Show proper respect to everyone, love the family of believers, fear God, honor the emperor.
We can’t control how other people treat us, but we can control how we treat others.
In 1 Peter 2:17, we’re given four directives for coexisting with those with whom we must interact. When applied, these mandates can help us experience greater peace and harmony within our relationships. And when our kind disposition toward others is rebuffed, we can know we have honored the Lord by our obedience.
Peter tells us very succinctly how we are to behave toward everyone, other believers, God, and government. And he gave his instruction at a time when Christians were undergoing persecution and their movement was unpopular with the general population.
The way we treat others should not be based on the way they treat us. Our behavior is based on who we are, God’s children, and what the Lord has done for us.
(1) Show proper respect to everyone.
Yesterday, in The Forever Notebook, we examined Philippians 2:3, “in humility value others above yourselves…” As Christians, we are to value others and give them god-inspired respect.
It has often been said that respect is earned. But based on the teaching of scripture that common saying is incorrect. Rather, respect is to be given to everyone regardless of how we have been treated. We look to God for our honor and not to man. Respect that is not earned is grace, giving the recipient better than they deserved or earned.
(2) Love the family of believers.
Other believers are worthy of an extra measure of our respect because we share a common bond in Christ. We are family. Of course, even in loving families there is discord. But we learn to work through our differences, keep on loving, and find ways to resolve our conflicts. Just as our individual behavior reflects our witness for Christ, so does our corporate conduct. A church fellowship in turmoil is a liability and not an asset for the Lord’s service.
(3) Fear God.
Without this element in place, the other three will fail. The reason we go the extra mile in our relationships is because of our love, respect, and fear for our Lord.
I’ve heard it said that fearing God shouldn’t be interpreted the same way we normally think of fear. Fear of God is just healthy respect and admiration. However, I submit that fear of God should be taken literally. It means just what it says.
The Bible teaches that we’re to fear God and not man. Our eternal destination can only be determined by God. I don’t know about you, but the thought of eternal torment in hell was frightening, enough to cause me to accept God’s plan for everlasting life with Him in heaven.
Although we are to fear God, He is love. (1 John 4:8) Everything God has done and will do for us has resulted from His perfect love. And as we learn in 1 John 4:18, “perfect love drives out fear…” As Christians we no longer agonize over where we will spend eternity. God’s loving act of redemption has freed us from that fear.
God is our Father, the One who disciplines those He loves. (Hebrews 12:6)
So the fear we have for God keeps us in line, teaches us how better to live a godly life, and is the highest form of honor and respect.
(4) Honor the Emperor.
Well, we don’t have an emperor, although it may seem like it at times. But in context, Peter instructs us to honor our government. We are to follow the laws of our land, pay taxes, and respect governmental authority.
God wants godly behavior at all times, in all circumstances, and in all relationships. He wants His children to be well-behaved peacemakers who reflect His light in a dark world.
Show proper respect to everyone, love the family of believers, fear God, honor the emperor. 1 Peter 2:17
For more on this topic, check out this article: Working for the Lord’s Higher Purpose
Reprinted from The Forever Notebook, Book 3 (July – September) Get your copy here: Paperback and eBook/Kindle formats.