With Blessings Comes Responsibility
1 Peter (Part 2) (by Ben Fronczek)
There will be all kinds of celebrations around the nation on Memorial Day, from parades to picnics, 21 gun salutes at the local VFW halls, to re-runs of old war movies on TV. The day has been set aside to remember and pay tribute to those who have spilled their blood so that we can live free and live the blessed life that we can have in this country, which not many other countries have. But with this blessed freedom comes responsibility. Idealistically, it is to uphold those ideals set forth by our founding fathers.
We should be a free people of law and order and justice. Living according to these ideals honor those who gave up their life for the freedom and blessings we now possess. But, permitting evil, injustice, oppression, prejudice, and the like in our land, and ignoring what our forefathers wanted dishonors those soldiers who gave up their lives for us. The freedom and the blessings we enjoy come with a responsibility to uphold laws and a certain ethical life style. As Christians who are wonderfully blessed by God, those blessings likewise come with responsibilities. This topic brings us to our 2nd lesson in 1 Peter. Just like Americans aren’t free to do and live anyway they want, as Christians we are called to live a certain way which is meant to glorify our Lord.
I Peter 1:13 begins with the word, ‘Therefore’. And when we see the word, ‘Therefore’ at the beginning a new paragraph, it indicates that the reader is about to receive some information based on what he just read in the previous section. And what did Peter talk about in that last section? He reminded those early Christians, and us, how truly blessed we are because of the hope that we have in Jesus. We not only have salvation because of what Christ did for us, even more wonderful and exciting is the fact that God has promised us an inheritance that will never perish, spoil, or fade. It’s waiting there for us in the place we call Heaven. This is the greatest blessing one could hope for, and it’s going to be the greatest adventure we will ever experience. Jesus, Himself said that He is going there to prepare a place for you and me. Now in light of these great blessings; our salvation and heavenly hope, Peter continues on by writing, ‘Therefore’.
“Therefore, prepare your minds for action; be self-controlled; set your hope fully on the grace to be given you when Jesus Christ is revealed. 14 As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance. 15 But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; 16 for it is written: “Be holy, because I am holy.”
So in just 2 verses Peter gives us a list of six responsibilities that come along with the blessings we have received in Christ.
1) To prepare our minds for action
2) To be sober or self controlled
3) To set our hope fully on the blessings and grace given to us
4) To live as obedient Children
5) To choose not to conform to the evil desires we had when we lived in ignorance
6) And to live a holy life style, because our Lord, our new Master is holy
With blessings come responsibility.
In the last lesson I mentioned the fact that Peter probably wrote this letter to those early Christians because they needed encouragement because they lived during a very difficult time. It was easy to get discouraged and down in a frump. He knew that from experience, so he began his letter with these words of encouragement and hope. But he doesn’t stop there. Now that he has caught their attention with these encouraging words of hope and blessing he tells them,
‘Now you need to prepare your mind for action.’
I don’t know about you, but when I am down in a frump or depressed I have a tendency to shut down a bit. I am less enthusiastic about doing anything and can become a bit self-centered. But the more I am encouraged, the more excited I am about who I am as a Christian, as a child of God, and the more I am reminded of the blessings that my God has in store for me, the more enthusiastic I become and more I want to serve Him. Next Peter tells us to get control of our mind,
‘be self controlled.’ Some versions say, ‘be sober, ‘Keep sober in spirit,(ASV)’ ‘Think clearly and exercise self control (NLT)’
In other words, now that you have been reminded how blessed your really are and what you are going to get in the end, get your head screwed on right, and get your mind and body under control. There is a battle going on to take control of your mind, the devil wants to rob you of the joy, and peace of mind you should have as a Christian. Peter tells us to sober up, get that mind under control again. And the very next thing he tells us is to keep your mind set on not only the grace He has already shown us, but also on the end prize.
In Phil. 3 Paul wrote,
“12 I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. 13 Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. 15 All of us who are mature should take such a view of things.”
Paul not only lived to serve Jesus, based on this text he lived and looked forward to win the prize or get what God has promises each and every one of us who have accepted Jesus; that heavenly reward. Paul goes on to say that all mature Christians should take that same view or live like that.
In other words, stop focusing on your past failures. Stop focusing on all the negative and all the problems in this world. Stop focusing on all the heart aches and pain which will ultimately bring you down. Instead, look forward, and keep your mind on the prize. And keep pressing on to win that prize If you learn to do this it will make you Christian walk so much easier. I personally believe this focus, this hope, is what sustained those early Christians, and gave them the strength they needed in times of great persecution. They did not live for the day of suffering, but rather for the day they would enter glory. Peter does not stop there. Now with this mind-set; focused on the grace given us and the hope we have, he tells those early Christians and us as well that we need to become like obedient children.
You have a choice. As a Christians, you can live your life and act like a disobedient child who will not obey his parents, teacher, or anyone else. And like that child you will not only cause pain and heart ache to others, you will also become miserable, unhappy, and discontent yourself. Or you can become like the obedient child who does their best. In doing so you will receive honor and praise from others and you will feel good about yourself, and will have peace of mind. Negative actions and thoughts will only produce negative results. You will reap what you sow.
So Peter instructs that we should strive to become like those obedient children. More specifically he tells us not to go back to the evil desires you had before you were a Christian, or before you knew about Christ, when you lived in ignorance and didn’t know better or even care. As you can imagine those things will only pull you down to where you were before.
This is why Paul wrote in Ephesians 5:8-15,
“8 You were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light 9 (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth) 10 and find out what pleases the Lord. 11 Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them. 12 For it is shameful even to mention what the disobedient do in secret.
15 Be very careful, then, how you live —not as unwise but as wise, 16 making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. 17 Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is.”
Peter’s final recommendation here is this, he wrote,
“Just as He who called to us holy, so be holy in all that you do. For it is written, be holy, because I am holy”
With our mind now focused on Jesus, and focused on amazing grace that God has shown us, and focused on the wonderful hope that we have in Heaven, we not only have the strength to become like obedient children, we have something to motivate us to become holy, like God. In between the lines I can almost hear Peter saying, ‘Come on guys, if I can do it, the guy who denied even knowing Jesus three times, then so can you.’
I believe that this is a super natural power that Christians are given when we believe and accept God’s grace and love, and when we accept our position in Him, and we REALLY look forward to our heavenly home. It’s life changing! When we choose to live like this, it honors Jesus and His sacrifice on the cross. It doesn’t dishonors Him because it is achieving His ultimate goal of truly saving your soul from the evil and sin of this world. We must always remember, with ever blessing comes with responsibility. And our responsibility is to take hold of what He has given us, and let it strengthen us, and let it help us get through this life by honoring Him by how we live.
For more lessons click on the following link: http://granvillenychurchofchrist.org/?page_id=566