Message: “Longing for the Good Life: Peace and Unity (1 Peter 3:8-12)” from Ben Tellinghuisen

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Ben Tellinghuisen - July 20, 2014

Longing for the Good Life: Peace and Unity (1 Peter 3:8-12)

Transcript: Our passage today, it’s in 1 Peter, chapter 3, verses 8-12 and it’s on page 1295 in your pew Bible. 1 Peter, chapter 3, verses 8-12 – I want to say, welcome and thank you so much for coming to all our visitors and others. I know there are a number of people here supporting those who were baptized and even if you are here and came in just with friends, thank you so much for coming. It’s a pleasure to have you today. Well, 1 Peter 3:8-12 says this: “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 seek 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 on the righteous and His ears are open to their prayer, but the face of the Lord is against those who are evil.” Now, verse 10 about sums up the whole world, doesn’t it? “Whoever desires to love life and see good days,” of course no one would long for a bad life filled with terrible days, right? Many people assume though that you get the good life when you pursue what makes you most happy. What makes you most satisfied and so they simple follow the whims and the passions of their heart which change with age and with the times. When we look at the foundation of the gospel message, the message of the Bible, the message that saves, the message that we heard testified from the waters of baptism this morning, we get to the point where we understand that God, God is living the ultimate good life. God is living the perfect life. He is all good and all holy and He says that you too can have the good life. You just have to be perfect. In Matthew 5:48 Jesus says, “You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect,” and when that begins to sink in, you begin to understand that if being perfect brings about the good life you’re doomed – we all are – damned to be more precise. And yet, we continue to try and find the good life on our own, don’t we? The classic teenage drama, Grease, we see the good life and some lessons about what the world teaches about the good life from that movie or play. And the good life, according to Grease, is falling in love, right? – Meeting your high school sweetheart. Some women actually never get past this – just look at the romance novels on their bookshelves, their iPads, their Kindles. We’re not just talking about young women – women of all ages – they’re obsessed with this. And men too, many men can be hopeless romantics thinking that they’re just going to find satisfaction in the woman of their dreams. From Grease, we also see the good life is getting a sweet ride, right? Finding that thing, that hobby, that object that you just long to have, that you just long to hold and to see and to use, and once you get it you know you’re going to be living the good life – until it rots, breaks, or something new comes about. Well, also from Grease we realize that the good life is equated with close friends, friends that are loyal, always looking out for your best, the Pink Ladies, right? – Friends that look like you, dress like you, think like you, and even talk like you, but as we know from years of experience, friends can come and go and just because someone affirms everything you do doesn’t mean that they’re even really a good friend. Good friends often have to tell you you’re acting like a fool, don’t they? So we’re those who are perpetually trying to find the good life. This is an age old problem, a problem with all of humanity. We look for the good life in all the wrong places. It’s exactly what King Solomon did as well. Solomon was incredibly wise and incredibly wealthy and yet he still fought to find the good life in countless areas other than in God. You see, he had hundreds of wives and concubines, and all they did was turn his heart after idols. The good life was not in passionate lust. Solomon tried to fill his life with stuff, but was unable to find the good life there. Just listen to what he says in Ecclesiastes 2. Ecclesiastes 2:4-6 says this: “I made great works. I’ve built houses and planted vineyards for myself. I made myself gardens and parks and planted them in all kinds of fruit trees. I made myself pools from which to water the forest and the growing trees,” and then he says in verse 8, “I also gathered for myself silver and gold and the treasures of the kings and the provinces. So I became great and surpassed who were before me in Jerusalem. Also, my wisdom remained with me. And whatever my eyes desired I did not keep from them. I kept my heart from no pleasure, for my heart found pleasure in all my toil, and this was my reward for all my toil. Then I considered all that my hands had done and the toil I had expended in doing it, and behold, all was vanity and a striving after wind, and there was nothing to be gained under the sun.” Solomon even tried to find hope and happiness and the good life in alcohol. He says in the beginning of verse 3 of chapter 2, “I search with my heart to cheer my body with wine…” As many do today, using substances to alter their mind, to get them to feel things they’ve never felt, to see things they’ve never seen, thinking these experiences bring about the good life. Well, his conclusion is found in Ecclesiastes 12. Ecclesiastes 12:1 says this: “Remember also your Creator in the days of your youth. Before the evil days come and the years draw near, of which you will say, ‘I have no pleasure in them.’” If