Maligned for right living
In the same way, let your light shine out for all, so that your good deeds will be seen by everyone and they will praise your heavenly Father. – Matthew 5:16
1 Peter 2:11-21
11 Dear friends, I warn you as “temporary residents and foreigners” to keep away from worldly desires that wage war against your very souls.
12 Be careful to live properly among your unbelieving neighbors. Then even if they accuse you of doing wrong, they will see your honorable behavior, and they will give honor to God when he judges the world.
15 It is God’s will that your honorable lives should silence those ignorant people who make foolish accusations against you.
16 For you are free, yet you are God’s slaves, so don’t use your freedom as an excuse to do evil.
17 Respect everyone, and love your Christian brothers and sisters. Fear God, and respect the king.
19 For God is pleased with you when you do what you know is right and patiently endure unfair treatment.
20 Of course, you get no credit for being patient if you are beaten for doing wrong. But if you suffer for doing good and endure it patiently, God is pleased with you.
21 For God called you to do good, even if it means suffering, just as Christ suffered for you. He is your example, and you must follow in his steps.
Large swaths of the planet are closed to the open expression and practice of biblical Christianity due to cultural, religious, or geographical barriers. In many locations, the preaching of the gospel is forbidden. Consequently, many of the locals have never heard the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. Yet, the father has managed to get the word out, and “underground churches” exist. If people cannot speak the gospel, how does the word get out?
Children of the King have the freedom and responsibility to live out their faith. When this is done, people become curious and want to know more about their positive attitude and joyful outlook even in dire times of deprivation. They are often moved to ask questions privately. This presents an opportunity for them to share the gospel and their faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.
But on the other hand, people are often wary or envious of the results of the good work of children of the King. Slanderous false charges and accusations are often made. This is exactly what Peter predicted would happen.
Dear friends . . .. Be careful to live properly among your unbelieving neighbors. Then even if they accuse you of doing wrong, they will see your honorable behavior, and they will give honor to God. – 1 Peter 2:11-21
As we go through life we are noticed and scrutinized by those that are around us at home, at work, at social gatherings, and at school. How we live makes an impression on others. It is incumbent upon us as children of the King to depend upon the Father to guide and empower our thoughts and actions.
“Be careful how you live. You may be the only Bible some person ever reads” (William J. Toms). You may be the only Jesus some people ever see. As children of the King, we are obligated to demonstrate to those around us what the Lord Jesus Christ would look like if He were present on earth today.
Most people would rather see a sermon lived out than hear one.
REFLECT & PRAY
“Preach the gospel all the time, and, if necessary, use words” (St. Francis of Assisi).
Father, help me to live in such a way that Your name will be honored wherever I go.
What is right living? As Peter exhorts the children of the King to live properly before their unbelieving neighbors, he explains in a few words what right living is.
1 Peter 2:12 Keep your behavior excellent among the Gentiles.
The Greek word translated behavior or conduct is anastrophe. Anastrophe focuses on a person’s whole conduct not simply their words. It has to do with their moral character and way of life. Think in terms of the adage “Actions speak louder than words.” When our actions do not live up to our words, what do we really have that is worth saying?
Anastrophe is a neutral term like passion. It can either refer to good or bad conduct. Peter is very specific; he wants the behavior of the children of the King to be excellent. The word translated as excellent or good is kalos. Kalos connotes not merely goodness but that which is lovely, fine, attractive, pleasing, or beautiful. The beauty or loveliness is charming and elegant manifested in harmonious completeness, balance, proportion.
When we allow the Lord Jesus Christ to live His life through us, our lives become characterized by Christlike fragrance or aroma. This aroma is divisive. Those who are being saved are drawn to it. While those who were not, are repulsed by it.
2 Corinthians 2:15-16
15 Our lives are a Christ-like fragrance rising up to God. But this fragrance is perceived differently by those who are being saved and by those who are perishing.
16 To those who are perishing, we are a dreadful smell of death and doom. But to those who are being saved, we are a life-giving perfume. And who is adequate for such a task as this?
When children of the King walk closely with the Lord Jesus Christ a spiritual fragrance is produced. Whether the fragrance is pleasant or odious is determined not by the source, but rather by the recipient (Baker). The same aroma is either life or death to those who sense it. Children of the King are intended to be a billboard advertising the Lord Jesus Christ.
This is a monumental responsibility. Paul asked who is adequate for such a task? The knee-jerk response is no one. When considering an individual’s ability alone, that answer is correct. But Paul provides a more excellent answer.
2 Corinthians 3:5 Not that we are adequate in ourselves to consider anything as coming from ourselves, but our adequacy is from God.
“In the early Church, this demonstration of the loveliness of the Christian life was necessary above all because of the slanders that were deliberately circulated about the Christian Church.”
“The striking fact of history is that by their lives the Christians actually did defeat the slanders of the Gentile world. . .. Here is our challenge and our inspiration. It is by the loveliness of our daily life and conduct that we must commend Christianity to those who do not believe” (Barclay).
Philippians 2:15 Live clean, innocent lives as children of God, shining like bright lights in a world full of crooked and perverse people.
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