Thursday, March 30, 2017

Do Good and Be Blessed (1 Peter 3:13-17)

“Who is there to harm you if you prove zealous for what is good? But even if you should suffer for the sake of righteousness, you are blessed. And do not fear their intimidation, and do not be troubled, but sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence; and keep a good conscience so that in the thing in which you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ will be put to shame. For it is better, if God should will it so, that you suffer for doing what is right rather than for doing what is wrong.” (1 Peter 3:13–17, NASB95)

There is a general principle among men that if you do good you will suffer no harm as a result, but if you do harm you should expect no good consequence in response. This is a basic premise of our criminal judicial system. Those who obey the law have nothing to fear from the law, but those who break the law should expect to suffer the consequence of their transgressions. The problem with a general principle is that it is not an absolute. This is particularly true when the laws of man conflict with the laws of God, and man is forced to choose between them. It is also true when the predominant faith of a region conflicts with the individual faith of a smaller group of people. Today in our world we have countless examples of both. We see the persecution that happens in predominantly Muslim countries where Christians are being tortured, arrested, raped, and even put to death. We even see persecution in our own country when in the one-sided name of “anti-discrimination” business owners are being sued and even losing all that they own because they choose to stand for their Christian faith and values.

Peter encourages us to do right when right even when right is not easy, popular, or maybe even approved. Generally speaking in doing right things will go well with us. But even if they don’t, we should never let escaping persecution be an excuse for cutting a right corner. Our God will bless His people. We may not see it in tangible ways, but He has His ways of making His blessing incredibly evident. Peter makes the bold statement, “But even if you should suffer for the sake of righteousness, you are blessed.” I love the tense of the blessing. It is a present condition. Sure, we have a future hope, but we never have to wait to know that we are presently pleasing to God and in receipt of His constant watch care and blessing. We can know His peace in the midst of turmoil. We can know His approval in the face of the world’s chastisement. We can know that we are right with God when everything around us seems to be going wrong.

The Greek word used here is “makarios,” and it is the same word that Jesus used in His beatitudes of Matthew chapter 5, where there is a continual focus on the blessedness of the individual who responds properly in the face of various trials.

““Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted. “Blessed are the gentle, for they shall inherit the earth. “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied. “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy. “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God. “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God. “Blessed are those who have been persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. “Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me. “Rejoice and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great; for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.” (Matthew 5:3–12, NASB95)

Jesus ended His words with, “Rejoice and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great….” Blessing is not found in the abundance of things or in being lauded by man. Real blessing comes from God, and He is incredibly generous to those who seek Him and walk according to His ways.

Peter tells us not to be intimidated by man, but to sanctify Christ as Lord in our hearts. “Sanctify” is the same Greek word “hagiois” that we have looked at repeatedly in this letter. We are set apart as God’s holy ones because of Christ, and we are to continually recognize Christ as our Lord. There is no human power that can even step on the scale in comparison. Christ, the Son was present in creation and all things that exist came into being by Him, and, as we read in Colossians, it is Him who holds all things together.

“He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things have been created through Him and for Him. He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together. He is also head of the body, the church; and He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that He Himself will come to have first place in everything. For it was the Father’s good pleasure for all the fullness to dwell in Him, and through Him to reconcile all things to Himself, having made peace through the blood of His cross; through Him, I say, whether things on earth or things in heaven.” (Colossians 1:15–20, NASB95)

He is Lord and we are to be continually mindful of this truth when people try to puff themselves up. We have no reason to be intimidated or to be troubled. Things might be troubling and our hearts might be heavy over the wrongness of them, but all things are under the sovereign authority of our God, and He will work His good. “These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33, NASB95)

Knowing His firm hand, we know that we are made to stand. We are to take our courage in Him, and because of Him we can give an answer to others concerning the hope that we have. When someone comments on how we are walking through something, possibly adding that they don’t know if they could, we have the opportunity to speak of about Christ. We don’t have to get riled up at the injustice, but we can in good conscience with His peace speak boldly about the assurance we have in Him in the face of the injustice. We can work for right, but we aren’t to get exasperated and lose hope when right does not seem to prevail. Our hope is in our Lord and not the success of our plans of the consequence of our actions. Therefore, it is better to suffer for doing right before Him than to suffer for wrong. We may gain the pleasure of man when we seek to please man, but man is not our judge neither are man’s ways our perfect guide.

When the world is lashing out around us and maybe even at us, our confidence in God will be even more evident when we don’t return insult for insult or evil for evil (v. 9), but with internal peace respond with grace as we stand on His truth. We are to evidence our hope through our gentleness and reverence of response as we keep our conscience clear before God and man. They may say lots of things, revile us for our stand, and lash out at us in response, but what really matters is the hope we have in Christ and the certain knowledge that we are doing things His way no matter what man might do. In this we know that we are approved by Him and are truly, truly blessed.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Seeking Life, Love, and Goodness (1 Peter 3:10-12)


One thing I like about the New American Standard translation, besides it accuracy which is paramount, is that it puts Old Testament quotes in small caps. This makes it very easy for me to spot them. And, I like the margin notes and superscript letters because it helps me find where the quote likely originated, which today is from Psalm 34:12-16. “Who is the man who desires life and loves length of days that he may see good? Keep your tongue from evil and your lips from speaking deceit. Depart from evil and do good; Seek peace and pursue it. The eyes of the Lord are toward the righteous and His ears are open to their cry. The face of the Lord is against evildoers, to cut off the memory of them from the earth.” (Psalm 34:12–16, NASB95)

Peter transitions from verse 9 into the quote from Psalm 34 with the simple little conjunction “for.” A conjunction is a word that connects two clauses or sentences. The intended blessing of verse 9 is connected with the conditions of the blessing in verses 10-12. In verse 9 we told that we are called for a blessing and that we are to respond differently than the world responds to evil or harsh speech and actions by returning a blessing in the face of a curse. In Psalm 34 we have the words that distinguish the person who desires the life found in God from those who fly by the seat of their flesh. Simply put, God pays attention to those who seek after Him and who live according to His ways. His face is turned against those who turn their face toward evil. God is pleased with those who seek peace and pursue it. His eyes are turned to those whose seek to live righteous before Him, and He hears their cries in their distress. God is opposed to evil, and He is the ultimate judge of it. These are truths that, as Christians, I think we all probably grasp at some level. But, it is in the moment by moment choosing to apply them that we tend to struggle.