you seek the good life on your own, you’re never going to get there. You’re eventually going to say, like Solomon did at the end of his life as he wrote Ecclesiastes, “That was terrible. That was pointless. I wish I would of sought the Lord from the days of my youth.” Sure, there’s the hope of temporary happiness and satisfaction as you pursue the things in this world, but very often that fades quickly as the evil days come and the years pass with no pleasure. The secret then to lasting pleasure in this life is to seek after the Lord. Seek after Him while you are still young. That’s where the good news of the gospel comes in. See, Christians are those who realize that God, and God alone, holds the keys to understanding the good life, and the good life that we try and pursue only results in pain and strained relationships, and if that doesn’t happen, at least eternal punishment. That key to the good life, of course, is our Savior, Jesus Christ. He came as a perfect Man, He lived a truly good life, the life that we could never live, that perfect life that God’s commands of us to live, and there’s a sense in which Jesus Christ lived in our place. He lived the life that we could never live. And not only did He live in our place, He suffered and died in our place. You see, the consequences of our sin and our vain pursuits is eternal death. Since God is absolutely fair, is absolutely just, the punishment for our sin had to go somewhere and it couldn’t go unpunished and so that is why Jesus took all of God’s wrath for your sin. He bore the brunt of God’s anger against your sin on the cross. That’s why Jesus died and was buried, but He didn’t stay dead, did he? He rose again on the third day, showing that death, the ultimate evil, no longer reigns supreme in this life, but that good life, that good life will last for eternity. So, what does God require? Be perfect or trust in Jesus. Trust that He died for you. Trust that He died for you as a substitute. Follow His call. He says, “Stop trying to pursue the good life on your own. Turn from your skewed view of joy, your skewed view of pleasure, what you think is going to bring you satisfaction and follow instead God’s rules for the good life.” Learn to hate the sin that seems to promise pleasure and pursue what is right and truly does promise pleasure. Giving God all the honor and all the respect for doing a mighty work of transformation and change in your life – Paul says it this way in Galatians 2: “I have been crucified with Christ, it is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me, and the life I now live in the flesh, I now live by faith in the Son of God who loved me and gave himself for me.” So what does God require of us? – Simple give up living for ourselves and say, “God, I can’t do this on my own. I need to turn from living for myself and I’m going to follow you because you alone hold the keys to the good life.” When you’re living for God, then and only then, will you have the good life both now and forever. The good life now may include suffering, it may include trials and hardships, hardly what the world describes the good life, but the way we can respond to those trials, those sufferings, will be sweet, be joy filled and indeed be good. This is exactly the fruit I see the Jan Kitzman updates that Dwayne and Joe Bedard so faithfully send our church. Jan, if you don’t know, is a dear saint who’s diagnosed with cancer a number of years ago now, and I love hearing how she is doing. Not because the cancer cell counts are up or she’s received bad news yet again that a treatment didn’t work, but because she continues to give it all to the Lord. She continues to seek to be a witness to her doctors, to her nurses, to her family, she patiently trusts, never cursing God, remembering God and His promises when the hope in this life begins to fade. And yet, this infectious joy and this settled peace has truly made her life now good. I know she would testify to that. So before we even get to our text, I must be clear: your good life is only realized after you stopped looking for what you think will make you happy, and trust in Jesus as your Lord and as your Savior. It is He alone who has promised a good life for all eternity. And after you have turned to Christ, then and only then, do you have the hope of that good life. God helps us to know how to pursue the good life in the here and now in the Word of God. And in our passage specifically, there’s going to be two basic principles that we need to live in order to be at peace with the world and unity within the church and in our families. And those two principles are peace and unity that we need to be pursuing in this life. These verses come on the heels of a lengthy section encouraging Christians to submit to all human authorities. Look in your text of 1 Peter 2:13. 