1 Peter 2:11-17
11 Dear friends, I urge you as strangers and temporary residents to abstain from fleshly desires that war against you. 12 Conduct yourselves honorably among the Gentiles, so that in a case where they speak against you as those who do what is evil, they will, by observing your good works, glorify God on the day of visitation. 13 Submit to every human authority because of the Lord, whether to the Emperor as the supreme authority 14 or to governors as those sent out by him to punish those who do what is evil and to praise those who do what is good. 15 For it is God’s will that you silence the ignorance of foolish people by doing good. 16 As God’s slaves, live as free people, but don’t use your freedom as a way to conceal evil. 17 Honor everyone. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the Emperor. — 1 Peter 2:11-17
Living as Temporary Residents and Good Citizens
by Amy Keys
Sometimes I wake up in the morning determined to say and do all the right things to love my family well and represent the love of Christ to everyone around me. I commit to do it, and I know I will...and then the day gets started.
Road rage. Long lines. Technological frustrations. Stress. Problems with the government. Argumentative posts on social media.
Before I know it, I’ve spouted off something ugly that I didn’t mean to say…not out loud, anyway. I was thinking it, but I didn’t really want anyone to know I was thinking it!
Maybe this doesn’t happen to anyone else.
We’re supposed to live with authenticity, though, right? Be real! Take off the mask!
I do want to be real, but sometimes my frustrations, irritations, and impatience are not very Christlike, and they wouldn’t make a God-honoring impression on the unbelievers around me. My authentic self doesn’t always looks like the picture Peter describes in 1 Peter 2.
How are we supposed to submit to authority and honor everyone when we don’t feel kind, or patient, or gracious?
The truth is, we can try to act honorably and always say and do the right things to put on the proper Christian show to the unbelievers around us, but if that isn’t what’s really going on inside, eventually our true thoughts, feelings, and attitudes will rise to the surface—often at the most inopportune and embarrassing times.
The best way—the only way, really—to truly conduct ourselves honorably among unbelievers is to let Christ fill us with Himself. We can’t just commit to become those gracious people who draw others to Christ. We can only continue to give ourselves to Jesus and let Him change us. Let Him give us His perspective. Let Him build within us the patience, graciousness, respect, and honor it takes to live in a culture that is increasingly hostile to us.
Today, instead of making your best effort to appear to love and honor others, sit before the LORD, asking Him to give you the maturity and love only He can place within you. Only He can make us into the dynamic, God-honoring, people-loving witness for Him described in 1 Peter 2.
- Do you tend to feel more compassionate or more judgmental toward the culture around you?
- In your effort to play the part of the good Christian in every circumstance, how accurately do your outward actions reflect your heart?
- What will you do today to allow yourself to be filled with God’s love for the culture around you, instead of trying to manufacture your own love for people?
- Journal a prayer, asking God to help you, in His strength, to truly become the person described in 1 Peter 2.
Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture quotations are taken from the Holman Christian Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1999, 2000, 2002, 2003, 2009 by Holman Bible Publishers. Used by permission. Holman Christian Standard Bible®, Holman CSB®, and HCSB® are federally registered trademarks of Holman Bible Publishers.