Scripture lays out a consistent model for change toward godly behavior. It is a simple one, and it involves three steps of putting off, having our mind renewed, and putting on. Not one of these is intended to be done in our own strength, but in the constant recognition that God’s Spirit is living and working in us because of the change that occurs when we trust Christ for our salvation. Immediately we became a new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17), and it is from then on that we are called to walk as one. In Ephesians 4:17-19 we read about the way we once were before we came to know Christ. It is the way the rest of the world is apart from Him. We read in verses 17 and 18 that they walk in “the futility of their minds” because they are darkened in their understanding and alienated from God. Verse 20 then points to a time of change, which was coming to know Chris. Then comes our call to walk in the way that we have learned Christ, presuming that we have indeed come to know Christ (v. 21). It is from this that we read in verses 22-24, “that, in reference to your former manner of life, you lay aside the old self, which is being corrupted in with the lusts of deceit, and that you be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and put on the new self, which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth.” (Ephesians 4:22–24, NASB95)

Having come to know Christ leading to salvation, we are to continually grow in Christ having been saved. As we hide God’s Word in our hearts, we are to engage in the process of shedding the old ways and putting on the new ways through the power of the Spirit working in us. “But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh.” (Galatians 5:16, NASB95) It was with this constant recognition that the apostle Paul walked and served as we read in Colossians 1:29, “For this purpose also I labor, striving according to His power, which mightily works within me.” (Colossians 1:29, NASB95)

So, getting back to our passage for today, we read that in recognition of the life that we have in Christ we are to live with the desire for that life lived daily present in our minds. We are to love God and others. Desiring to see good exalted in our days, we are to be examples of God’s goodness to those around us. Practically speaking, if we want to experience life, love, and goodness we are to live as people who are alive, who love unconditionally and who do good. We are not to resort to the ways of the world to get even with the world. All that does is drag us down to the world’s level and distort the image of Christ in us.

This means that we are to not speak words that promote or exalt evil. We are not to lie or deceive others. We are to turn away from all these things. We are to, in the words of Paul, lay them aside. This is not how we learned Christ. This is not who we are in Christ, and we are not to live as if it were. It is not okay. It is not to be our justified response to the evil set before us. We have been made new, and we are to take what we have learned about living as new creations and apply it to our daily lives. We are to put on Christ which means that we are to live the reality of who we are in Christ, just as we have learned about how He walked before us. We are to learn about our God and live in active response to what we know is right and good.

We are to turn away from evil and do good. We are to seek peace and pursue it. God knows everything we face. He knows the condition of the world, and He has perfectly figured out what He is going to do in response. He hears our cries, and He will answer. But, we shouldn’t expect Him to answer if we are unwilling to seek Him and do it His way.

“But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him. But he must ask in faith without any doubting, for the one who doubts is like the surf of the sea, driven and tossed by the wind. For that man ought not to expect that he will receive anything from the Lord, being a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways. But the brother of humble circumstances is to glory in his high position; and the rich man is to glory in his humiliation, because like flowering grass he will pass away. For the sun rises with a scorching wind and withers the grass; and its flower falls off and the beauty of its appearance is destroyed; so too the rich man in the midst of his pursuits will fade away. Blessed is a man who perseveres under trial; for once he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him.” (James 1:5–12, NASB95)

Our God is a God of blessing and He delights in it. What He calls us to do is to seek Him, trust Him to work, and walk accordingly as the blessed ones we are, blessings others reflecting that He indeed is good.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Blessed to Bless (1 Peter 3:9)

“…not returning evil for evil or insult for insult, but giving a blessing instead; for you were called for the very purpose that you might inherit a blessing.” (1 Peter 3:9, NASB95)

How often have you heard said that one person wasn’t going to treat another in a positive way because he or she did not deserve it? More pointedly, I imagine that you like I have done this yourselves and have probably thought it even more frequently. After all, they are getting their “just dessert.” Engaging in a kind of tit for tat just seems the natural way of doing things, or at least it does until after you’ve done it and you then feel bad afterward for doing so. This is especially true when you discover some fact about the situation after the fact that changes how you feel.

Stephen Covey, in his book “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change,” wrote,

“I remember a mini-paradigm shift I experienced one morning on a subway in New York. People were sitting quietly - some reading newspapers, some lost in thought, some resting with their eyes closed. It was a calm, peaceful scene.
“Then suddenly, a man and his children entered the subway.  The children were so loud and rambunctious that instantly the whole climate changed.
“The man sat down next to me and closed his eyes, apparently oblivious to the situation. The children were yelling back and forth, throwing things, even grabbing people's papers. It was very disturbing. And yet, the man sitting next to me did nothing.
“It was difficult not to feel irritated. I could not believe that he could be so insensitive as to let his children run wild like that and do nothing about it, taking no responsibility at all. It was easy to see that everyone else on the subway felt irritated, too. So finally, with what I felt was unusual patience and restraint, I turned to him and said, “Sir, your children are really disturbing a lot of people. I wonder if you couldn't control them a little more?”
“The man lifted his gaze as if to come to a consciousness of the situation for the first time and said softly, “Oh, you're right. I guess I should do something about it. We just came from the hospital where their mother died about an hour ago. I don't know what to think, and I guess they don't know how to handle it either.”
“Can you imagine what I felt at that moment? My paradigm shifted. Suddenly I saw things differently, and because I saw differently, I thought differently, I felt differently, I behaved differently. My irritation vanished. I didn't have to worry about controlling my attitude or my behavior; my heart was filled with the man's pain. Feelings of sympathy and compassion flowed freely. “Your wife just died? Oh, I'm so sorry! Can you tell me about it? What can I do to help?” Everything changed in an instant.” (Note: I used this quote apart from the book which I have not read and for which I can make no recommendation either way.)

