Sermon Notes & References

“Gentleness”

1 Peter 3:8-12

Sunday, July 21, 2019

8 To sum up: let everyone be united in mind, sympathetic, loving as brothers, full of pity, lowly in mind; 9 not returning hurt for hurt received, nor verbal abuse for abuse but rather blessing, knowing that to this end you were called in order that you should take possession of blessing. 10 For, ‘he who desires to love life and to see good days, let him stop his tongue from hurtfulness and his lips from speaking deceit; 11 let him lean back away from hurtfulness and let him do goodness, let him seek peace and pursue it; because the eyes of the Lord are upon the righteous and His ears unto their supplications, but the face of the Lord is against those doing hurt.’      (RGH)

A. Our Sermon Title

    1. “Gentlemen”

    2. Representing Our Family

B. Living Love                                                         Verses 8-9

    1. Some Do’s (v 8) Footnote

    2. Some Don’ts (v 9a) Footnote

    3. A Helpful Reminder (v 9b)

C. Loving Life                                                      Verses 10-12 Footnote

    1. A Surprising Objective (v 10a) Footnote

    2. Three Facets of This Goal

        a. Our Words (v 10b) Footnote

        b. Our Deeds (v 11a)

        c. Our Attitudes (v 11b) Footnote

    3. A Helpful Reminder (v 12)


Endnote  1 Peter 3:8-12. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  “Gentleness”

 

A. Our Sermon Title

    1. “Gentlemen”

        a. As we read the verses of the passage we are considering today

            (A)    you may have wondered at the title

            (B)    where is ‘gentleness’ mentioned in those verses

            (C)   and, as far as I know, the word is not used in any translation of these verses

            (D)   well, there is a funny association of ideas in the English language with this word

        b. it comes out of the classes of British society in years gone by

            (A)    that the term ‘gentlemen’ was used for men of the upper classes

            (B)    it used to mean anyone above the rank of peasant, or tradesman

            (C)   it denoted a man of gentle or good birth; gentlewoman, a woman

            (D)   and was presumed to describe a person with politeness of manners, gentleness, and showing, as the term was, ‘good breeding’

        c. which has always struck me as funny

            (A)    as though a person were regarded as a horse, dog or cat

            (B)    but the thought was that family background was important

            (C)   one did not act in a way that disgraced the family

 

    2. Representing Our Family

        a. we who are believers in the Lord Jesus Christ

            (A)    have become thereby members together of a great family

            (B)    having God as our Heavenly father

            (C)   and joined together with spiritual brothers and sisters

        b. this passage in 1 Peter lays out some spiritual ‘gentlemen’ qualities

            (A)    a sample of do’s and don’t to guide us

            (B)    describing the gentleness for Christian living

            (C)   so that we do not act in a way that disgraces this family

 

B. Living Love                                                         Verses 8-9

    1. Some Do’s (v 8)

        a. To sum up, let all be harmonious, sympathetic, brotherly, kindhearted, and humble in spirit;

        b. the first words of this verse are an idiom that is frequently rendered, ‘finally’, but Peter is not even half way through this letter yet

            (A)    so a more literal translation is in order

            (B)    something along the line of ‘here’s the result so far’

            (C)   the answer to the question, ‘What should be learned from what has been taught thus far?’

                 (1)    that Christians are pilgrims in a foreign land

                 (2)    that we have been redeemed by the precious blood of Jesus

                 (3)    that we are being built up into God’s temple

                 (4)    the various instructions given to servants, wives, husbands

        c. call for us to follow a gentleness of life for the reputation of Jesus Christ

            (A)    so that we have this list before us for every believer

            (B)    harmonious: literally, ‘having sameness of mind’

                 (1)    … standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel;” (Philippians 1:27)

                 (2)    not like mindless fans cheering for a team, but rather in unity as provided by the indwelling Holy Spirit

