1 Peter 2:11-17
A NOTE FROM PASTOR CHARLIE For these devotions from September 5 to September 18, I will be sharing devotions I wrote a couple of years ago for a previous blog. These will not be following the readings for the coming Sunday, but will still offer an opportunity for Bible readings and reflection.
We will be back to the assigned readings for worship once again starting September 19.
1 Peter 2:11-17
Live as Servants of God
11 Beloved, I urge you as aliens and exiles to abstain from the desires of the flesh that wage war against the soul. 12 Conduct yourselves honorably among the Gentiles, so that, though they malign you as evildoers, they may see your honorable deeds and glorify God when he comes to judge.
13 For the Lord’s sake accept the authority of every human institution, whether of the emperor as supreme, 14 or of governors, as sent by him to punish those who do wrong and to praise those who do right. 15 For it is God’s will that by doing right you should silence the ignorance of the foolish. 16 As servants of God, live as free people, yet do not use your freedom as a pretext for evil. 17 Honor everyone. Love the family of believers. Fear God. Honor the emperor.
How do we justify these words when there are examples throughout history of emperors and leaders who have not punished the wrong and have silenced the right? And in our own world today, there is a LOT of noise telling us who is wrong and who is right, and there doesn’t seem to be a clear consensus on that.
The next eight weeks are going to be filled with political ads, news reports and more as we lead up to election day in November. There will be a lot of noise filling our ears and demanding attention of our eyes telling us who is wrong and who is right.
So what do we do with these verses?
Let me offer a couple of things from the Small Catechism written by Martin Luther. Two of the ten commandments -
The Fourth Commandment - Honor your father and your mother.
What does this mean? We should fear and love God so that we do not despise or anger our parents and other authorities, but honor them, serve and obey them, love and cherish them.
The Eighth Commandment - You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor.
What does this mean? We should fear and love God so that we do not tell lies about our neighbor, betray him, slander him, or hurt his reputation, but defend him, speak well of him, and explain everything in the kindest way.
God gives us people to be authorities in our lives, beginning with parents. There is a need for leadership and guidance. And when it is done well for the good of all, it shows.
Secondly, we are to speak well of our neighbor. That seems to be a lost art lately. How can we model this in our daily life?
Let me say this – where this is injustice and cruelty, it needs to be called out and addressed. We are called to care for the neighbor, to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, care for the broken and love one another.
For me, the key verses here are 15 and 16: 15 For it is God’s will that by doing right you should silence the ignorance of the foolish. 16 As servants of God, live as free people, yet do not use your freedom as a pretext for evil.
For freedom, Christ has set us free. Free to love one another.
And finally, may we never forget who the ultimate authority in our lives is – God Almighty, maker of heaven of earth. Trust in God. Love one another.
Dear God, bless those in authority with your wisdom, love and grace. May we always put you first, and follow where you lead. We pray this in Jesus’ name. Amen.