This story stuck in my mind because of a tendency I’ve observed working in retail to judge parents by the actions of their kids. Rather than taking a moment to enter into a struggling mother’s world, or in this case a bereaved father’s, there is this rush to judgment because our own senses are offended in some way.

In today’s passage Peter turns this table upside down by challenging us to restrain our fleshly tendency and respond as God responds to us. After listing five positive traits that are to mark us as Christians, Peter finishes the list by setting up a negative that we are to avoid in lieu of a positive that we are to engage in because of the positive we have been given by God instead of the negative that we deserve. And, unlike us, God knows everything about us and He still choose to show us incredible mercy and extend to us His grace. He did more than empathize with us. Out of His great love, He gave His Son for us knowing absolutely every detail of our lives.

It is in this context that Peter instructs us not to not return evil for evil or insult for insult. We are not to live “tit for tat” lives. We are not to dish out “just desserts.” We are not to act in any way where we return anything to another other than what God returns for us and what we are promised to receive from Him. In the examples cited so far there has been no direct action against us in one sense. In the supermarket we are outside observers, who have maybe been bumped into or have heard something we would have rather not heard. In the subway instance, sure there might have been some disruption in their tranquility, but we can see that the accompanying rush to judgment was based on facts assumed and not fully known. For all of us, though, there have been and there will be those times when our call to respond hits a lot closer to home and is a lot harder to deal with.

When we respond to another we have no idea what God will do with it. It might momentarily calm a situation or provide a hand in a time of need, or it might be used to bring eternal blessing. It might even be ignored in anger or hatred. It is not for us to know these things which rest ultimately in the hands of God. What is for us is to respond to every person in the way that God responds to us.

These times are not easy, and God knows that. Jesus experienced it, and Peter reminded us of this earlier in this same letter. “who committed no sin, nor was any deceit found in His mouth; 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 2:22–23, NASB95) Jesus did not deserve the treatment He received. He did not deserve the words hurled at Him. He didn’t deserve anything harsh from anyone, but He suffered this great evil so that we might receive a blessing. He came so that we could be brought back into a relationship with our Creator God, be completely forgiven, and fully embraced for all of eternity.

Jesus knew everything He would have to endure, and He did it anyway because of the Father’s love for us. Knowing this, we are told to follow His example. And God’s way of response is to return both evil action and insult (or reviling) with a blessing. This word “blessing” is not new to us. It is the Greek word “eulogeō,” and it means to speak well of or in response to. And the incredible thing is that we don’t have to do this in our own strength. We can’t do it in our own strength, and knowing this, God gave us His Spirit as our Helper. “I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever; that is the Spirit of truth….” (John 14:16–17, NASB95)

“For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin. Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” (Hebrews 4:15–16, NASB95) This is who Christ is. And, looking back to 1 Peter 2:5 we read this of ourselves, “you also, as living stones, are being built up as a spiritual house for a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.” (1 Peter 2:5, NASB95) In Hebrews we read of the task of the priests of old. “For every high priest taken from among men is appointed on behalf of men in things pertaining to God, in order to offer both gifts and sacrifices for sins; he can deal gently with the ignorant and misguided, since he himself also is beset with weakness;” (Hebrews 5:1–2, NASB95) Every one of us has sinned and the reality is that we still sin. We all transgress before God, and He forgave us and blesses us. As His holy priesthood, we are called to respond to others in this same way that Christ responded for us, even when they are ignorant and misguided.

“But I [Jesus] say to you who hear, love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. Whoever hits you on the cheek, offer him the other also; and whoever takes away your coat, do not withhold your shirt from him either. Give to everyone who asks of you, and whoever takes away what is yours, do not demand it back. Treat others the same way you want them to treat you.” (Luke 6:27–31, NASB95) 

Saturday, March 18, 2017

With the Kindness of Christ (1 Peter 3:8-9)

“To sum up, all of you be harmonious, sympathetic, brotherly, kindhearted, and humble in spirit; not returning evil for evil or insult for insult, but giving a blessing instead; for you were called for the very purpose that you might inherit a blessing.” (1 Peter 3:8–9, NASB95)

In addition to the charge to be one with each other in mind and practice, Peter adds several other traits that are to mark us as followers of Christ. The next on the list is “sympathetic.” The Greek word “sympathies” means to have compassion for others. It stems from another word meaning to suffer with or feel the pain of another. This is what our Lord has for us as we read in passages like Hebrews 4:15, “For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin.” (Hebrews 4:15, NASB95) Looking to the heart of sympathizing we find inherit in it two things. One of them is understanding. Jesus being God knows fully the most intimate of details of every single one of our lives. He not only knows them, but He understands perfectly what it at the core of each of them and how they affect our lives. When we say that someone doesn’t understand, that they don’t get it, we frequently do so because they don’t agree. We cannot say this of God. He knows fully and understands completely. Adding to this, the Son of God took on the form of man and then as man He personally experienced the great harshness of man. His understanding includes compassion. He experienced the things we experience, but He did so without sin. Hebrews 4:16 continues, “Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” (Hebrews 4:16, NASB95) Because Jesus knows, we know that we can come to Him and experience his mercy and grace in our time of need, which is the heart of compassion.

