1 Peter 3:8-18
Sermon by Rick Crandall
Grayson Baptist Church - Jan. 20, 2013
*Much of life is about getting ready: Getting ready for school, getting ready for church, getting ready for a date, getting ready for the big game, and getting ready to take the “big plunge.”
*This need to get ready shows up in a few sayings most of us have heard: “Ready, set, go!” “Ready, aim, fire.” And “ready or not, here I come.”
*We all need to get ready. And the most important thing anybody can ever do to get ready is receive Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. Christ died on the Cross for our sins and rose again from the dead to rule as King of kings and Lord of lords. So, you will never be ready for eternity until you trust in Jesus.
*Probably all of us here tonight would say that yes, by the grace of God, and the cross of Jesus Christ, I am ready for eternity! -- But are we ready for what might happen today? And what about tomorrow? How should we get ready for life in this world? God’s Word shows us what to do.
1. First: Get ready to live in love.
*This is the sum of what Peter tells us to do in vs. 8-9. Here the Apostle said:
8. Finally, all of you be of one mind, having compassion for one another; love as brothers, be tenderhearted (or “pitiful” the KJV says), be courteous;
9. not returning evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary blessing, knowing that you were called to this, that you may inherit a blessing.
*When Peter wrote these words, he must have been thinking about something he said back in 1 Peter 2:23, where Peter held up our Lord as an example to us. Here’s what Peter said about Jesus in that verse: “When He was reviled, did not revile in return; when He suffered, He did not threaten, but committed Himself to Him who judges righteously.” God wants us to live in love like that. And it makes sense, because everybody needs love! We all need to get it. And we all need to give it.
*Verse 9 in the NAS tells us not to return “evil for evil or insult for insult.” This reminds us that sometimes we drop the ball. And sometimes we get the ball dropped on us. So, we need to get Christ-like love. And we need to give it. In these two verses Peter helps us understand what this Christ-like love is like.
 For example, Christ-like love harmonious. That’s why in vs. 8, Peter says, “All of you be of one mind.” Or as the KJV says, “Be ye all of one mind.” God wants us to be like-minded, living together in unity as believers.
 Christ-like love is harmonious. And it’s compassionate. Peter tells us in vs. 8 to have “compassion for one another.” The idea is having sympathetic feelings for other people. And in fact, the original word here is where we get our word “sympathy.”
*Christ-like love enters into the feelings of others as if they were our own. Christ-like love suffers with them. As Romans 12:15 says: “Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep.” Sometimes we can’t know how other people feel, but we can try. We can listen to their hurts. And spend time with them, even when we don't know what to say.
 Christ-like love is compassionate. And it’s tenderhearted or “pitiful” in the KJV. The root-word picture behind this word is actually your bowels or intestines. It’s the idea that you care so much for someone you can actually feel it in your gut. It’s the same word we see in Ephesians 4:31-32, where the Apostle Paul tells believers:
31. Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice.
32. And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God in Christ also forgave you.
*This tenderhearted love changes the way we look at people and things. King Duncan shared about a grandmother and her little grandson, whose face was sprinkled with bright freckles.
*One day they went to zoo. Lots of children were waiting in line to get their cheeks face-painted with tiger paws. And while they were waiting, a mean girl in line said: “You've got so many freckles, there's no place to paint!”
*The little boy was embarrassed. But Mamaw knelt down next to him and said: “I love your freckles.” Then she traced her finger across his cheek and added this: “When I was a little girl I always wanted freckles. Freckles are beautiful!”
*The boy looked up, “Really?” “Of course,” she said. “Why, just name me one thing that's prettier than freckles.” The little boy thought for a moment, looked up at his mamaw’s face, and softly said: “Wrinkles.” (1)
 Christ-like love changes the way we see things. It’s tenderhearted. But in vs. 8, Peter also tells us that it is “courteous.” This love is genuinely and humbly polite.
*Here Peter tells us a whole lot about Christ-like love. But one of the most important other things about love is that it must be expressed. Love must be communicated, like the Lord did in Jeremiah 31:3. There He said: “Yes, I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore with lovingkindness I have drawn you.”
*Love must be communicated, and it must be demonstrated. Again, Jesus Christ is our example, as we see in Romans 5:8, which says that “God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”
*God demonstrated His love for us, and he wants us to demonstrate love too!
