Lord, I come to You open and receptive and committed to obedience.
Read 1 Peter 2:11–17
Living Godly Lives in a Pagan Society
11 Dear friends, I urge you, as foreigners and exiles, to abstain from sinful desires, which wage war against your soul. 12 Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us.
13 Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every human authority: whether to the emperor, as the supreme authority, 14 or to governors, who are sent by him to punish those who do wrong and to commend those who do right. 15 For it is God’s will that by doing good you should silence the ignorant talk of foolish people. 16 Live as free people, but do not use your freedom as a cover-up for evil; live as God’s slaves. 17 Show proper respect to everyone, love the family of believers, fear God, honor the emperor.
New International Version (NIV)
Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
ReflectIn this passage, when Peter refers to the readers of his letter as foreigners and exiles, what do you think he means?
On the basis of our new individual and corporate identity (9,10), Peter now urges us to live up to this new status. These verses are not difficult to understand, but living them is a different matter!
How we live is a spiritual issue (11). Outward behavior stems from and feeds into our inner life (soul). Good living will be misunderstood and criticized but ultimately vindicated (12). We live under God’s authority and also state and civic authority (13,14). This can be difficult for all of us at times, and extremely dangerous for believers elsewhere.
Each year Open Doors publishes the World Watch List, showing the 50 most dangerous countries for Christians to live. We must support our fellow-believers in prayer and remember that Peter is writing to those who are “exiles and foreigners”—those who do not feel entirely at home.
Good living has a powerful effect (15). Can you think of a situation when you (or your church) demonstrated such goodness and grace that it changed others’ attitude to life and to God? Pray for new opportunities! And, though we have freedom (16), we still must live in such a way that shows we belong to God and honor him above all.
Give some thought to your church family. What do your family, friends, neighbors, and colleagues think of the church and how you live?
Lord help me to show proper respect to everyone, love the family of believers, fear God, and honor our leaders.