We are called to have sympathetic hearts toward one another such that when they struggle we can reach out to them with the heart of Christ and help them in their time of struggle. This is what family does for one another. The NAS uses the word “brotherly,” while others use “brotherly love.” The Greek word here is “philadelphos.” It stems from the word “philos” which speaks of a friend or being friendly and “adelphos” which is most commonly translated brother. It is from this that Philidelphia is known as the “city of brotherly love.” It is this familial love that we are to show to one another in Christ. As joint heirs, we are called to jointly love, which means even when things are not going right between us. In Proverbs 18:24 we read, “A man of too many friends comes to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.” (Proverbs 18:24, NASB95) The word “friend” used in the second half of the verse is the Hebrew word “ahab” which speaks of more than a friend, but gets to the heart of what a true friend is. It speaks of one who loves. We are called to love one another and to respond to one another in love with the bond that we have as brothers (and sisters), united one in Christ.

Next, we read that we are to be “kindhearted.” This word has the meaning of being kind or doing well toward others from the deepest part of us, from our bowels, or our passionate core. It is defined as being compassionate or tender-hearted. It has the meaning of desiring the best for others and seeking to help them in the process. I think we all know when we have experienced kindness and when we have met a kindhearted person, just as we know when we see the opposite. The Word of God says that we are to be marked by our heart toward others as we know the heart of Christ toward us, even when people’s hearts do not reciprocate.

Being “humble in spirit” is last on this list of five. Some translations word this simply “humble” or “humble mind.” At the heart of this word (tapeinophrones) are two words, “tapeinos” meaning not rising far from the ground (literally) or a lowly condition, attitude, or spirit (metaphorically), and “phrones.” We looked briefly at this word in our first word on the list (harmonious) where we saw it to mean “understanding.” A humble in spirit person is one who understands himself to be just who He is before our God as one who has fallen greatly, been forgiven immensely, and enabled generously. Apart from Christ we are lost, and apart from Christ we can do no good thing. Apart from Christ there is no righteousness in us and we can do nothing to make it right. But, in Christ we have been lifted up and become incredibly blessed to be used by God to accomplish the works that He ordained for us so that we would walk in them. “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.” (Ephesians 2:8–10, NASB95)

As humble-minded followers of Christ we are reminded of His extreme humility and the example that He set. “Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others. Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. For this reason also, God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” (Philippians 2:3–11, NASB95)

Every single one of these words has at its core a sober assessment of who we are in relation to our God, a realization of who we are apart from Him, and a real and a recognition of what we are to do in response. He created us all as man and He brings those He calls together as one into His body—the church. He knew our eventual condition from before the beginning of time, and He set in place out of His great love a compassionate resolution in His Son. He loves us and He set for us the example of love in His Son as He then calls us to love particularly those we have been knit together with in the body of Christ. His kindness, shown in His mercy and grace toward us, is beyond measure, and He calls us to be this way toward others in response. And, knowing who we are, we are to live this way in the continual recognition of who He is and how we are set apart for His glory.

Friday, March 17, 2017

Harmony in Christ (1 Peter 3:8-9)

“To sum up, all of you be harmonious, sympathetic, brotherly, kindhearted, and humble in spirit; not returning evil for evil or insult for insult, but giving a blessing instead; for you were called for the very purpose that you might inherit a blessing.” (1 Peter 3:8–9, NASB95)

After settling the fact of our salvation in the first part of chapter 1, Peter began a series of responses that are to characterize us as belonging to Jesus Christ. In 1:13-15 Peter instructs us to prepare our minds for action, to stay sober in spirit and to fix our hope completely of the hope we will realize at the coming of Christ. Doing so means that we are to live holy lives like the Holy One who called us, not as we once did in ignorance. “Therefore, prepare your minds for action, keep sober in spirit, fix your hope completely on the grace to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. As obedient children, do not be conformed to the former lusts which were yours in your ignorance, but like the Holy One who called you, be holy yourselves also in all your behavior;” (1 Peter 1:13–15, NASB95)

Chapter 2 then beings with the need that we have to continually set aside the things of the flesh as we long for the truth of God as found in His Word which directs us in our walk with Him. “Therefore, putting aside all malice and all deceit and hypocrisy and envy and all slander, like newborn babies, long for the pure milk of the word, so that by it you may grow in respect to salvation,” (1 Peter 2:1–2, NASB95) In the verses that followed Peter affirmed the radical change that has been made in us and the resulting priority of our living differently. He concludes these verses, prior to getting into specific areas of struggle in our lives, with an overarching instruction concerning how we are to walk differently in the world before those who know no difference. “Beloved, I urge you as aliens and strangers to abstain from fleshly lusts which wage war against the soul. Keep your behavior excellent among the Gentiles, so that in the thing in which they slander you as evildoers, they may because of your good deeds, as they observe them, glorify God in the day of visitation.” (1 Peter 2:11–12, NASB95)

The next several sections of his letter deal with three critical areas of life in which struggles are common. In verses 13-17 we are instructed about how to walk in the world and our need to submit to those in authority. Included in here is the understanding that the government may not be friendly or right. Our response is important as we even demonstrate their foolishness not by our pointing a harsh finger, but by the way we live our lives in response. He summed it up in verse 17 with these words, “Honor all people, love the brotherhood, fear God, honor the king.” (1 Peter 2:17, NASB95)

In verses 18-25 he deals with what in today’s structure is our work environment and those situations where we are under the authority of another outside the home. Very pointedly, Peter goes to the area of suffering in this situation and our accompanying response. Here he interjects the example of Christ who endured great suffering for us so that we might walk in His steps. In verses 21-24 we read, “For you have been called for this purpose, since Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example for you to follow in His steps, who committed no sin, nor was any deceit found in His mouth; 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; and He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; for by His wounds you were healed.” (1 Peter 2:21–24, NASB95)

Heading into chapter 3 we also head into the home. First dealt with is the wife and how she is to respond to her husband even if he is disobedient to the Word. Her response is to follow directly from the example of our Lord who we read of in the verses just before. This is made evident with the simple truth found at the beginning of the verse; “likewise” or “in the same way.” Jesus suffered at the hands of man to bring our salvation for the glory of God, and He did it without reviling those who persecuted him. In the home, we read the hope that even the disobedient husband would be won, even without a word, by the behavior of his wife. Also, beginning with the same word, in verse 7 we find that the husband is to walk similarly with his wife, not letting his position become one of abuse but one from which he honors her as joint heirs of the grace of God.

