1 Peter – 1 Peter 3:8-12 – 8 of 18
The process of growing up can be painful. There are ups and downs along the way, and from time to time, we skin a knee or bloody a nose from falling on our faces. “Growing up” is the objective of the Christian life as well (Hebrews 5:12—6:1). The believers addressed in Hebrews had grown older in the faith, but they had not grown up! Few things are more pathetic than a believer who is unable or unwilling to feed themselves on God’s Word. First Peter 3:8-12 gives us a nine-point profile for Christian maturity.
 A Unity of Purpose (v. 8 “harmonious”; cf. John 17:21-23). Unity doesn’t 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. 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 the 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.
 A Brotherly Affection (v. 8; cf. John 13:34-35; 1 John 3:14). Look around the room. 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.
 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 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).
 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
 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, they are 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.
 A Life of Purity (v. 11). Once we have pulled in the reins of our tongue, we are to spur ourselves on 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 and do good!
 A Peacemaker (v. 11). Someone has hurt you, ridiculed you, or talked about you behind your back. Are you actively pursuing peace with them? If you are not, you are sinning against them and against God, and you are 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, this week, seek peace with those with whom there is presently tension. Do what you can (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 doing in these areas?
APPLICATION / CHALLENGE
- Rank yourself in the areas that Peter highlights. (see “Digging Deeper” in today’s Talking Points / Walking Points)
- Are you a toddler, a child, an adolescent, or a mature adult? In areas where you are least mature, ask God to help you grow.
- In areas where you are least mature, memorize Scripture. Seek to apply that truth to your life more consistently.
TAKE ONE STEP
Each week, write down one doable concrete step of obedience, small or large, that you will put into practice this week. (James 1:22: “But prove yourselves doers of the word, and not merely hearers who delude themselves.”)