-So, get ready to live in love.
2. Also get ready for bountiful blessings.
*This is Peter’s message to us in vs. 9, where he says that Christians should not be “returning evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary blessing, knowing that you were called to this, that you may inherit a blessing.”
 Christians: We are called to inherit the blessing of salvation.
*We are called to inherit the rich blessings that come through the cross of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ:
-Forgiveness of sins.
-Fellowship with God.
-Fellowship with God’s family.
-And forever in Heaven.
 We have the blessings of salvation. But God also wants us to have the blessings of sanctification.
*Sanctification is a life set apart by God and for God, a life of holiness and righteousness. That is the blessed life. And this is Peter’s message to us in vs. 10-12:
10. For “He who would love life and see good days, let him refrain his tongue from evil, and his lips from speaking guile;
11. let him turn away from evil and do good; let him seek peace and pursue it.
12. For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, and his ears are open to their prayers; but the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.”
*Here Peter was quoting Psalm 34:12-16, and he is reminding us that the Christian life is a changed life. Here Peter also reminds us that God never, ever gives us the O.K. to go ahead and sin. No -- He wants us to get ready for bountiful blessings.
3. But we must also get ready to suffer like our Savior.
*Suffering for Christ is one of the main themes of this letter from Peter. We saw this chapter 2, and we will see it again in chapter 4.
*Now starting here in vs. 13-14, Peter was very clear about the persecution that can come to believers. Peter began with this question:
13. And who is he who will harm you if you become followers of what is good?
14. But even if you should suffer for righteousness' sake, you are blessed (or “happy” in the KJV). “And do not be afraid of their threats, nor be troubled.”
*Peter states an amazing truth here: Christians can suffer with joy. Not that the suffering is enjoyable, but in our suffering, we have the joy of the Lord’s comfort and companionship.
*We also have the joy of knowing that a great reward is coming our way. You see, that word “blessed” or “happy” is the same word Jesus used when He talked about Christian suffering in Luke 6:22-23. There the Lord said:
22. Blessed are you when men hate you, and when they exclude you, and revile you, and cast out your name as evil, for the Son of Man's sake.
23. Rejoice in that day and leap for joy! for indeed your reward is great in heaven, for in like manner their fathers did to the prophets.
*But Peter is not finished talking about our suffering for Christ. Starting in vs. 16, Peter says that we should be:
16. having a good conscience, that when they defame you as evildoers, those who revile your good conduct in Christ may be ashamed.
17. For it is better, if it is the will of God, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil.
18. For Christ also suffered once for sins, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive by the Spirit,
*Billy Graham once said: “Jesus invited us, not to a picnic, but to a pilgrimage; not to a frolic, but to a fight. He offered us, not an excursion, but an execution. Our Savior said that we would have to be ready to die to self, sin, and the world.”
*A.W. Tozer once wrote: “Let us not be shocked by the suggestion that there are disadvantages to the life in Christ. There most certainly are. Abel was murdered. Joseph was sold into slavery. Daniel was thrown into the den of lions. Stephen was stoned to death. Paul was beheaded. And a noble army of martyrs was put to death by various painful methods all down the long centuries.
*And where the hostility did not lead to such violence (and mostly it did not and does not) -- the sons of this world nevertheless managed to make it tough for the children of God in a thousand cruel ways.” (2)
*An example from ten years ago, centers on seven high school students from Westfield, Massachusetts. These students were members of the L.I.F.E. Bible Club in their school. And that December, they decided to pass out candy canes to their fellow students. Attached to each candy cane was a little card with Scripture verses and the story of the candy-maker who invented the candy cane as a witness to Jesus.
*You probably know the story. Carmen tells it at the Toy Store every year. The cane is shaped like the Good Shepherd’s staff. The red stands for the blood Jesus poured out on the cross. The white stands for the Lord’s purity. It also stands for the purity Jesus gives us when He washes away our sins. And when you turn the candy cane upside down, it looks like a “J,” the first letter in our Lord’s name.
*Well, these seven Christian students were planning to pass out the candy canes on the last day before Christmas break. And they decided to ask their principal for permission to pass them out during non-class time. But the principal refused the request, saying that the Christian message might be “offensive” to other students.