All of these bring us to verse 8 where we have the Greek words “to de telos.” Simply put these words translate into one English word, “finally.” Having said all of these things about how we respond to suffering and difficulty in our lives because of who Christ is and what He has done and is doing in us, we are to “finally” respond this way…. In all the storms of life, here is an umbrella for us in them. Summing it all up, this is how we are to walk with others, particularly those of in Christ, when things get messy. We read that this applies to all of us. This is an inclusive statement of all who have trusted in Christ for their salvation. This is clear from the context of 1 Peter where he speaks of how we as believers are to live, and it is specifically pointed out in 1 Peter 2:2-3, “like newborn babies, long for the pure milk of the word, so that by it you may grow in respect to salvation, if you have tasted the kindness of the Lord.” (1 Peter 2:2–3, NASB95) When it comes to believers there are none that are not included in everyone. All means all.

Outside the body of Christ, this instruction also has application as we remember that God created man in His image, and that His Word instructs us concerning how we are to live with all men. “If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men. Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord. “But if your enemy is hungry, feed him, and if he is thirsty, give him a drink; for in so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” (Romans 12:18–21, NASB95)

Particularly, as believers, we are all to be harmonious or of one mind with one another. The Greek work here is “homophornes,” where “homo” means the “same” and “phren” translates to “understanding” or “mind.” There is no mincing this one, and the mind that we are to seek is the mind of Christ who we have seen revealed in this letter and throughout Scripture. In 1 Corinthians, the apostle Paul wrote, “But he who is spiritual appraises all things, yet he himself is appraised by no one. For who has known the mind of the Lord, that he will instruct Him? But we have the mind of Christ.” (1 Corinthians 2:15–16, NASB95) The one who have come to know Christ and who seeks after Him learns about Him so as to think like Him. But he also followed these verses with a harsh indictment of the current condition of these believers, saying, “And I, brethren, could not speak to you as to spiritual men, but as to men of flesh, as to infants in Christ. I gave you milk to drink, not solid food; for you were not yet able to receive it. Indeed, even now you are not yet able, for you are still fleshly. For since there is jealousy and strife among you, are you not fleshly, and are you not walking like mere men?” (1 Corinthians 3:1–3, NASB95) They needed to grow up, and the first step in growing up was to walk in accordance with what they knew of Christ and then continue from there as they replaced the things of the flesh with that of the Spirit according to the Word.

Sure, there are passages that we may not fully understand and over which we may not fully agree, but even in disagreement we are not to be disagreeable with each other. We are together to encourage and build up one another in Christ as we continue to grow in knowledge, understanding, wisdom and resulting practice. In Philippians 1:27 we read, “Only conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or remain absent, I will hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel;” (Philippians 1:27, NASB95)

Recognizing that I am far from perfect in this area, and that I have treated others wrongly, in my time as a Christian there have been times when I knew that I rightly could not stand with another “so-called” Christian. But I also know that there have been far more times when I have stood with believers who, for one reason or another, we have had some difference or lack of total unity. Either case may have been over a theological distinctive or it may have been over a behavioral practice. Most churches have doctrinal statements of faith, and in those statements, there are some beliefs that are considered non-negotiables and others over which they understand others who hold the same non-negotiables may differ in understanding. The organization of pastors and churches in our community known as the Church of the Valley. This is a practical example of walking in harmony with one another because of our common faith in our Lord Jesus Christ who is our only means of salvation, and in our walking, we also worship and serve side by side.

Differences may also surface in the area of behavior. I know that I stumble in my walk with Christ and I know that others do as well. Scripture calls us to build up and encourage one another, to exhort each other, to walk alongside one another in the difficult things, and to be longsuffering and forgiving toward one another. These “one another’s” come with the understanding that we have not arrived. As believers in Christ we are 100% forgiven, but in these bodies and with our hearts and minds, we are not 100% changed. God is doing a work in us to grow us into the image of His Son. We are called to be personally responsible in that growth process as we also help others to do likewise. We are not to let the offense of the moment drive a wedge in the oneness that we have in Christ. Sure, there may be instances where the process of biblical discipline might have to be taken beyond one on one, but even then, it is with the heart of restoration to the oneness of walk that we have in been eternally granted in Christ.

Being of one mind is looking to ourselves and to others with mind of Christ, and to what His love for all of us moved Him to do on our behalf.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Loving with Honor and Understanding (1 Peter 3:7)

“Likewise, husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way, showing honor to the woman as the weaker vessel, since they are heirs with you of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered.” (1 Peter 3:7, ESV)

Again, we begin with “likewise” or the Greek work “homoios”, meaning “in the same way.” Just as the instruction to wives began this way, so does the instruction to husbands. Each of the instructions, though maybe with a different emphasis, points back to the example of Christ and the examples of submission that preceded. Christian husbands are to have submissive and sacrificial hearts. Just as Jesus submitted to the will of the Father and gave Himself for His church—His bride, so are husbands to consider the best for their wives and give themselves for them.

