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In this blog, there will be a variety of material: thoughts on Bible books, book reviews, historical characters, aspects of Scottish church history and other things.

Friday, 2 May 2014

Receiving a blessing (1 Peter 3:9-12)

So we are called to pray for others and if we are faithful in doing so, we will obtain a blessing. The blessing is described in verse 10, at the beginning of Peter’s quotation of some verses from Psalm 34 – it is to love life and to see good days. What does Peter mean when he uses these words?

He cannot mean an easy life because he has already warned his readers that they will face trouble because of their faith. So he must mean that they can have a life that can be classified as good days even although they may be facing difficulties in providence. He is encouraging his readers by reminding them that their spiritual happiness does not depend on their surroundings, but it does depend on how they react to their surroundings. 

In the words he cites from Psalm 34, Peter mentions three requirements that his readers must implement. First, they have to be very careful with the use that they make of their tongues. We are all familiar with biblical warnings about inappropriate speech. Our tongues can be used to say good things or bad things, and obviously Peter wants us to refrain from wrong speech. Second, our lives must be marked by good behaviour, even if evil behaviour is all around us. I suppose we can summarise good behaviour as loving obedience to God’s commandments. Third, we must be dedicated to making peace whether in the church or among others in society; it is not appropriate behaviour for a Christian to contribute to the absence of peace in a church or in a community. 

Why does Peter stress those three requirements of truthful speaking, good behaviour and pursuit of peace? He answers the question himself in verse 12: ‘For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, and his ears are open to their prayer.’ As long as they live in that manner (righteous), the Lord will answer their prayers, and the result will be that they will love life and see good days. What more could a Christian want in life in addition to ongoing answers to prayer. Their experience will be the opposite of those who practice evil. No matter what their intentions are, the Lord will ensure that they will not love life or see good days. What a sad life – to experience God’s working against them in all they do! 

Of course, if we were to judge their circumstances without the aid of God’s Word we would conclude that the lives of Peter’s readers were miserable and liable to get even worse. Yet Peter assures them that prayer can make a huge difference to them in their difficult circumstances, however strong the opposition might grow. Providence was hard, yet it was also a divinely-given opportunity for prayer for one another and for one’s opponents.

Through thoughtful, sympathetic and humble prayer, God’s spiritual blessings could be known. As long as they used their tongues correctly, lived according to God’s commandments, and pursued a life of peace, they would know God’s blessing on their souls and others would begin to follow the Lord as well. This is why they were so joyful. Although becoming followers of Jesus had resulted in problems for them, the spiritual good they also received more than made up for the suffering they were experiencing. And that spiritual good was connected to healthy prayer lives. 


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