1 Peter 2:13 is the heading of the section that this is a conclusion of and this verse says, “Be subject for the Lord’s sake to every human institution,” and then Peter goes on to say, “You should be subject to the government as supreme. You should be subject to those who have authority over you in your workplace, even if they’re difficult. Wives are to submit to their husbands, even if they’re unbelieving husbands, even if their husbands aren’t the greatest to them.” Why? Because we see in chapter 2, verse 15 that submission is the will of God. It’s what Christ modeled in chapter 2, verses 22-25. It is how the world will see that God is at work with you - your humility, your submission. And so now after you understand that submission in your relationships are God’s designed part of relationships to make them sweet, to make them blessed. Peter wants to make sure that your relationships continue to model a settled piece and a settled unity for everyone to see. So our verses today are like a conclusion to this submission section, and we’ll see four ways to pursue unity and peace in your relationships, four ways to pursue unity and peace in your relationships that will ensure that you are pursuing the good life, both here and for all eternity. Four Ways to Pursue Unity and Peace in your Relationships I) Pursue Character Traits of Unity (v. 8) Well, in verse 8 we see our first way to pursue unity and peace and it’s pursue character traits of unity – Pursue character traits of unity. Of course we understand that submission is a prerequisite to pursuing unity in the church, but there are certain character traits that must be pursued as well. If you’re the family that comes and goes from the church as you please – hardly here, hardly there – and when you are, you slip in and slip out, you don’t talk to anybody, you especially need to understand these points. You have to be present and engage, to view church as a family, don’t you? And that’s really at the center of verse 8 this morning. You see, verse 8 is a poetic – he uses a poetic device called a chiasmus. He uses parallel concepts. The first commanded character trait is to have unity of mind. Well, that’s in parallel with the very last character trait. You look in verse 8 – a humble mind, right? Well, the second one is in parallel with the second to last – you are to have sympathy, well you’re also to have a tender heart. And then at the center is brotherly love and the poetic device of a chiasmus points to brotherly love as the uniting attribute, the uniting characteristic that bonds all of these other traits together. And the word ‘brotherly love’ is a word that you all know – Philadelphia. That’s right, ‘the city of brotherly love.’ I don’t know how brotherly loving it is now, but at least it was originally named that. And it connotes the idea of love within a family. This concept of brotherly love, it’s because of your deep family love that aging parents come to live with their kids, right? –Even if it’s inconvenient. On the other end of life, it’s because of deep family love that allows a mother to wake multiple times in a night and feed and soothe that newborn. It is because of brotherly love that causes siblings to stick up for each other on the playground when you were kids. And the New Testament commandeers this term and applies it to the church. See, the church is to be like a family, a close knit group that cares for each-other’s needs, that knows each other’s needs, that longs to spend time together, that feels deeply for one another. Why? – Because we’re a family. We all love God. There’s no limit to this brotherly love, not just your friends, not just your literal family in the pews next to you. We are to get out of comfort zones and pursue everyone in the church. We are to have that close relationship with them. Sure, some will be like your immediate family and some that sit on the other side of the family will literally be like your second cousins, but regardless, we’re all family here. That’s the idea. And in order to pursue the character traits of brotherly love within this church, we have to first be committed to one another, committed to being with one another, not forsaking the gathering together, prioritizing our meetings together over and above other activities, even over and above other Christian activities that you might do. The more we have fellowship with one another in this church, the deeper of course, then, the deeper we feel towards one another, the more easy it is to feel when you hear of someone who comes down with cancer like that person is in your own family. That goes on to the second character trait and that’s the two parallel traits of sympathy and the tender heart. These words are closely related and both require us to feel another’s pain, or joy as if it were our own. The second word, ‘tender heart,’ literally means ‘tender bowels,’ because in the Greek and the Hebrew mind, the word for ‘emotions’ was literally ‘your bowels.’ We have some carry overs in English when we say, “We have butterflies in our stomach,” right? - Or the upset stomach that occurs when you’re nervous – the psychosomatic symptoms that occur. The point is, because we are family we feel as family. We feel the gut-wrenching loss of a child who dies as if we were the father, we were the brother, the sister, the aunt, the uncle. We feel the pure joy of God healing a sick loved one, as we did when Amy has been so miraculously healed. Or, the sweet satisfaction of a dear brother or sister finally finds a job after months and months of searching. Our emotions are united as if we were family. We have sympathy and we have a tender heart. Well, another character trait that we are to pursue unity in the church is unity of mind and humble mind. It is the first and the last character trait that he mentions in verse 8. Literally here, we are to be one minded. That is what unity of mind is, an attitude that would make separation or division absolutely unthinkable. Not that every individual thinks exactly the same, but there is a unity of purpose in the church – a unity in our love for our Savior. And separation over secondary issues is just out of the question. So yeah, as important as the color of the carpet is, it isn’t worth leaving the church