            (C)   sympathetic: the Greek word is our word: sharing feelings

            (D)   brotherly: family love for our brothers & sisters in Jesus Christ

            (E)    kindhearted: (‘bowels’) emotionally caring so that it even hurts

            (F)    humble in spirit: Awana memory verses: “Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind let each of you regard one another as more important than himself;” (Philippians 2:3)

 

    2. Some Don’ts (v 9a)

        a. not returning evil for evil, or insult for insult, but giving a blessing instead; …

        b. now, we Christians often equate the term evil with unbelievers, and the term righteous with believers, missing the Bible’s message for us

            (A)    now it is true that the word ‘evil’ here can mean wickedness, but it also has other common meanings: hurt, harm, injure, for example

            (B)    while, on the other hand, though ‘righteous’ may have reference to the imputed righteousness of Jesus Christ received by faith, it often refers instead to our practice: do we act in a right way?

            (C)   so, in the verses before us, including those quoted later, it is the matter of practice that is in view rather than our spiritual position through faith in Jesus Christ

        c. the first subject is vengeance

            (A)    as Christians, the Holy Spirit’s work is not yet complete in us

            (B)    so, we can fall very easily into the pit of anger, and the desire comes unbidden into our minds, ‘I’ll get even, no matter how!’

            (C)   whether our feeling are hurt or we suffer real injury, we conclude that this was a willful act against us and respond accordingly

        d. the second subject is harsh words

            (A)    when we were children we chanted, ‘sticks and stones may break my bones but names will never hurt me’ ... but they did

            (B)    and when we return such reviling, we intend to hurt

        e. when I react in these ways,

            (A)    instead of following our Saviour’s teaching in the sermon on the mount: “But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you,” (Matthew 5:44 NKJV)

            (B)    if to an unbeliever, I damage the testimony to Jesus Christ

            (C)   if to a fellow believer, I am acting in an unbrotherly fashion

            (D)   and in either case bring shame to the family of God

 

    3. A Helpful Reminder (v 9b)

        a. … but giving a blessing instead; for you were called for the very purpose that you might inherit a blessing.

        b. this should help in relationship to unbelievers

            (A)    why? the remembrance of what God has, in His grace done for us

                 (1)    in the counsels of eternity before the world was

                 (2)    His plan that brought salvation to mankind through Christ

                 (3)    that by the illumination of His Holy Spirit we heard the word and hearkened to it

                 (4)    by that self-same Spirit, being convicted, we came to know His salvation and all of its attendant blessings

            (B)    so that we may realize when hurt or reviled by an unbeliever

                 (1)    that ‘there but for the grace of God am I’

                 (2)    and desire to share the love of Christ

                 (3)    if they will not heed what we say

                 (4)    they may be won by our actions

        c. and help even more with believers!

            (A)    for if there should rise up contention between me and a Christian

            (B)    we should be humbled by this fact

            (C)   that the Jesus Christ, whose name I profess to follow

            (D)   likewise died for him or her

            (E)    for our mutual blessing in this life, and,

            (F)    in the life to come that I shall be sharing that eternal blessing with this brother or sister – fighting now is a fine way to start it!

 

C. Loving Life                                                        Verses 10-12

    1. A Surprising Objective (v 10a)

        a. For,” Let him who means to love life and see good days …”

        b. From an OT viewpoint, and Peter is quoting from Psalm 34

            (A)    the preceding verses to which we read earlier in the service

            (B)    the promise of blessing in the current life is not an unnatural one

            (C)   but it is one which we as Christians have often super-spiritualised

                 (1)    delaying until heaven the receipt of all of God’s blessing

                 (2)    because we know that in this world we shall have tribulation

                 (3)    but that is a very one-sided view of Scripture

                     (a)    the sermon on the mount, Christ’s kingdom manifesto

                     (b)    begins with the beatitudes, the blessing to His citizens

                     (c)    which are, it is true, the reverse of the world’s ideas

                     (d)    but are very real reasons for our joy and happiness

            (D)   rather we find in these verses the proclamation by God

                 (1)    that His intent in salvation is our enjoyment in Him in the now

                 (2)    for when we are blessed, we have this reminder, “Instruct those who are rich in this present world not to be conceited or to fix their hope on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly supplies us with all things to enjoy.” (1 Timothy 6:17 NAS)

        c. physical, as well as spiritual life, is a wonderful gift from God

            (A)    and how much more to the person who has both

            (B)    who has an eternal purpose and mission in this life

            (C)   and the anticipation of something far richer beyond it

        d. Alfred Barnes points out some blessings only available in this life:

            (A)    being able to labour for the salvation of others

            (B)    overcoming Satan & the world as a witness to Christ’s power

            (C)   being still able to pray for their salvation

            (D)   contributing financially to the spread of the gospel as His stewards

            (E)    serving mankind for Christ with our bodies and abilities

            (F)    for which reason the Scriptures encourage us to be ‘redeeming the time because the days are evil.’ (Galatians 5:16; v Colossians 4:5)

 

    2. Three Facets of This Goal

        a. Our Words (v 10b)

            (A)    Let him … refrain his tongue from evil and his lips from speaking guile. …

            (B)    in this, as in the previous verse, we could take Christ’s example

                 (1)    “and while being reviled, He did not revile in return; while suffering, He uttered no threats, but kept entrusting [Himself] to Him who judges righteously;” (1 Peter 2:23 NAS)

                 (2)    as well as His words previously quoted before, Matthew 5:44

            (C)   It is James who warns us – and how rightly! – about the need to control our tongues

                 (1)    “for the anger of man does not achieve the righteousness of God.” (James 1:20 NAS)

                 (2)    “So also the tongue is a small part of the body, and [yet] it boasts of great things. Behold, how great a forest is set aflame by such a small fire!” (James 3:5 NAS)

            (D)   so guard, by the help of the Holy Spirit within, your tongue

        b. Our Deeds (v 11a)

            (A)    “… and let him turn away from evil and do good; …”

            (B)    now it becomes clear that these words are for the people of God

                 (1)    that was true when David wrote them in the first place – the people of Israel needed to hear them – even David himself

                 (2)    now, the Christian church which is the new Israel, comprised of Jew and Gentile, still has need to hear them

            (C)   remembering, that evil in this context, are those actions as we have already mentioned, that hurt, harm or injure others

            (D)   while the good are those which strengthen, encourage and help

        c. Our Attitudes (v 11b

            (A)    “… let him seek peace and pursue it. …”

            (B)    but, whether words or deeds, these stem from our underlying attitude – what are our thoughts towards others?

                 (1)    is it to honour all men? (1 Peter 2:17)

                 (2)    is it to show like-mindedness? Sympathy? Brother-love?

                 (3)    or the thirst for vengeance and returning tit-for-tat of verse 9?

            (C)   Jesus’ words on the mount come to us here:

                 (1)    “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.” (Matthew 5:9 NAS)

                 (2)    sons of God; children of God; members of the family of God?

                 (3)    bearing the family likeness of the One who came into the world to establish peace: “14 For He Himself is our peace, who made both [groups into] one, and broke down the barrier of the dividing wall, … thus establishing peace,” (Ephesians 2:14-15 NAS)

            (D)   ‘how am I doing?’, let us ask

                 (1)    am I upholding the family example?

                 (2)    or am I shaming the family ... and the cross of Jesus Christ?

 

    3. A Helpful Reminder (v 12)

        a. “… for the eyes of the Lord are upon the righteous, and his ears attend to their prayer, but the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.”

        b. this by way of conclusion

            (A)    God sees all that we are saying, doing, thinking

            (B)    whether it be good – for others’ benefit

            (C)   or it be evil – causing them hurt and harm

        c. and as a further reminder, here is the chorus of a song written by a group called the Jubilee Singers back in the late 1800's.

My Lord is writing, my Lord is writing

My Lord is writing, he's writing all the time

He sees all you do, he hears all you say,

My Lord is writing all the time. Endnote

        d. let us take that thought with us as we sing our closing hymn.