But God’s word remains forever
1 Peter 1:13-2:3 So think clearly and exercise self-control … For the Scriptures say, “You must be holy because I am holy” [Leviticus 19:2]. Remember that the heavenly Father to whom you pray has no favorites. … Show sincere love to each other. … “The grass withers and the flower fades. But the word of the Lord remains forever” [Isaiah 40:8]. And that word is the Good News that was preached to you. So get rid of all evil behavior. Be done with all deceit, hypocrisy, jealousy, and all unkind speech. Like newborn babies, you must crave pure spiritual milk so that you will grow into a full experience of salvation. Cry out for this nourishment, now that you have had a taste of the Lord’s kindness.
In the grocery store Tuesday with Caleb and Talita, I felt embarrassed when suddenly they broke away from me, chasing each other around the legs and grocery carts of other shoppers, yelling at the top of their lungs.
Why did I feel embarrassed? Because they represented me. Their behavior resulted in everyone nearby looking at me askance. They caused discomfort and could have caused harm to themselves and others. And they hindered my objective of getting out quickly so we would have more time to play, since we lost our place in line.
Thanks to Covid, Caleb and Talita have hardly ever been in grocery stores, I realized. They need to be taught proper behavior in that setting. I hadn’t explained to them what was appropriate. Once I did, they were contrite (at least, Caleb was).
We’re our Father’s “kids.” What we do and what comes out of our mouths reflects positively or badly on him just as surely as my beloved grandchildren’s behavior and speech impacted others at the store in their view of me. Fortunately, God does tell us what he expects of us.
True, holiness in speech and behavior—according to Peter, actions and words which show and promote love—is out of vogue in our society among adults who should know better. Damaging and deceitful actions and words are flung about publicly (and, I suspect, privately) as if adults believe they bear no responsibility for the harm they cause.
Peter says, NOOOO!!!! No more of this!! Don’t shame the name of God, claiming him as your Lord, yet “slipping back into your old ways of living to satisfy your own desires” (verse 14).
God has no favorites. He will judge or reward you according to what you do. So you must live in reverent fear of him (verse 17) and love each other deeply, from the heart (verse 22).
Our Father paid an enormous price to save us from empty living: “And the ransom he paid was not mere gold or silver. It was the precious blood of Christ, the sinless, spotless Lamb of God” (verse 19). When we hurt each other, we betray his sacrifice.
So how can we learn to speak and behave differently? Moses (1500 BC), Isaiah (700 BC), and Peter all remind us of the eternal, indestructible Word God has given to teach and guide us. Peter calls it spiritual milk, whose nourishment we babies need in order to thrive. “Cry out for it,” he tells us.
Lord, thank you that your word doesn’t pull any punches. Show me today my need to repent and be cleansed, so I can regard even my “enemies” with your kind of love. Make me hungry as a baby for your life-giving word, to strengthen me for holy, counter-cultural living and speaking that honors rather than shames you, and makes your heart happy.