over. There’s grace and charity extended when others don’t think the same, and great humility as we are called to submit to various authorities that God puts in our lives, even within the church. That’s why humility is also key for unity – having a humble heart. Well the opposite of humility is of course, pride. And at the center of disunity in a home or in a church, very often, is pride. I remember back to one of the first arguments of my marriage were, “Where do you keep the dish gloves?” I mean come on, why is that important? I don’t really know, but we both thought it was and pride would dictate that you would know better and that you knew exactly where those dish gloves needed to go and so you’re going to argue to that and you are going to explain to your wife, or she was going to explain to me, why this is so important. That’s pride. Prides says that my reasons are always better, even if it’s silly. And if left unchecked, this simple, inconsequential instances of pride, can rip even the closest relationships apart – within your family or in a church. You also notice that in both of these character traits, have unity of mind and a humble mind, ‘mind’ is in both of them. This is something you have to be aware of, that you have to think about. You see, if you just simply let your bowels, your emotions, or your feelings rule whether or not you stay unified in a relationship you’re sunk, because your emotions go way high and way low. Someone does something against you and you’re the most bitter, angry person you could ever be, and someone is sweet and kind to you, you think, “Oh, I love that person.” We can’t have our emotions rule these relationships, we have to be committed and that’s why ‘mind’ is used here – unity of mind, a humble mind – it’s a stoic understanding of, “Look, I got to be committed no matter what.” It’s a mindset that you have to have, even if your emotions don’t line up. Whether it’s a marriage or church family, it requires us not to listen to our feelings but intellectually stay committed no matter what. Now it’s interesting that this is immediately following 7 verses that revealed keys to a good marriage, if you’ve been here the last two weeks. You’ve understand that we talked about keys to a good marriage and all of a sudden it says, “Finally all of you, have unity of mind, sympathy, brotherly love, a tender heart, and a humble mind.” You think this applies to our marriage as well? – I’d say so. Want you marriage to last? – Be committed to having it last, to feeling deeply for one another, and to loving one another as family. Pursue this unity in all of your relationships, marriage, in your families, in your church, even faithful Christians outside of the church. We should be at peace with every brother in Christ. But that’s not where Peter stops, is it? He continues that we are to have peace even with our enemies. And so we see in verse 9 that we are to run from revenge. II) Run from Revenge (v. 9) Run from revenge. It’s a second way that we are to pursue unity and peace. Run from revenge. Verse 9 says this: “Do not repay evil for evil, or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary, bless. For this you were called that you may obtain a blessing.” So this first command here is, “Do not repay evil for evil.” ‘Evil’ is just the most general term for sin. It’s all encompassing. Someone that does something bad to you – it could be anything – could be at work, could be an action, don’t do it back. ‘Reviling for reviling’ is a little bit more nuance of a term. This is specifically speaking of verbal insults – slander, spreading lies, or half-truths – it is speech that is designed to cut, to hurt, to break someone down, and frankly that is going to happen in your life. You are going to be reviled and we are commanded here specifically to not revile in return. Some people are actually pretty good at this, aren’t they? We may have learned it from a young age as parents constantly berate and belittle children. Let me tell you as a parent of a three year old, it is actually rather easy to do this, as you almost expect your child to act mature all the time. I know my son knows not to pick up his food and [raise it up and drop it in his mouth] at the dinner table. And yet he always seems to do that every couple of days, and of course I remind him and say, “Eli, you can’t do that. That’s not how we eat. You need to eat like a polite boy.” But it’s also easy to berate him for not remembering; “What are you thinking? How could you do that again, I told you 20 times!” He’s 3. I’m going to need to do it 20 more times or more. And as they get older, this temptation to berate your children doesn’t go away, does it? As a teacher, I’ve seen parents berate their kids for simple accidents – dropping a drink, dropping their lunch. I’ve seen parents berate their kids for getting bad grades. See, we need to be those who do not exasperate our children and demonstrate much grace, much love, and patience to God’s most precious gifts that He’s given to us. We also are those who recognize that we all have the tendency to bite back. We all have a tendency to bite back when we’ve been wronged on purpose, or simply inconvenience, not just with your children, but this can be especially difficult when another adult insults you or does something terrible against you. How easy it is to plot against them, or simply lash back, or stew in the hot mess of your own anger, your own self-pity and the putrid and vile hate that wells within because you think someone has wronged you. That’s what we do. So listen, too often we use our own personal suffering as an excuse for a sinful response, and what does Peter tell us? “Do not repay evil for evil or reviling for reviling.” We need to recognize this tendency and slay your own sinful heart within. Being sinned against is terrible, yes, but it’s never a license to further respond in sin. Yet, we are those who naturally seek revenge. May it never be. He continues, “But on the contrary, bless, for to this you were called.” You see, we are to be like Christ. 