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Wednesday, October 13, 2010

An Approved Life

8-12Summing up: Be agreeable, be sympathetic, be loving, be compassionate, be humble. That goes for all of you, no exceptions. No retaliation. No sharp-tongued sarcasm. Instead, bless—that's your job, to bless. You'll be a blessing and also get a blessing. Whoever wants to embrace life and see the day fill up with good, here's what you do: say nothing evil or hurtful; snub evil and cultivate good; run after peace for all you're worth. God looks on all this with approval, listening and responding well to what he's asked; but he turns his back on those who do evil things.
(I Peter 3:8-12)

We are given a "list" of character traits that we are to exhibit as the children of God.  As we examine them today, we will find that living in such a manner actually encourages God's blessing in our lives.  He is opening us up to living in such a manner, bringing delight to his heart, and in turn, delighting us with the blessing of his presence, constant care, and protection in our lives.

Be agreeable - ouch!  That one tops the list for a reason.  When we live in a manner that is compatible with the character of Christ, we are agreeable.  We are accommodating of others, gracious, and harmonious in our responses.  Why is this so important?  Because it reflects the very grace of God to others.

Be sympathetic - affectionate, appreciative, considerate, and understanding of what the other person is going through.  If your main focus is to be agreeable, it will be easier to be considerate to others.  God wants us to learn to see life through the other person's eyes, instead of judging them from our vantage point in life.  This engages us with their needs and better focuses us on how to pray for them, helping them through their time of need.

Be loving and compassionate - this reflects a responsiveness on our part.  Loving and compassionate people are charitable in their response - kind, considerate.  

Be humble - courteously respectful of others in every way.  No need to pretend you are important - God honors the life that is real, genuine, and unassuming. A life that is humble is genuine - there is a transparency that does not assume we have it all together, but is willing to be opened up before others.

No retaliation - not returning like for like.  It is quite easy to strike out when we have been struck first.  It is quite another things to withhold angry response, returning evil with good.  This comes at about the middle of the list for a reason.  When we are learning to be reflective of the graciousness of a holy God, considerate of others, understanding of their vantage point in life, it is easier to be willing to NOT retaliate when they strike out.  These build upon each other - there is first a change of heart that begins to affect how we interpret life (how we think), followed by a change of action (how we respond).

No sharp-tongued sarcasm - sarcasm is caustic.  It destroys the self-worth of another.  It is usually directed from a heart that has little understanding of being charitable (kind and considerate), struggling with pride (wanting to cover up our own faults by pointing out another's), etc.  God wants his kids to be known for their gentle answer, truthfulness, and their compassionate embracing of the sinner.

The promise to us is that God looks well on those that are working to allow these traits to become part of who we are - he opens the doors of blessing in our lives.  He turns a hearing ear to the heart that wants to live in such a manner - it honors him.  These are tougher than we imagine - yet, with the help of God's Spirit resident within us, they are entirely possible character qualities that we can have worked into the fiber of our being.  Today is a new day.  Give it to God and see what he will do with it!