“… submitting to one another [all believers] out of reverence for Christ.” … “Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church,” (Ephesians 5:21, 25–29, ESV)

The wife is not the head of the husband, as Paul wrote in Ephesians 5:23, and the husband is not called to submit to her in this way. But, the wife is chief in his heart, and husbands are called by God to give themselves fully for the wives. As husbands, we are to consider them, their desires, their needs, their hearts, their loves, and even their fears. We are to hear them fully and walk with them intimately. The picture of Ephesians 5 shows that husbands are to hold nothing good back, even as he knows and takes care of his own body. The Bible declares that the husband and wife are made one in marriage, and the husband is called to pay close attention to this oneness as he cherishes his wife, seeking to understand her fully and walk with her rightly.

This is in stark contrast to the reference in 1 Peter 3:1 where the husband is walking in disobedience to the Word. The husband is to be a man of the Word, who hides it in his heart and walks accordingly (Psalm 119:9,11), and who loves his wife according to the Word. Encapsulating all of this, Peter simply says that the husband is to walk with his wife in an understanding way. Seeking always to consider the heart, needs, fears and feelings of his wife, the husband is to walk appropriately in response. This is a huge task, and there is not a husband that will do this perfectly. But it is the most important human task given to husbands, and we are called to look to the example of our Lord as we grow daily in walking rightly.

Last week women were in the streets demanding recognition and equality. Peter tells us that husbands are to strive not just for the equality of their wives, but to honor them wives as the special gift given to them by God according to His perfect design. In God’s scheme of things there are no second class women. “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” (Galatians 3:28, ESV) In the marriage relationship, this is to be evidenced in how husbands love their wives. I know that I have a long way to grow in this, and some days I don’t do too well, but I am so very thankful to God for the progress He has made and the wife He has given me that makes this so much easier and enjoyable as she has chosen to be the wife of the first verses of this chapter.

Peter went on to write that the husband is to respond to his wife in this way in recognition that she is the “weaker vessel.” Over the years, I have heard many sermons and read many articles on these two words and what they might mean. Most simply put, it is an observable reality that women are physically weaker and are emotionally different. In the world around us we have endless examples of women excelling in countless ways, and this verse is not intended to put them down. Rather, to declare that men and women are different by design. Sin has had a dramatic effect on our world and the way it functions. Women’s equality has been pushed to mean in all ways, but the Word of God says that men and women are uniquely different. God is not about reinforcing the ways of the world. He has a right way, and in His right way husbands are to honor their wives and tend to their special wiring and needs, recognizing by His design that we have been made uniquely male and female.

Together the husband and wife are to be united as co-equals in Christ with the husband as the head who cares for his wife and seeks to provide for her needs. This has nothing to do with inferiority or superiority, but God’s perfect design for the home. Marriage is intended to be the best relationship on earth that we can know. One author said marriage is “the best relationship earthly life has to offer. The husband must cultivate companionship and fellowship with his wife, Christian or not.” “Enjoy life with the wife whom you love….” (Ecclesiastes 9:9a, ESV)

To the husbands, Peter then gives a warning, “so that your prayers may not be hindered.” The Word of God says that the way husbands treat their wives is a big deal to God. When the most important human relationship we can know is strained, then so will our relationship be with God. The basic principle of Scripture is that if we know we have an open issue with a sister or brother in Christ we are to even leave our place of prayer and go deal with it. “Therefore if you are presenting your offering at the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your offering there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother, and then come and present your offering.” (Matthew 5:23–24, NASB95) And, turning the table this is even true if the wife is herself disobedient to the Word as was referenced about the husband in 1 Peter 3:1.

Looking at the context of these verses on marriage is a sobering reminder that a good marriage takes work. It is not easy, but it is immensely rewarding. Trails and suffering will happen, but none of them are alien to our Lord who set Himself as our example, His Word as our guide, and gives His Spirit as our help.

“So husbands ought also to love their own wives as their own bodies. He who loves his own wife loves himself;” (Ephesians 5:28, NASB95)

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Godly Women Every Day (1 Peter 3:5-6)

“For in this way in former times the holy women also, who hoped in God, used to adorn themselves, being submissive to their own husbands; just as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord, and you have become her children if you do what is right without being frightened by any fear.” (1 Peter 3:5–6, NASB95)

In my slow progression through 1 Peter I did not plan today’s passage for today. It just worked out that I would sit down this morning to continue looking at what Peter had to say about wives on what is being celebrated by some as International Women’s Day. Looking to its origin here in this country I found that it was first observed on February 28, 1909 by the Socialist Party of America commemorating a strike that supposedly happened a couple of years earlier. Then in 1910 an International Women’s Conference was formed which drew in other nations, again as a socialist effort. In 1914 the date was moved to March 8 where it remains today, being formally recognized by the United Nations in 1977. Since its inception, it has continued to be largely recognized as a socialist/communist protest marked by demonstrations, marches, and strikes demanding equality (source: Wikipedia and other similar sites)

In stark contrast to these protests of the past and even today we have the words of the apostle Peter as he points to the example of women such as Abraham’s wife, Sarah. In the previous two verses, we read that a woman’s adornment was not to be merely external, but was to flow from her very core. He wrote that the real treasure of these women was found in the hidden person of their heart as evidenced by their gentle and quiet spirit. It is this character of the wife that Peter said is precious in the sight of God. Then he proceeded to state that we have examples of these women shown for us in many of the women of the Old Testament, specifically mentioning Sarah. Over the past few days I took some time to read the passages concerning Sarah, Rahab, Ruth and the woman of Proverbs 31. I was impressed with each of these women and how they responded to adversity. Not one of them was brought up knowing God, but each of them came to know God as adults as they learned more of Him and His character.