1 Peter 2:23 says this – you can look across the column: “When He was reviled,” speaking of Jesus, “He did not revile in return. When He suffered He did not threaten, but continued to entrust Himself to Him who judges justly.” We are those who need to continue to trust that God is in control of our lives. We need to be those who do not take vengeance into our own hands. This is also what Jesus taught in Luke, chapter 6, verse 28. Luke 6:28-29, Jesus says this: “Bless those who curse you, and 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.” That’s exactly what Paul taught. In Romans 12:17 he says, “Do not repay anyone evil for evil.” In 1 Thessalonians 5:15 Paul wrote, “Make sure that nobody pays back wrong for wrong.” And so this forsaking of revenge and actually seeking to bless your enemies is a common, very common, Biblical teaching. That’s why Peter says, “To this you were called” ‘This,’ of course, is this righteous living, specifically brotherly love, unity, and the rejection of revenge. This is what you, Christian, have been called to live. God calls us to live according to His ways. This is what proves that you are truly saved, that you want to actually live the good life. If you do want that good life, then you must respond to the gospel the way God tells you to respond to the gospel, and that means giving up revenge, giving up selfishness, and instead pursuing Christ-likeness, blessing those who persecute you. Well, how can we bless? How practically do we bless those who persecute us? Well, the first way that we can do that is we can love our enemies. Remember Luke, chapter 6? We read verse 27 (Luke 6:27) says this, “But I say to you who hear, love your enemies, do good to those who hate you.” And then he says again in (Luke 6:32-33) 32 and 33, “If you love those who love you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them and if you do good to those who do good to you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners do the same.” And then in verse 35, “But love your enemies and do good and lend expecting nothing in return and your reward will be great and you’ll be sons of the most High.” Regardless of what is done to you, do not harbor anger. Instead, try and visible express love to those who have wronged you in some way. Do everything you can to seek and desire their wellbeing. Love your enemies. Well, another practical way that we can bless those who persecute us is that we can pray for their salvation if they’re unbelievers. Luke 6:28 again says, “Bless those who curse you and pray for those who abuse you.” What greater love is there that you can show then to plead with God for your own worst enemies, that He might make them in a right relationship with Himself – that He might forgive their sins. Now, if a believing brother offends you or is the one who is reviling you or committing evil against you, you need to pray for God to convict that believing brother of sin, and in some cases, when you have observed very clear sin, even pray for courage to gently, lovingly, and graciously confront that believer in sin. Point it out to them. Say, “What you did was terrible. That’s not what Christians would normally do.” But do so in a gentle and loving way. It’s an incredibly loving thing to do to confront someone to point out sin in a gentle way, and when you do, the Word of God says you win your brother. Another way that we can practically bless is to be thankful for our enemies. Be thankful for them. There is inherent in the concept of blessing – thanksgiving. What do you do when you bow your heads to bless the food? – You’re thanking God for the food that He’s given you. So remember, trials, even persecution, are God’s instruments for your good and your growth as a Christian and so you want to bless your enemies. Thank God for them, even though – and can be – very painful. Well, another practical way that we can bless our enemies is we can speak well of them. Obviously if you love, you pray for them and you are thankful for your enemies, you are not going to be talking about their sin. You’re not going to be grumbling about their sin. How easy is it for you to complain about sin that’s been sinned against you, especially to your spouse, especially to your loved ones, right? Because [in your] family unit, you know, you understand it stays within the family and you talk about that, you talk about how terrible this person was to you and you complain, you grumble, and you talk about their sin. No, don’t divulge that. Speak well of them. Don’t advertise how you’ve been hurt. Learn to forgive. That really is how we can summarize all of these application points – forgive. Forgive your enemies. Forgive those who persecute you. Colossians 3:13 says it this way: “We should bear with one another and if one has a complaint against another, we should be forgiving each other as the Lord has forgiven you,” so you must also forgive. So when we live, constantly forsaking revenge, even trying to bless our enemies, look at the result at the end of