“Finally, be ye all of one mind, having compassion one of another, love as brethren, be pitiful, be courteous: Not rendering evil for evil, or railing for railing: but contrariwise blessing; knowing that ye are thereunto called, that ye should inherit a blessing. For he that will love life, and see good days, let him refrain his tongue from evil, and his lips that they speak no guile: Let him eschew evil, and do good; let him seek peace, and ensue it. For the eyes of the Lord are over the righteous, and his ears are open unto their prayers: but the face of the Lord is against them that do evil” (1Pe 3:8-12).
Peter is here laying out for the church practical pointers for how we can show the world the distinction between them and us by how we treat one another. We exist in a community of faith. In this community we learn to love, encourage and support one another as our Lord would have us to.
The apostle exhorts the saints to begin with unity of mind. This is foundational. We who made up the church are traveling on the appointed way to heaven, and unity in mind, in doctrine and practice is paramount.
Saints recognise and acknowledge one another as brothers and sisters in Christ. We share in the common salvation (Jude 3); we have obtained a faith of equal standing with the apostles by the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ (2Pe 1:1).
Divisions will destroy any congregation. Paul beseeched the church at Corinth to be united.
“Now I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment” (1Co 1:10).
Unity is what the Lord would have for all who are called by His name.
“Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word; That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me” (John 17:20-21).
With unity in place compassion naturally follows. We are aware that we were not always saints. There was a time when we were sinners, enemies of God and His Christ, men and women under the wrath of God. But the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people (Tit 2:11), and we are saved by the power of the gospel of Christ (Rom 1:16).
Even now, as we make our way back to our home with the Lord, we sometimes stagger and stumble along. When we see brethren sin, instead of ostracizing them and adopt an attitude of condemnation, we ought to extend compassion to the weak and seek to restore them to the faith, all the while taking heed that we do not ourselves give in to temptations.
“Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted. Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ” (Gal 6:1-2).
“Brethren, if any of you do err from the truth, and one convert him; Let him know, that he which converteth the sinner from the error of his way shall save a soul from death, and shall hide a multitude of sins” (Jas 5:19-20).
Love is what binds us together. This is holy love, not love without a divine standard. We are made holy and set apart by the word of God (John 17:17). love, in other words, is based upon the firm foundation of the word.
“Owe no man any thing, but to love one another: for he that lovethanother hath fulfilled the law” (Rom 13:8). We love one another as brethren because the Lord loves us and has redeemed us (Tit 2:14). The Father has adopted us into His family as His children (Eph 1:5).
“For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ” (Gal 3:26-27).
It is said that familiarity breeds contempt. But let this not be so in the church of the firstborn (Heb 12:23). Peter wants us to be “tenderhearted, humble-minded”; to be friendly and kind.
Even when a brother or sister should offend or hurt us, we must not seek retribution. “Not rendering evil for evil, or railing for railing.” this is the very opposite of compassion and brotherly love. Instead of getting back at the offender, we are to bless that we may obtain a blessing.
James says that “the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity: so is the tongue among our members, that it defileth the whole body, and setteth on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire of hell” (Jas 3:6).Let us then take special care to keep our tongue from evil and our lips from speaking deceit.
Paul instructs us: “Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person” (Col 4:6 ESV).
Saints are peace makers and do-gooders. We are to actively pursue peace. “If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all” (Rom 12:18 ESV). Likewise, we seek opportunities to administer benevolence on those in need.
“As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith” (Gal 6:10).
May God help us as His children to make a distinction in this sinful world, to shed the light of God in darkness.