1 Peter 3:8-12
Everyone wants to live the best life. I’ve never met a single person who wants to have a bad life. Every one of us long to be happy, blessed, and want to lead the best life.
The problem is, people in our world have very different perceptions of what exactly the best life is. Is the best life a life with a lot of money or is the best life filled with lots of vacations and travel around the globe? Is popularity and fame the best life or is the best life a quiet and peaceful life?
The real fact is that we all experience some not very good days. So, today I want to give you the key of having the best life in spite of all that is happening around you.
1 Peter 3:8-12 8 Finally, all of you, live in harmony with one another; be sympathetic, love as brothers, be compassionate and humble. 9Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult. On the contrary, repay evil with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing. 10For, “Whoever would love life and see good days must keep their tongue from evil and their lips from deceitful speech. 11They must turn from evil and do good; they must seek peace and pursue it. 12For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous and his ears are attentive to their prayer, but the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.”
Peter is writing to a group of Christian who is going through a tough life. In this wonderful text Peter opens up to us some windows of understanding about the best life.
Now, if you want to have the best life, here’s what you need:
1. HAVE THE RIGHT ATTITUDE.
The best life is a question of attitude, not possessions. Peter talks about the attitude of a good life in a context of three basic spheres of our relationship: Relationship to the government, relationship in the workplace, and relationship in the marriage. So what should be our attitude?
1 Peter 1:8 Finally, all of you, live in harmony with one another; be sympathetic, love as brothers, be compassionate and humble.
Good Relationships are the key to have the best life.
One of the most difficult things in life, is to harmoniously manage our relationships. Relationships involve two or more people, and hence are prone to a clash or conflict of ideas. So if one can develop harmonious relationships that is the first step to the good life. What is that harmonious relationship? 1 Peter 1:8 Finally, all of you, live in harmony with one another; be sympathetic, love as brothers, be compassionate and humble.
Where do we find the example of a harmonious relationship? Jesus Christ. Jesus came to reconcile man back to God. Christ is the embodiment of love, sympathy, compassion and humility. Only if you are having a strong foundation in Jesus can you have harmony in your other relationships. So the best life comes to the question: How is your relationship to Jesus Christ?
2. THE RIGHT RESPONSE. DON’T RETALIATE.
Peter 1:9 Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult. On the contrary, repay evil with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing.
If I want the best life, I must not take revenge.
Illustration: While checking in the luggage at the airport, a man became angry with the employee was handling his luggage. For several minutes he belittled the employee and criticized his every move. Surprisingly, the employee didn’t seem troubled by this man’s verbal abuse and was remained calm. After the angry man moved on from the counter, a woman approached the employee with her baggage and asked, “How do you put up with such injustice?” The employee said, “It’s easy. That guy’s going to New Delhi, but I’m sending his bags to Chennai.
No matter how unjustly you might be treated you do not retaliate. “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” You don’t try to get your pound of flesh in your own way.
God says don’t hold a grudge, don’t retaliate. Don’t pay back. Be like Jesus Christ. See what Peter said about Jesus: 1 Peter 2:21 To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps.
1 Peter 2:23 When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly.
So, the right attitude is one of peace and harmony. The right response is a non-retaliation response.
Now, the best life then is not what you have on the outside, but how you respond on the inside, the right attitude, the right response.
3. THE RIGHT STANDARD.
If you want to have the best life, then your life must be built on the right standard. 1 Peter 3:10-11 10For, “Whoever would love life and see good days must keep their tongue from evil and their lips from deceitful speech. 11They must turn from evil and do good; they must seek peace and pursue it.
Controlling my tongue is vital to my best life.
Psalm 141:3 Set a guard over my mouth, Lord; keep watch over the door of my lips. It’s a very practical prayer.
A person who has the best life is the one who keeps the tongue under control. James chapter 3. talks about the tongue. James says that the tongue can be unruly, tongue is literally a fire, it defiles the entire body, sets on fire the course of our life, is set on fire by hell, nobody can tame the tongue; it’s a restless evil, full of deadly poison.