verse 9 – “That you may obtain a blessing.” This is that eternal, never fading good life that we talk so much about. This eternal blessing here, your right response to those who slander, persecute you, prove that you will receive this eternal blessing. But the context also emphasizes that there will be blessings right now as well. Look at verse 12, it says, “For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous and His ears are open to their prayers.” That, of course, happens right now. [It] doesn’t mean that all of life will be free of trials, that you will get a blessing in this life that means you will get lots of money, that everything that you ever, ever thought that you wanted; no, it means that you might have suffering, you may have trials; those things are promised. It simply means that God will allow your life to be blessed, even in the midst of suffering and trials and persecution. Well, Grudem paraphrased the argument in these verses in this way and I thought it was very helpful: he says, as a Christian, “you have been called to live a righteous life… including not returning evil for evil… in order that by this righteous living you may obtain God’s blessing on your life. For in the Psalms God also promises blessings to those who live righteously,” because that’s exactly where Peter goes next. He quotes in verses 10-12, Psalm 34:12-16, an almost exact quote of the Septuagint of the Greek translation of the Old Testament here. It’s very important for us to recognize too that Peter uses Scripture to interpret Scripture. It’s really an important concept that we use, even as we study the Word of God on our own. Well, as we look at verses 10 and 11, we’ll see another way to pursue unity and peace, and that’s to tame the tongue. III) Tame the Tongue (vv. 10-11) Tame the tongue. He says, “For whoever desires to love life and see good days,” we already understand that this is really every human’s desire, to love life and to see good days, and we’ve already discussed that ultimately this means that you must understand and respond to the gospel message. Once you’re a Christian though, the Psalmist focuses on the need to tame the tongue. He says, “If you desire to love life and see good days, let him keep his tongue from evil and his lips from speaking deceit.” We know from many passages from the Word of God that the tongue is essentially a doorway into the heart. It reveals what’s within. And so the man that is able to tame the tongue, never utter any evil nor let one untrue word one out of his mouth – that man is a perfect man. That’s what James 3:2-5 says. And then it also says that – it’s one book back, if you want to look with me you can, one book to your left; James 3:2-5. James writes this: “For we all stumble in many ways, and if anyone does not stumble in what he says, he is a perfect man, able also to bridle his whole body. If we put bits into the mouths of horse so that they obey us, we guide their whole bodies as well. Look at the ships also: Though they are so large and driven by strong winds, they are guided by a very small rudder wherever the will of the pilot directs. So also the tongue is a small member, yet it boasts of great things.” Such a small part of the body can be so instrumental in revealing sin and even directing the rest of our lives – like a ships rudder. And yet, it is unnatural for the tongue to be involved in so much evil and the consequences are indeed painful when we do not tame our tongue. The more lies we say to cover up sin, the more slander, the more anxieties that we talk about, the harder life becomes, doesn’t it? When you tell a lie, what generally happens? You get more anxious, you hope no one finds out, begin apt to tell more lies to cover up that one lie, and you begin worrying, you begin to build yourself, if it’s a big lie, on a whole scheme of lies and you have to scheme and plan and think all night long – just hope that the truth doesn’t get out. And so life is always so much easier, so much better when you aren’t speaking lies and when you aren’t speaking evil. You see, “whoever desires to love life and see good days, let him keep his tongue from evil and his lips from speaking deceit.” There he reiterates the same truth in the beginning of verse 11 as well, as the psalmist writes, “Let him turn away from and do good.” Stop speaking lies and speak the truth. As you orient your life towards Christ, you turn away from all sorts of evil and especially evils of the tongue and as you do you seek peace and pursue it. That’s exactly what he says in the end of verse 11: “Let him speak peace and let him pursue it.” You not only have to be aware that you need to change, that you need to be the one who needs to tame your tongue, that you need to keep a guard on your tongue, you aren’t the one who just simply is aware that you should be at peace with other brothers; no, you need to be aware of it and pursue it. That’s why he gives two commands there: seek it and pursue peace. Once you see how to be at peace, you got to pursue peace. The Christian life isn’t simply a ‘sit back and let god;’ no, it’s hard work. It’s a vigorous pursuit of what is glorifying to God. Naturally if you want to be at peace in your relationships, you’ve got to first learn to tame your tongue. David wrote Psalm 34 after he had been anointed king, yet was on the run from Saul who was trying to kill him. If you know David’s life, you’re very familiar with his story and in spite of Saul trying to kill David, David with his tongue constantly pursued peace with Saul. He