many aging veterans of the War Between the States gathered on Gettysburg on that 50th anniversary to re-enact Pickett’s charge, which was a key part of the Battle of Gettysburg ...the Union veterans took their places behind some rocks up on a ridge..the Confederate veterans started marching toward them across the field below, the field that 50 years earlier was covered with the dead and wounded...as the two armies met on the day of the re-enact, an incredible thing happened...instead of doing battle as they had done 50 years before, the aging men through their arms around each other and wept...

5.      That’s how it should be in the family of God...instead of doing battle with each other, we should be embracing, encouraging, and upholding one another...

            CONCLUSION

1.      B.B. McKinney, the well-known musician and hymn writer wrote these words:

If I can plant a rose where thorns have been

Dispel the gloom, and let the sunshine in;

If I can help some broken life to rise again,

I shall not live in vain.

 

If I can sing a song of love and cheer,

Some song that lifts a soul from doubt and fear,

And bring them back to know that God is always near,

I shall not live in vain.

 

If I can be a light wher-e’er I go,

A light to shine for those in sin and woe,

If I can lead some soul my living Christ to know,

I shall not live in vain.

2.      I think that is something of what this part of God’s Word is saying to us...our lives are not lived in vain when we are—

--“harmonious toward others...when we are of the same heart with them...

--sympathetic toward others...when we allow our selves to feel what they feel and see what they see...

--”brotherly” toward others...when we treat those around us as family...

Those are characteristics of real Christians...
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