I felt like I was unfairly accused the other day, and I don’t respond well to what I consider to be unjust criticism. Some people can roll with it, but that’s not my natural response. If you are interested, you can read about that HERE.
That experience had me on high alert when I was reading 1 Peter. God used a few verses from chapter 2 to challenge my thinking:
Dear friends, I urge you, as foreigners and exiles, to abstain from sinful desires, which wage war against your soul. 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. (1 Peter 2:11-12)
- Naturally, I was challenged by the warning about sinful desires—these are a daily occurrence for me.
- The encouragement to live a good life among “the pagans,” got me thinking: “What do people outside of the church think about me?”
- I wasn’t excited about the connection between my internal sinful desires and my external life among non-believers … I’d like to indulge in the self deception that my private life doesn’t impact my public life… grrrr
As if I wasn’t challenged enough, I read Peter’s teaching about false accusations. I was hoping he would say something along the lines of Paul in Romans 12: don’t take revenge so that you leave room for God’s wrath … serve them, because doing so will heap burning coals on their head. Now that’s something I can get behind: SERVE SERVE SERVE and let God handle the punishment.
Peter adds a new color to the picture. In God’s economy, injustice can be the first step that leads to glorifying God. Consider this for a moment:
The person who criticizes is opening themselves up to glorifying God.
The key is to live a good life. One that is so good, that they may notice your good deeds that they glorify God. There’s a long game here: their glorifying of God might happen on the day God visits us—which is to say, sometime in the future.
Living a good life doesn’t guarantee that the attacker will come to faith, and if it does happen, we may never see it. But there is still a hope we need to have: Live such good life so that your false accusers might come to the faith.
Evangelism for everyone: We don’t need to accost and attack strangers verbally!
Listening to criticism is terrible. However, there are at least two upsides:
(1) The light of your good life shines brighter in the darkness of injustice and unfair accusations.
(2) There’s a possibility that your good life will lead to your attacker glorifying God.
The commands in this passage are connected. We are to see ourselves as foreigners and exiles who are noticed by the locals because we are different and set apart. How are we different? By living the kind of good life that prompts critical accusers to glorify God. This kind of life comes only from fighting against our sinful desires.