*The school superintendent agreed and the request was denied. The students had a tough call to make. They believed that God had called them to share the Gospel message with their classmates. Should they abide by the school's decision, or follow through with their greater calling?
*They decided to go ahead and distribute the small gifts, and they handed out about 450 candy canes to fellow students during non-class time. But after they returned from Christmas break, they were summoned to the principal's office and suspended for their actions.
*Now these were top-flight students. And the principal had absolutely no right to forbid them from passing out the candy canes during non-instruction time. A lawsuit was filed on their behalf by Matthew Staver of “The Liberty Counsel.”
*Mr. Staver said, “These students faced a dilemma in which they had to make a decision whether to compromise their Christian beliefs by remaining silent or to stand up for Christ and face the consequences. These courageous students chose to do what was right rather than what was expedient.” (3)
*So should we. -- As Christians, we must get ready to suffer like our Savior.
4. And get ready for a testimony that transforms lives.
*This was Peter’s message to us back in vs. 15, where in the KJV he said: “But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear:
*Sometimes lost people seem more open to spiritual truth. Maybe they are in the middle of a crisis situation. Or maybe they are just a little more sensitive to the leadership of the Holy Spirit. You could call it a teachable moment.
*I still remember a teachable moment like that around the time I got out of high school. I was just as lost as I could be, with almost no interest in spiritual things. In fact, I was a firmly committed atheist. But occasionally I would wonder about the truth. And I remember one day we were standing in our living room when I asked my dad about Jesus.
*I said, “Jesus didn’t really claim to be God did He? -- That’s not in the Bible is it?” Dad gave the right answer. He said “Yes.” But he didn’t show me.
*When I think about that conversation, now over 40 years ago, I still wish Dad had sat me down and gone through the Word of God to show me. I wish that he would have opened the Bible and said, “Look here son. Here is a place where you can see it clearly: Jesus is the Lord God Almighty.”
*Here are some of the Scriptures I wish Dad had shown me that day:
-John 1:1-3, speaking about Jesus says:
1. In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
2. The same was in the beginning with God.
3. All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made.
-After Jesus miraculously healed a man, John 5:15-18 says:
15. The man departed, and told the Jews that it was Jesus, which had made him whole.
16. And therefore did the Jews persecute Jesus, and sought to slay him, because he had done these things on the Sabbath day.
17. But Jesus answered them, My Father has been working until now, and I work.
18. Therefore the Jews sought the more to kill him, because he not only had broken the Sabbath, but said also that God was his Father, making himself equal with God.
-In John 6:37-40, Jesus said:
37. All that the Father gives me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out.
38. For I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me.
39. And this is the Father's will which hath sent me, that of all which he hath given me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up again at the last day.
40. And this is the will of him that sent me, that every one which sees the Son, and believes on him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day.
-And in John 8:23-24, Jesus said:
23. And he said unto them, Ye are from beneath; I am from above: ye are of this world; I am not of this world.
24. I said therefore unto you, that ye shall die in your sins: for if ye believe not that I am he, ye shall die in your sins.
*Jesus said: “You are from beneath; I am from above: you are of this world; I am not of this world.” Who could say that? -- No one but God!
*My Dad wasn’t ready to walk me through God’s Word that day. But in countless ways over the years, he lived-out his faith in Jesus Christ. And I will be forever grateful for that.
*Christians: We’ve all come up short from time to time.
-Maybe we were distracted.
-Maybe we were afraid we would say the wrong thing.
-Maybe we were just caught off guard.
*But no doubt, we’ve all missed opportunities. I know I have. God wants us to be ready:
-To speak out for Him.
-To live in Christ-like love.
-And even to suffer for the cause of Jesus Christ.
*We need to get ready. -- Let’s ask God to help us right now.
(1) “The Merry Hearts ezine” - Source: Sermons.com illustration - 01122003
(2) Edythe Draper, “Draper's Book of Quotations for the Christian World” - Wheaton: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. 1992: Entries 1208-1211 - Source: Bible Illustrator for windows - Topic: Christianity - Subtopic: Characteristics of - Index: 4139 - Date: 10/1995.10311 - Title: Christianity
(3) “Falwell Confidential” - Date: January 10, 2003 - From: Jerry Falwell - “The Case of the Offensive Candy Canes”