The Fruit of Reconciliation- 1Peter 4:1-12

In 1 Peter 3:18, Peter tells us that Christ died for sins to “bring us to God”, that Jesus death made reconciliation possible between God and man. Having stated the fact of reconciliation in this verse, Peter then examines the fruit of reconciliation in 1 Peter 4, telling us what effect reconciliation is to have in our lives here and now. He begins in verse one with a command, that since Christ suffered in His body, we are to “arm ourselves also with the same attitude”. An awareness and understanding of the fact of our reconciliation is to produce first and foremost a change in attitude, a willingness to be able to accept bodily difficulties for spiritual gain. Christ endured physical hardship in order to obey His Father and accomplish his purpose (our redemption), and Peter here tells us that a proper understanding of our reconciliation is to produce the same attitude in us, that living out God’s purpose and plan for us will be met with opposition and we must be willing to press on in spite of that opposition to do so, just as Jesus had to. Peter then tells us that this change in attitude will then produce a change in our lifestyle. We will then not “live the rest of our lives for evil human desires, but rather for the will of God”, not seeking only to satisfy bodily desires but rather seeking God’s will for our lives. Peter then, in verse 3, tells us that the “pagans” (those who have not been reconciled) live this way, in a compulsive drive to satisfy whatever need or desire they feel at the moment, and that we also lived that way before we accepted our reconciliation. But our attitude has now changed, we now see thing differently, and those who still live that way will “heap abuse” upon us, they will see us as strange, and slander us because of it. Peter then tells us what our response should be toward them, that we are not to slander them back or mistreat them in return , for they will answer to the Lord one day for their mistreatment of us. Having told us first how not to react toward them, Peter then tells us, in verse 7 and following, how we are to act in the midst of this “abuse”. We are, first of all, to be a people of prayer (verse 7), keeping our minds and hearts focused on the Lord in the midst of a world going from bad to worse. We are also, most of all, to “love one another deeply, because loves covers over a multitude of sins” (verse 8). Our lives are to be characterized first and foremost by love, which “covers over a multitude of sins”. What does Peter mean by this, are we to help others cover up their sin? The Greek word sin here is hamartia, literally “to miss the mark”, and Peter uses it here to refer primarily to our “shortcomings”. We all have shortcomings, we all have times where we come up short of what we are to be and what we are to do. Peter is simply telling us here not to “broadcast” the shortcomings of others (that’s how the world apart from Christ operates), not to use them to put others down to make ourselves feel better (also how the world operates), but to realize that we have shortcomings also, and we are rather to work to help one another overcome our shortcomings and be all God wants us to be and do all He intends for us to do. How are we to help one another? Peter tells us in verse 10, where he admonishes us to use “whatever gift we have to serve others”. This is a primary indication that we are living with the change in attitude Peter mentioned at the beginning of this passage, for those who are of the world use whatever gifts and talents they have primarily to serve themselves, for their own benefit and gain. Peter tells us here this should no longer be the case for those who have been reconciled, for the gifts God has given us are intended to be used in service to others. Each of us has been given a unique set of gifts and talents and have a unique purpose and place in God’s kingdom. It is as we minister to (serve) others that we find and live out our true purpose in life, and, according to verse 11, it is in this way that we bring glory to God. Due to our change in attitude, we now realize that everything that exists does so for the glory of God, and that each of us truly glorify God when we do whatever it is He created us to do. It is as we live out the fruit of our reconciliation, as we minister to others in love using whatever gifts God has given us, that we will help bring others to accept the reconciliation God has provided for them, so that they may also discover their true meaning and purpose, and also live to bring glory to God. It is also as we live out the fruit of our reconciliation that we can help others who have been reconciled discover their true purpose in life and place in God’s kingdom.

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