Brethren, one of the most difficult things to do in life is to control our tongues or our speaking!
Ben Franklin, “Teach your child to hold his tongue. He’ll learn fast enough to speak.”
Someone said, “Usually the first screw that gets loose in a person’s head is the one that controls the tongue.”
A young man was sent to Socrates to learn oratory or how to speak. On being introduced to the great philosopher, he talked so much that Socrates asked for double fees. “Why charge me double?” asked the young man. Socrates replied, “Because I must teach you two sciences: one, how to hold your tongue and the second, how to speak; and the first science is much more difficult.”
If you want to the best life, then learn to control your speaking because, I guarantee you, if you say the wrong words, you will have a bad life.
We need to keep our tongue from evil and lips from deceitful speech. Keeping tongue from evil is not to retaliate back with our tongue. Keeping tongue from deceitful speech means to not to lie. We must be committed to truth. Now, these are what things are to be eliminated if you want to love life and see good days.
Then there are positive things: 1 Peter 3:11 They must turn from evil and do good; they must seek peace and pursue it. You have four imperative commands in 1 Peter 3:11
Turn from evil.
Now the verb here, “to turn away,” means to reject. It is a positive rejection of what is sinful in the treatment of others, even our persecutors.
The good life is turning from evil and doing good. The word means excellent in quality.
Illustration: Mother: Shawn, what did you do when John called you a liar? Shawn: I remembered what you told me. “A soft answer turns away anger.” Mother: Very good, Billy. What soft answer did you give him? Shawn: I answered him with a soft tomato!
And by the way, the word here for seeking is the strongest verb, that means to hunt after peace.
That means when you want to give back to somebody tit for tat with your tongue, seek peace and pursue peace. Don’t talk back.
Now get the picture. You’re in a hostile situation, you’re under pressure, people are trying to make life absolutely miserable for you from a human viewpoint and succeeding at it, causing you great suffering, and you are told by the Word of God to do everything you can to be harmonious, sympathetic, brotherly, kind-hearted, humble in spirit, never give back evil for evil, insult for insult and if you really want the best life, make sure you hold your tongue from any evil retaliation. Do only what is good, seek peace even with your persecutors, and hunt that peace aggressively. Make a persistent effort to be a peacemaker.
We’re to be in the world to be the peacemakers.
We are to be peacemakers.
The Beatitudes remind us of that: Matthew 5:9 Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.
Romans 14:17 For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit,
So many Christians are doing the opposite today on so many fronts. We are the citizens of the kingdom, we must be the peacemakers.
2 Timothy 2:22 Flee the evil desires of youth and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, along with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart.
Romans 12:18 If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.
Romans 14:19 Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification.
2 Corinthians 13:11 Finally, brothers and sisters, rejoice! Strive for full restoration, encourage one another, be of one mind, live in peace. And the God of love and peace will be with you.
So, people live the good life are people who have the right attitude, who have the right response, and live by the right standard. The attitude, response, and standard of the Word of God.
4. THE RIGHT INCENTIVE.
1 Peter 3:12 For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous and his ears are attentive to their prayer, but the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.
That’s the incentive. Here we are reminded of what ought to motivate us. You say, “Why should I be motivated to have the right attitude, right response and submit to the right authority?” And the answer is for the eyes of the Lord are upon the righteous. The incentive is that God is what? God is watching.
Why is God watching over us carefully? Why are His eyes constantly on us? God is watching everything in order that He might listen to our prayers.
God is watching me and he is attentive to my prayer.
So what is Peter saying? Listen, God is watching and waiting to meet your every need. What a tremendous promise, what a glorious truth.
What is our incentive then? Well our incentive is to so live that the eyes of the Lord are on us and as He watches us with omniscience and hears our cry, He meets our needs.
We do live in a hostile world. We must obey God’s authority and we are motivated by the fact that since we are zealous for what is right and zealous for what is good, who is going to harm us when God sees our whole life and hears our every prayer and answers it?