World English Bible translation
3:7You husbands, in like manner, live with your wives according to knowledge, giving honor to the woman, as to the weaker vessel, as being also joint heirs of the grace of life; not cutting off your prayers. 3:8 Finally, be all like-minded, compassionate, loving as brothers, tenderhearted, courteous, 3:9 not rendering evil for evil, or reviling for reviling; but instead blessing; knowing that to this were you called, that you may inherit a blessing. 3:10 For,
"He who would love life,
And see good days,
Let him keep his tongue from evil,
And his lips from speaking deceit.
3:11 Let him turn away from evil, and do good.
Let him seek peace, and pursue it.
3:12For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous,
And his ears open to their prayer;
But the face of the Lord is against those who do evil."
Peter now turns briefly to husbands and to their responsibilities to their wives. First it should be noted that Peter does not even consider the possibility that in his culture a believing husband might have an unbelieving wife. Usually in his day if the husband converted to a religion, everyone in the household converted to that religion with him: wives, children and servants. What he does tell husbands is that they should live with their wives "according to knowledge." Perhaps another way of saying the same thing would be to be smart about their lives with their wives. They are to give honor to their wives "as the weaker vessel" or, as some translate this passage, as the more vulnerable partner. Weakness in God's economy is not a negative thing as we see it. God uses the weak things of the world to confound the strong. A person's physical strength and social status mean nothing to God.
Peter tells them to honor their wives for two reasons. They are to be joint heirs of the grace that God gives. Husbands and wives share in the blessings that God gives to us. Their own personal faith is important as well, but even an unbelieving spouse shares in some of the blessings that God gives to his children. The other reason that Peter gives for honoring your wife is for "not cutting off your prayers." If a man dishonors his spouse he dishonors God and that would affect their ability to pray.
Peter then goes into a list of ways in which these men should live in harmony with one another and with God. What Peter is trying to tell these people is that they must live with one another if they are to live with God. He tells them to be "like-minded, compassionate, loving as brothers, tenderhearted, courteous, not rendering evil for evil, or reviling for reviling." Just as they are to honor their wives and their household, they are to honor each other.
This is an admonition that we need today as well. It is so easy to live separate lives, even as Christians. We come together and we get to know each other in a sense but that knowledge is only rarely deep and abiding. Our culture wars against the kind of deeper commitments that Peter and God are calling us toward. And we rarely have an opportunity to share our sufferings with one another. A body of believers should be the one place where we feel safe enough to be vulnerable and yet we rarely want to admit weakness in front of fellow Christians. One sermon that I heard once described the phenomenon in this way: People are afraid to be vulnerable in church because Christians have a tendency to shoot their wounded.
The fellowship of believers that God is calling us to be does not respond like this, however. We are called to live in community with one another. The members of the body of Christ are compassionate with one another and courteous. Their concern is not an outward demonstration but a reflection of the deeper, sincere love that God has for all of His children.
Peter's words remind us that God's eyes are on us. His ears are open to our prayers. This is why our response to one another must be the heartfelt response of God. God is building us up together into a temple in which He will dwell. We are not just holy people; we are a holy nation. We are called to live in relationship to one anther, and to God.
Who has God put in your life that He wants you to draw closer to? How does your relationship with these people reflect your relationship with God?
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