After addressing slaves, wives, and husbands, Peter concludes his household code with words of advice for the entire church:
“Finally, all of you, be like-minded, be sympathetic, love one another, be compassionate and humble.” (1 Peter 3:8).
Peter tells Christians their relationships with one another should be characterized in five ways:
- Be like-minded. Being like-minded is to live in harmony with one another. It doesn’t mean compromising truth, but it may sometimes require us to compromise our own feelings–overcoming offense, extending grace, and refusing to indulge our own selfishness. Like-mindedness doesn’t require lockstep agreement, but it does demand a commitment to living peaceably with one another, rallying around our shared communion in Christ and passion for the gospel.
- Be sympathetic. Sympathy can also mean suffering with. To be sympathetic is to enter into the experience of another–rejoicing in their joy and grieving with their sorrow. We express sympathy by listening to each other’s souls. Sympathy requires us to surrender our independence and admit our need for one another.
- Love one another. Perhaps as Peter wrote his letter he remembered Jesus’s words at the Last Supper. “A new command I give you. Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another” (John 13:34). The church should not be characterized by bickering or infighting. We are to be family, loving one another with brotherly love and affection.
- Be compassionate. Compassion is showing loving concern to those in need–not ignoring them. Compassion is concern expressed in action. Compassion goes beyond words and expressions of sympathy to demonstrations of care. Compassion is not just said but shown.
- Be humble. Humility is the quality that makes all the others possible. Humility flows from recognizing our dependence on God and that others are equally God’s creation and objects of his love and concern. When we realize that others are cherished by God, we begin to treat them that way.
And why does all this matter? Remember that Peter was writing to Christians who were experiencing persecution and stress. They were facing difficulties in the marketplace, in their relationship with local government, and even within their own homes. In seasons when the church is under pressure, it is vital for our communities of faith to be a refuge. The world tears us up enough. We shouldn’t devour one another behind our own doors. To survive in times of pressure, the church must be the loving community God created us to be. There is strength in our unity. Our tapestry of unity is woven by the threads of our individual decisions and commitment to treat one another with love, honor, and respect. A loving church stands out in a world designed to rip us to shreds. “By this everyone will know you are my disciples, if you love one another” (John 13:35).
So this is the challenge: love one another well. The love we show as God’s people is what marks us as his own.
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