The story goes: A wealthy man took a journey carrying a great treasure. A thief joined him to steal the treasure. But the rich man was wise enough to be careful of newfound friends. At night, they stopped at an inn. The rich man let the thief bathe first. Then he hid the treasure under the thief’s pillow. As the rich man bathed, the thief searched for that treasure in vain. He finally gave up. As he departed, the rich man told him, “The treasure was closer than you thought.”
This is a sad parable of how many Christians seek to obtain a blessing. In far too many instances, our own search for treasure and blessings is no different than walking the face of the planet, to search the world for one proverbial needle in a field of a thousand, thousand-mile-high haystacks when we only need to look directly in front of our eyes and trust without question that which we first see without making any effort at all. God is always in front of us and around us too.
1 Peter 3:8-12 NKJV
Called to Blessing
8 Finally, all of you be of one mind, having compassion for one another; love as brothers, be tenderhearted, be [a]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. 10 For
“He who would love life
And see good days,
Let him [b]refrain his tongue from evil,
And his lips from speaking deceit.
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.”
The Word of God for the Children of God. Gloria! In Excelsis Deo! Alleluia! Amen.
1 Peter 3:8-12 is a needed reminder that the blessed life is closer than you think if you are a Christian. These verses are transitional. They link what Peter has said about Christian submission and what he will say about Christian suffering.
The themes of submission and suffering acknowledge that following Jesus does not ever guarantee an easy life. But that narrow gate and hard way lead to life.
The process of a Christian “growing up” (maturity) can be painful. There are ups and downs, twists and turns, “forks in the road” along the way, and from time to time, we trip and skin a knee or bloody a nose from falling on our faces.
We are summoned! We are exhorted! We are covenanted, as children of God who are born-again in Christ, towards purity of heart, the pursuit of peace, compassion, mercy, and godly living… and yet this epistle is written during a time of severe suffering and increasingly intense Christian persecution.
Peter cautioned the Church that in the midst of this heightened hatred for God and escalating animosity towards those that are His, we are to maintain a clear conscience in thought, word, and deed, and to endure the inevitable suffering, with a dignified and nurturing and mature and maturing, Christ-like courage.
Peter reached back into the book of Psalms to endorse his directive, and to demonstrate that repaying evil with good comes from the very heart of God – for we read that, “The eyes of the LORD are toward the righteous, and His ears are open to their cry.” However, are the “righteous eyes” turned towards God?
“Growing up” is the objective of the Christian life as well (Hebrews 5:12—6:1). Over time, the believers addressed in Hebrews had grown older in the faith, but they had still not grown up! Few things are more concerning to God than the life of any believer who is either unable or is unwilling to develop themselves from a steady and daily exposure to God’s Word and the host of His promises therein.
First Peter 3:8-12 God gifts to us a nine-point profile for Christian maturity.
 A Unity of Purpose (v. 8 “harmonious”; cf. John 17:21-23). Unity does not mean uniformity. It means cooperation in the midst of differences. We won’t always agree on how things should be done, but we should agree on what needs to be done and why we go forth for the sake of God’s glory and kingdom. Unity through worship and obedience overcomes our petty, peripheral differences.
 A Sympathetic Nature (v. 8; cf. Galatians 6:2; Romans 12:15; 1 Corinthians 12:26). Sympathy depends on our willingness to forget self and to identify with the pains and sorrows of others. It often involves personal sacrifice. Sympathy and selfishness cannot co-exist. Jesus said, “pray, bless those who curse you!”
 A Brotherly Affection (v. 8; cf. John 13:34-35; 1 John 3:14). Look around any community or neighborhood street corner. Go ahead. These are your brothers and sisters in Christ, at least some of them. By virtue of our family connection, we have the obligation to love one another without regard to any differences.
 A Tender Heart (v. 8 “kindhearted”). Jesus consistently demonstrated tender-heartedness. Jesus was moved by compassion (Matthew 9:36).
 A Humble Spirit (v. 8). Biblical humility is not the same as false modesty, but a deep-seated dependence upon God. It manifests itself in a desire to serve, rather than to be served, and a refusal to demand personal rights (entrusting themselves to God) Matthew 20:20-28, Mark 10:35-45.
 A Forgiving Heart (v. 9). Jesus calls us to go beyond the mere refusal to retaliate; he calls us to love those who wrong us, blessing them in word and deed. When your “go to response” is to give a blessing rather than an insult, it’s a sure-fire sign that you are growing in Christian maturity (Matthew 18:21-35)
 A Controlled Tongue (v. 10; cf. Proverbs 16:28; James 3:8-10). People who have learned to refrain from gossip and from passing on unverified comments are not only maturing people, but they are also the kind of people that we all want in our lives. They can be trusted. They believe the best in people. They choose trust over suspicion. (Matthew 15:16-20)
 A Life of Purity (v. 11). Once we have pulled in the reins of our tongue, we are then to spur ourselves onward to a life of moral purity. We are his image bearers so our words and our actions should reflect the grace and love of the Lord Jesus. We are to turn away from evil, do good! (Mark 4:26-29, 30-34, Luke 19:1-10)
 A Peacemaker (v. 11). Someone has hurt you, ridiculed you, or talked about you behind your back. Question: Are you actively pursuing peace with them?
If you are not, you are sinning against them and against God, and you are now actively, aggressively, stunting your own spiritual growth (Matthew 5:9).
Jesus came to bring peace among men and between God and man—so when we act as peacemakers, we are his sons and daughters. We imitate him. So please, in the coming days and weeks ahead, seek peace with those with whom there is presently tension. Do what you can (Jeremiah 29:1-7) (Romans 12:18).
Why is it important that we seek to cultivate these nine-character traits?
“Because the eyes of the Lord are toward the righteous, and His ears attend to their prayer, but the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.” (v. 12). God is opposed to the proud but gives grace to the humble (1 Peter 5:5)—and we want God’s grace, not his opposition! So how are you and I doing in these areas?
“Are ye able,” said the Master,
“to be crucified with me?”
“Yea,” the sturdy dreamers answered,
“to the death we follow thee.”
Lord, we are able. Our spirits are thine.
Remold them, make us, like thee, divine.
Thy guiding radiance above us shall be
a beacon to God, to love, and loyalty.” (Earl Marlatt, 1926)
In the name of God, the Father and God the Son and God the Holy Spirit,
Let us Pray,
Heavenly Father, thank You that Your eyes are over those that are cleansed by the blood of the Lamb and that Your ears are ever open to our prayers. Have mercy on those who have not accepted Your gracious offer of salvation and use me as a witness to Your goodness and grace. In Jesus’ name I pray, AMEN.