constantly said, “I would never lay a hand on the Lord’s anointed.” Even if Saul slandered David and sought his life, David continued to seek peace. He pursued it. There were even moments when David’s pursuit of peace and taming of tongue paid dividends as Saul recognized David’s righteousness and actually gave up trying to kill him. There were two opportunities David had to kill Saul, if you remember, and on the second time he took Saul’s spear and water pitcher from where he slept, indicating that he had been right over Saul and could of killed him, and he goes away. And here’s what Saul’s response to David is, in 1 Samuel 26:21: “Then Saul said, ‘I have sinned. Return, my son David, for I will no more do you harm because my life was precious in your eyes this day. Behold, I have acted foolishly and have made a great mistake.” And we see the principle that the Lord rewards every man for his righteousness. And then Saul says again to David, “Blessed be you, my son David. You will do many things and succeed in them.” You see here, David’s pursuit of peace, even when Saul was trying to kill him, resulted in a peaceful relationship there. Saul gave up trying to kill him. He even praised David for his righteousness. Again, it started all with his tongue. David refused to even to speak evil against Saul, yet as you know, he had ample reason to speak evil against Saul; the man was insane. You want a peaceful relationship and a good life? Tame the tongue. IV) Remember the Lord Blesses and Disciplines (v. 12) Well, fourth we also will see that we need to remember that the Lord blesses and disciplines. We see this in verse 12. The Lord blesses and the Lord disciplines. The psalmist writes (David writes), “For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, and his ears are open to their praise.” This phrase that is speaking of God’s eyes being on the righteous, it was used frequently in the Old Testament, not to scare us to death thinking that God watches everything, but to remember us that God is omniscient, that He is omnipresent, and for those in a right relationship with God, that is extremely comforting. It’s like knowing a team of police officers are escorting you through the roughest part of Detroit. It’s comforting to know that God is with us as we walk through this difficult life. Look at the blessing then. What does God promise? His ears are open to their prayers. ‘Prayers’ here is specifically petitions or requests for help, strength to resist temptations, the words to say to a dying friend, the words to say to an unsaved co-worker. See, God promises to have an ear bent towards those that are His own. Conversely, God never promises to answer prayers, nor the requests, nor the petitions of those who are not His children. Those who think they are finding the good life on their own, pursuing the passions of their hearts, God does not have His ear toward them. In fact, in the end of verse 12 we see this: “But the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.” The ‘Face of the Lord’ in the Old Testament was often used to describe ‘coming before God as a judge’ who’s wrath is about to pour out against those who reject Him. So practically speaking, this means that God often lets people wallow in their sin. If you’re going to seek the good life on how you want to seek the good life, He’s going to let you do it. He’s going to let you drown in the tumultuous ways of like as the effects of seeking the good life catch up to you in the end. The band Weezer wrote a song, “The Good Life,” in 1996. And they describe the good life as the party life; a life of drunkenness and debauchery. And as they write the song, they are looking back wistfully at the good life they once had lived compared to the hard life they now face. And here’s what they wrote: “When I look in the mirror, I can’t believe what I see. Tell me, who’s that funky dude staring back at me? Broken, beaten down, can’t even get around without an old man cane – I fall and hit the ground, shivering in the cold, I’m bitter and alone.” But instead of recognizing the folly of living a life of sin, instead of recognizing the hand of God’s judgment upon them, they confess that they just want to do it more. This of course brings out, “I don’t want to be an old man anymore. It’s time to go back to the good life.” Brothers and sisters, this is not what God wants for our lives, but He will let you live your life and let you continue to allow it spiral out of control all the way to hell if you don’t wake up, if you don’t see the good life His way. And so to those here who may not be Christians, do not let another day pass where you seek the pitiful life, thinking somehow your pleasure in this life will last for eternity. No, you need to recognize who God is, His perfect standard that we fall short of, and His way of escape that He has given you in Jesus, and turn to follow Him, serving Him as your Lord and your God, rejecting the good life according to your passions and following the good life as God instructs. To the believer, you and I are far from perfect and we will still need to pursue this good life and the resulting peace and unity that God brings to our relationships. Let us pursue this peace and unity as we endeavor to tame the tongue, as we endeavor to run from revenge, and remember that God bless us when we do and follow Him. Let us remember these things this morning.

Scripture References: 1 Peter 3:8-12

From Series: "1 Peter: Standing Firm in this Shaky Life"

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