loving relationships

For those who are following along as we study 1&2 Peter this summer, here is a recap of our chat about lesson 6. . . .

THIS WEEK’S DISCUSSION – 1 Peter 3

Our conversation continued last week’s thoughts about accepting GOD-appointed authority – this time within the family unit.  The LORD calls men to hold a position of leadership and care for their families, to love their wives self-sacrificially and honorably, as Christ loves the church.  Peter speaks to wives as well, encouraging them to follow Christ’s example.  He submitted to the Father, even though the Father and the Son are equally GOD.  Men and women share equally in the gracious gift of life in Christ, yet GOD calls women to acknowledge and respect men as their leaders, who are responsible to the LORD for them. 

It was good to remind one another that our choice to respect those in positions of authority is not based on another human’s merit or worthiness of our respect, but ultimately a choice to submit to GOD’s design.  The LORD will bless us when we choose to honor Him with a heart that respects and honors those He has placed in positions of responsibility.  What a difference it can make when one or both people in a marriage adopt the mind of Christ (as we discussed last week), when we love and care for one another in a way that reflects the heart of GOD.

This third chapter in 1 Peter also prompted discussion about relationships in general.  Marriage is a prime example, but the principles apply to all types of relationships.  It is both encouraging and sobering to realize that we can impact those around us – positively, but also negatively.  Peter encourages believers who are married to unbelievers to faithfully display the heart and character of GOD, winning the trust and respect of unbelieving spouses by their honorable behavior. 

In truth, the best gift we can give to anyone we care about is to make sure our own hearts are in line with the LORD’s.  From that place, our attitudes, words, and actions will better reflect His best in any situation.  It is so important, as well, to deeply value our loved one’s spiritual health.  Some good questions to ask ourselves could be:

Do my interactions with this person draw them into deeper relationship and growth in the LORD, or do they distract, discourage, or derail their journey with GOD? 

Am I willing to do everything I can to set them on a path of peace with GOD, spiritual growth, and joy? 

Do I value GOD’s best for my loved one more than my own preferences or comfort? 

Do I love them with sincerity, in a way that delights rather than grieves GOD’s heart?

In our interactions with others – within our families or church and local communities – Peter urges us to act in harmony, with tender consideration and humility toward one another, to impart a blessing rather than retaliation.  He reassures us that GOD will bless us for these choices, granting us a happy life, good days, answered prayer, and His watchful eye upon us.  As in previous chapters, Peter encourages those who are suffering unjust treatment or persecution for their faith.  He compels them to endure those difficulties with patience, to trust GOD will reward their faithfulness to Him. 

Our lesson also points to two examples, in Acts 5 and Romans 8: the early apostles who rejoiced that GOD counted them worthy of suffering for the sake of His Name, and also Christ, who committed Himself to fulfilling GOD’s purpose for Him, regardless of personal cost.  Our Savior is now seated in a place of honor next to the Father.  As mind-boggling as it sounds, Ephesians 2:6 says that GOD has raised us up, too, and seated us with Christ in heavenly places!  As we grasp the eternal reality we possess, what strength it gives us to endure any temporary trial now.

1 Peter 3:15 is a wonderful verse to ponder and memorize!  Peter suggests a pivotal mindset – to honor Christ as LORD and to view any suffering as a priceless opportunity to express the hope we hold in Him!  As His Spirit gives us words to articulate the confidence we have in Him, regardless of dire circumstances we face, our voice grows stronger.  He uses the very things that challenge us the most to grow our faith in Him, to give us a personal experience to share, and the ability to do so with gentleness, compassion, and respect. 

Lesson 6 ends with a fantastic “apply this” section, reminding us that the LORD will never allow pain to be wasted, encouraging us to ask Him for His perspective.  As we hunger to know GOD’s heart, He will help us understand what He wants us to learn and how He calls us to respond to any difficulty we face.

A verse from Ephesians printed at the bottom of my notebook page seemed to be a perfect prayer as we closed lesson 6: “[May we] live a life of love [love for GOD and love for others], just as Christ loved us and gave Himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to GOD.”  Ephesians 5:2

photo credit: Lauren B. Lewis on Flickr

#summerBiblestudy #learningtogether #marriage #husbands #wives #lovelikeHedoes #tenderhearted #humility #gentleness #respect #GODsdesign #hopewehold #lifeoflove #offeringtoGOD #endurepatiently #CommunityBibleStudy #engagingGODsWord

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