Sarah left her homeland with her half-brother-husband and suffered from some really foolish things on his part as she, herself, even did some of her own and then struggled with the consequences. But God made a promise to Abraham and Sarah, and Sarah at 90+ years of age gave birth to a son who she would live to love until her death at 127 years of age. Abraham loved his wife so much that he would not allow the land in which she was to be buried be given to him, but rather insisted that he pay its full value. And, in the years to come he was buried there himself along with several subsequent generations.

In the New Testament, we read of Sarah and Abraham, her husband, "(8) By faith Abraham, when he was called, obeyed by going out to a place which he was to receive for an inheritance; and he went out, not knowing where he was going. (9) By faith he lived as an alien in the land of promise, as in a foreign land, dwelling in tents with Isaac and Jacob, fellow heirs of the same promise; (10) for he was looking for the city which has foundations, whose architect and builder is God. (11) By faith even Sarah herself received ability to conceive, even beyond the proper time of life, since she considered Him faithful who had promised. (12) Therefore there was born even of one man, and him as good as dead at that, as many descendants as the stars of heaven in number, and innumerable as the sand which is by the seashore.” (Hebrews 11:8–12, NASB95)

Rahab, described as the harlot, had heard of the conquests of the Jews and the power of their God. When the spies were scoping out Jericho before its destruction, Rahab negotiated with them the safety of herself and her family for the safe escape of the spies. In Joshua 2:9-14, “and [Rahab] said to the men, “I know that the Lord has given you the land, and that the terror of you has fallen on us, and that all the inhabitants of the land have melted away before you. “For we have heard how the Lord dried up the water of the Red Sea before you when you came out of Egypt, and what you did to the two kings of the Amorites who were beyond the Jordan, to Sihon and Og, whom you utterly destroyed. “When we heard it, our hearts melted and no courage remained in any man any longer because of you; for the Lord your God, He is God in heaven above and on earth beneath. “Now therefore, please swear to me by the Lord, since I have dealt kindly with you, that you also will deal kindly with my father’s household, and give me a pledge of truth, and spare my father and my mother and my brothers and my sisters, with all who belong to them, and deliver our lives from death.” So the men said to her, “Our life for yours if you do not tell this business of ours; and it shall come about when the Lord gives us the land that we will deal kindly and faithfully with you.”” (Joshua 2:9–14, NASB95) … “However, Rahab the harlot and her father’s household and all she had, Joshua spared; and she has lived in the midst of Israel to this day, for she hid the messengers whom Joshua sent to spy out Jericho.” (Joshua 6:15–25, NASB95)

In the New Testament, we see three references to this woman. The first is in Matthew 1:5 where she is included in the lineage of our Lord. “Salmon was the father of Boaz by Rahab, Boaz was the father of Obed by Ruth, and Obed the father of Jesse. Jesse was the father of David the king.…” (Matthew 1:5–6a, NASB95) Then the writer of Hebrews added, "(31) By faith Rahab the harlot did not perish along with those who were disobedient, after she had welcomed the spies in peace.” (Hebrews 11:31, NASB95) And James wrote, "(22) You see that faith was working with his works, and as a result of the works, faith was perfected; (23) and the Scripture was fulfilled which says, “And Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness,” and he was called the friend of God. (24) You see that a man is justified by works and not by faith alone. (25) In the same way, was not Rahab the harlot also justified by works when she received the messengers and sent them out by another way? (26) For just as the body without the spirit is dead, so also faith without works is dead.” (James 2:22–26, NASB95)

The last of the three specific women I looked at was Ruth. Not taking the time to review the whole account which is only four short chapters long, here is the encounter between her and Boaz when she discreetly came to him to ask him to fulfill the role of kinsman redeemer.  “It happened in the middle of the night that the man was startled and bent forward; and behold, a woman was lying at his feet. He said, “Who are you?” And she answered, “I am Ruth your maid. So spread your covering over your maid, for you are a close relative.” Then he said, “May you be blessed of the LORD, my daughter. You have shown your last kindness to be better than the first by not going after young men, whether poor or rich. “Now, my daughter, do not fear. I will do for you whatever you ask, for all my people in the city know that you are a woman of excellence. “Now it is true I am a close relative; however, there is a relative closer than I. “Remain this night, and when morning comes, if he will redeem you, good; let him redeem you. But if he does not wish to redeem you, then I will redeem you, as the LORD lives. Lie down until morning.” (Ruth 3:8-13) And, of course Ruth was also used by God in the lineage of our Lord, Jesus Christ.

All three of these women did bold things, and we know that some of what they did was not proper. But each of them evidenced an excellence of character that flowed from within such that their praise would continue even today. These are the women of old who set a path for women of God today. In closing I am going to include one snapshot and one longer glimpse into the Old Testament we read in Proverbs about what really should mark the heart and actions of a woman of God who stands firm in her faith even when times are hard.

On the negative side we read, “It is better to live in a corner of the housetop than in a house shared with a quarrelsome wife.” … “It is better to live in a desert land than with a quarrelsome and fretful woman.” (Proverbs 21:9, 19, ESV)

Positively, “An excellent wife who can find? She is far more precious than jewels. The heart of her husband trusts in her, and he will have no lack of gain. She does him good, and not harm, all the days of her life. She seeks wool and flax, and works with willing hands. She is like the ships of the merchant; she brings her food from afar. She rises while it is yet night and provides food for her household and portions for her maidens. She considers a field and buys it; with the fruit of her hands she plants a vineyard. She dresses herself with strength and makes her arms strong. She perceives that her merchandise is profitable. Her lamp does not go out at night. She puts her hands to the distaff, and her hands hold the spindle. She opens her hand to the poor and reaches out her hands to the needy. She is not afraid of snow for her household, for all her household are clothed in scarlet. She makes bed coverings for herself; her clothing is fine linen and purple. Her husband is known in the gates when he sits among the elders of the land. She makes linen garments and sells them; she delivers sashes to the merchant. Strength and dignity are her clothing, and she laughs at the time to come. She opens her mouth with wisdom, and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue. She looks well to the ways of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness. Her children rise up and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her: “Many women have done excellently, but you surpass them all.” Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised. Give her of the fruit of her hands, and let her works praise her in the gates.” (Proverbs 31:10–31, ESV) 

