Consider Your Commitment
1 Peter 3:8
If you are in Christ, you are called to a community of believers. The church is God’s design, imperfect as its people may be. He has designed believers to be in community with one another for the purpose of encouragement and accountability. Unfortunately, our commitment to this community falls shorts of God’s design. In 1 Peter 3:8, we see five qualities or attitudes every believer must commit to in order to cultivate the kind of community God has called the local church to.
Commit to Unity over Uniformity
First, Peter reminds us that we must have “unity of mind” in the local church. That is, we must have a unified mindset and mission as a church, namely the gospel of Christ and glory of Christ in all we do.
However, our tendency is to prefer uniformity over unity. Rather that unified commitments around the gospel, we tend to desire uniformity in personality and practice. If someone doesn’t think as you do or have similar habits as you do, it’s easy to distance yourself from them or became easily irritated or indignant towards them. Christ has called us to lay aside our desire for uniformity and to commit to “unity of mind.”
Commit to Sympathy Over Pity
Second, Peter reminds us that we must have “sympathy” towards one another in the local church. In the original language, this word literally means “feel together.” That is, we must learn to rejoice together and weep together (Rom 12:15), and remember the sympathy Christ has had towards us by living as we lived and dying in our place.
However, our tendency is towards pity over sympathy. We tend to listen, but not linger with someone suffering. We feel bad, but not burdened for them. Christ has called us to feel one another’s burdens by committing to “sympathy.”
Commit to Family Over Familiarity
Third, Peter reminds us that we must have “brotherly love” towards one another in the local church. Just like your normal family, you don’t get to choose your family members nor can you truly control them. Nevertheless, you sacrificially and unconditionally love them.
However, our tendency is towards preferring mere familiarity over deep family connections. We tend to treat one another like strangers, not siblings, as evidenced by our low sacrifice for one another. Moreover, we tend to treat each other like mere friends, not family, as evidenced by our low commitment to one another. Christ has called us to love one another unconditionally by committing to “brotherly love.”
Commit to Compassion Over Convenience
Fourth, Peter reminds us that we must have a “tender heart” towards one another in the local church. In the original language, this word means have “good guts or bowels” towards one another, which is striking imagery! In the days of the New Testament, the guts were regarded as the deepest seat of emotions. This is akin to our expression: “I have a gut feeling.” In short, we are called to deep compassion towards one another. We should be tender towards one another, especially in the face of sin, inconvenience, and suffering they may be working through.
However, our tendency is towards convenience or compassion. We are prone to care only when it’s efficient. Otherwise, we claim to be too busy. We are prone to care only if it’s easy. Otherwise, we claim their struggle is too much for us to bear. Christ has called us to sacrificially have compassion towards one another by committing to having a “tender heart” towards one another.
Commit to Deference Over Preference.
Fifth and finally, Peter reminds us that we must have a “humble mind” towards one another in the local church. Humility was regarded as a sign of weakness in the Greco-Roman world. But the Bible is replete with examples of humility being a counterintuitive sign of strength. Who amongst us is not drawn towards those who demonstrate humble charity towards others? Who doesn’t love a considerate, others-oriented person? There is something magnetic about this quality, exemplified chiefly by Christ Jesus Himself.
However, our tendency is towards preference over deference towards others. We are prone to inordinate self-confidence, claiming our opinion to be superior to others. We are prone to inordinate self-defense, concerning ourselves with our interests over others. Christ has called us defer to others in the local church by committing to having a “humble mind.”
In short, if you have not been a part of a local church in some time or are considering leaving your current church, I encourage you to look in the mirror of God’s Word and consider whether you are committed to these things. Don’t judge your church by whether others are living in light of these commitments. Look within. Commit today to embody 1 Peter 3:8 and watch God move in and through you for the glory of His name and the good of the local church He has called you to.
Dr. Kyler Smith, Senior Associate Pastor
Hickory Grove Baptist Church