The Fruit of Reconciliation- 1 Peter 4:1-11

In our previous post, we have seen that the price has been paid to bring about our reconciliation, that the death of Jesus was the exchange which enabled our broken relationship with God to be restored. We have been reconciled, but what fruit should that reconciliation produce, what change should we see in our lives due to this reconciliation? We will examine 1 Peter 4 in order to see what one aspect of the fruit of our reconciliation with God should be. Peter begins chapter 4 with a “therefore”, which here refers back to 1 Peter 3:18, in which we find that “Christ died for sins” in order to “bring us to God”, or that the death of Christ reconciled us to God. The therefore of verse one thus tells us that since we have been reconciled, this reconciliation should produce something in our lives, and what it should produce is a change in “attitude”. Our attitude should be like Jesus, who was willing to undergo any kind of hardship in order to do the will of the Father, because of His attitude He was able to “restrain himself” (Greek pauo) from sin, from being disobedient to the Father’s will, even if that will meant enduring the cross. We then learn, in verse 2, that this change in attitude will be demonstrated by a change in behavior. This change in behavior involves no longer living “the rest of his earthly life for evil human desires”, no longer living “as the pagans do”, consumed by a desire to satisfy basic human desires (physical, emotional, social, etc.) any way possible. This attitude change produces a lifestyle motivated by a desire to live according to the will of God rather than one driven by desire to satisfy basic human needs any way possible, a lifestyle driven by the desire to do the will of God even if that means hardship. This change in attitude and lifestyle will be readily apparent to all, for those who live this way will be seen as strange, and the world will “heap abuse” upon them. The Greek “heap abuse” here is blapsheme, and it means to revile, defame, slander. Those who live like this will be seen as weird, and will be mocked and scorned by the world. And how does this new attitude respond to that kind of treatment? By not mistreating them in return, by leaving them in God’s hands, for one day they will have to “give an account” to God for their mistreatment of you (verse 5). We are, rather, to preach the gospel to them, for some may accept it and be among those who are “judged according to men” as strange, weird, not too bright, etc., but “live according to God” on the day they do give an account to Him (verse 6). Having told us that those who live according to this attitude will be mistreated, he then tells us how we are to interact with our fellow believers in light of the world’s mistreatment of us. We are, above all, to be “clear minded and self controlled so that you can pray”, we are to keep our focus off the world and its mistreatment of us and keep our focus on God through prayer. Apart from this, none of what follows in verses 8-12 will happen. We are “above all” else, to “keep holding onto love for one another earnestly” (verse 8), for this “covers over a multitude of sins”. The Greek sins here is hamartia, to “miss the mark”. The Greek term here is referring primarily to our “shortcomings”. We all have areas and circumstances in which we miss the mark, in which we come up short, and love here does not treat the shortcomings of others the way the world does. Love does not broadcast the shortcomings of others, it does not use them to take advantage of others, to tear another down because of their shortcomings, but love “covers over” the shortcomings of others. Our attitude has changed, and we are now very aware of our own shortcomings and not so eager to broadcast the shortcomings of others. We also will now use whatever gifts we have to “serve others”, our gifts are from God and are given to us to use to serve others (verse 10). They are meant to be used to serve and build up others, and not to be self-serving and used to build up our own egos, they are to be used to build God’s kingdom, not our own. These gifts come in many forms, but whatever the gift may be and no matter what form it takes, we are given them so that God may do His work through us, ministering to others through us as we use the gifts He has given us. When this happens, we then find that all praise, glory and honor will be given to God (verse 11), for we glorify Him when we do what He created us to do, and none of what we have mentioned above will take place without the change in attitude referred to in verse 1, the change in attitude which our reconciliation brings, but which must be embraced and lived out if Peter’s picture of the Christian life in verses 2-11 is to become a reality in each of our lives.

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