Sunday, March 5, 2017

Beauty from the Inside Out (1 Peter 3:3-6)

“Your adornment must not be merely external—braiding the hair, and wearing gold jewelry, or putting on dresses; but let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the imperishable quality of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is precious in the sight of God.” (1 Peter 3:3–4, NASB95)

Remembering that these verses are a continuation of the previous two, they are directed specifically to wives in relation to their husbands. Here Peter speaks to the wives’ overall “adornment” or “adorning.” In Greek the word translated as adornment is “kosmos.” It has the meaning of the whole order of things as we see them in the universe around us. It is the arrangement that includes both the good and the bad, the outside and the in. It is the whole picture. While we might be tempted to think in astronomical terms, this word also is at the root of a major industry known to women (and men) around the world. From the Greek word “kosmos” we move to “kosmein” (Greek, to arrange or adorn) to “kosmētikos” (Greek, being skilled in adorning or decorating) to “cosmétique” (French) to the 17th century English word, “cosmetic.” In a modern dictionary, I read the adjective meaning of “cosmetic” to be “serving to beautify; imparting or improving beauty, especially of the face” ( In these verses, the wife’s kosmos is how she presents herself to her husband and to those who observe them together.

Paul wrote that the wife is not to make her adorning be something merely (an added word by translators) seen on the outside as in the braiding or otherwise dressing up of her hair, or found in the jewelry she wears or the nature of her clothing. These definitely enhance the wife’s appearance and are appreciated by husbands, but they are not all there is. Women are more than works of art. They are intentionally designed and created by God in His image. And, it is in the marriage relationship that the man joins with the woman for them to become one as husband and wife. This is a oneness that reaches to the core of who each of them uniquely are as their depths are shared fully with each other.

Last night Robin and I went on a date, and I was a happy man to be with her as she dressed herself for the occasion. She is a beautiful woman, and I am thankful that she chose me and wants to be with me. I am thankful that God designed us to be attracted this way to enjoy each other, and should you have any question here take some time to read the Song of Solomon. I am a truly blessed man. And while I greatly admire Robin’s outward beauty, I love her the most because of who she is from her very core as a woman who loves our Lord and of course me.

Paul wrote that the wife is to make sure that her beauty is truly more than skin deep. “…but let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the imperishable quality of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is precious in the sight of God.” This can be contrasted to the religious leaders of Jesus’s day to whom He said, “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you clean the outside of the cup and of the dish, but inside they are full of robbery and self-indulgence. You blind Pharisee, first clean the inside of the cup and of the dish, so that the outside of it may become clean also. Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs which on the outside appear beautiful, but inside they are full of dead men’s bones and all uncleanness. So you, too, outwardly appear righteous to men, but inwardly you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.” (Matthew 23:25–28, NASB95) These men were all about the show. They were imposters. They dressed one way while their hearts were directed another. They were about the show, but in reality, they had nothing to show.

Jesus set a drastically different example, and wives (and all of us) who belong to Christ and who have known His great love are to live to reflect Christ in the way they live their lives. Notice the contrast between the outward person who dresses to impress and the inward heart of the person which cannot be seen. We have the life of Christ in us. The moment we are saved we are sealed and permanently indwelt by the Holy Spirit. We are made a new creation. As far as the world knows, not a single thing about us has changed. We don’t get an instant halo. Our hair doesn’t begin to glow. We don’t walk a foot off the ground. We aren’t healed of all our ailments. Struggles don’t disappear. Physically we look the same, but, despite what people might see, the spiritual reality is that everything about us has been changed. God has begun a work in us, and this work will begin to flow out in every area of our lives. It will show. It will show in how we respond to setbacks and disappointments. It will show in how we respond differently to situations. It will show when the corners of our mouths turn up instead of down, when we show compassion or lend a hand, and when we have a bounce in our step even when we might not be able to physically take a step any longer.

Peter doesn’t condemn outward adornment, but he does condemn a preoccupation with it to the neglect of inward Christ-like character. The harsh reality is that our bodies are in the process of going downhill, and the effort to keep them looking good requires more and more energy as time goes by. Where once skin was smooth, wrinkles now appear. Where once our energy was seemingly limitless, we now grow weary much more quickly. In the eternal scheme of things our bodies will be gone in a moment. They simply won’t last. That’s the truth, and there is no changing it. But the work that God does in us as we grow in Christ will not fade, and in fact will continue to grow and even become more evident as our own personal weakness grows. “Therefore we do not lose heart, but though our outer man is decaying, yet our inner man is being renewed day by day.” (2 Corinthians 4:16, NASB95)

Later in 2 Corinthians Paul wrote, “And He [Christ] has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ’s sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong.” (2 Corinthians 12:9–10, NASB95) In the next chapter Paul concludes the letter with, “Finally, brethren, rejoice, be made complete, be comforted, be like-minded, live in peace; and the God of love and peace will be with you.” (2 Corinthians 13:11, NASB95) Notice the contrast?

In 1 Peter 3:1-2 we read about how the wife may impact her husband by the conduct of her character. It is her character that endures forever, and in these verses we see the priority of the beauty growing from within that far surpasses the beauty from without. These are the things that are precious in the sight of God who knows us inside and out.

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to obtain an inheritance which is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away, reserved in heaven for you,” (1 Peter 1:3–4, NASB95)

“The Lord knows the days of the blameless, and their inheritance will be forever.” (Psalm 37:18, NASB95)