Abundant Life Church (615) 754-7035

In the apostle Peter’s first letter, he gives us a brief passage that is a consummation of thought communicated in the letter up to this point. In chapter 3 and verse 8, he begins the sentence with the word “finally.” The NASB renders this “to sum up.” So, maybe you would enjoy going back and reading the first two chapters of the letter and the first seven verses of the third chapter; go ahead I will wait on you…….oh, you’re back!

In these verses he writes, “ bless…that you may obtain a blessing .” I see in this passage five characteristics of a life that brings blessing. Let us examine them, asking God to help us to incorporate them into our lives, by the help of the Holy Spirit. All of these characteristics have their beginning and root in Jesus Himself. Let us never depart from Jesus being the central character and topic of our doctrine and theology.

First of all, Peter writes “have unity of mind,” or be harmonious. What a great place to start in being a blessing. How could we expect to be a blessing or blessed if we are not walking in unity with the brothers and sisters with whom God has joined us? Paul urged the Philippians to “ be like-minded, having the same love …” Followers of Christ find their place of like-mindedness in the gospel of the cross. You may have heard it said that the ground is level for all at the foot of the cross. The same is true
of the gospel of the cross. The message of the cross always brings us to the end of ourselves and makes us useful to others. There is only one gospel of the cross and we are told in Romans 1 that gospel is “the power of God for salvation.”

I should mention that what we are talking about here is a commonality of the cross and the gospel, without sacrificing individual gifts and emphases the Lord places upon us. I know you have known people (maybe you have been one) that is so given to their particular “garden” that God has assigned them, they wrongly assume if people were hearing God, they would be sowing in the same garden, or one just like it. That is not likeness of mind – but an attempt at uniformity, which is not the same thing as unity.

We are also not necessarily talking about having the same beliefs. I am part of a network of pastors in Wilson County (everyoneswilson.org) that work together and enjoy fellowship. I can certainly attest to the fact that we would not all agree on certain tenets of the faith. There would be parts of the scripture that we would see from a different vantage point.

Nevertheless, they are my brothers, and I walk with them in unity and like-mindedness. It is as the German-Lutheran theologian Rupertus Meldenius said,

“In Essentials Unity, In Non-Essentials Liberty, In All Things Charity.”

We have far too many times allowed the “non-essentials” to be a dividing point among us. Let us focus on the essentials and live with charity towards one another. Of course, I am not advocating fellowshipping with those who have completely departed from the gospel; the gospel is the essential. But, if we will be honest, there are enough essentials that enough of us agree on that we can certainly fellowship with and serve alongside.

Next, Peter writes “ have compassion for one another .” Compassion is an identifier in which we can connect with our brother or sister. Hebrews 4:15 says “ For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses …” And He enables us to sympathize with the plight of our fellow travelers. Paul describes it this way when he is describing the church, using the human body as an analogy tool. “ If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together .” Yes, we are all in this together. Compassion is defined as a close intimate association with suffering – to be joined with someone in their pain or distress. It is the capacity for sharing in the interests of others. It is when we feel what others feel, so that we can respond with sensitivity. We obviously don’t need to base our faith on feelings, but if a saint is dealing with sadness and grief, we need to be sensitive to that and respond according to what they need.

Now we consider the writers exhortation to “ Love each other as brothers and sisters ,” as the New Living Translation renders it. The actual word in the original here is “philadelphia,” which explains why the city of the same name is called “the city of brotherly love.” We are commanded to “agape” one another, with an unconditional love that has nothing to do with feeling or emotions, but is marked by a choice and a commitment. Here we are admonished to be brethren who love one another, in the sense that we have a human fondness for one another. I would submit to you that having “agape” for a brother or sister will certainly cause fondness to grow. This fondness does cause us to have some feelings (hopefully warm ones) towards the members of His body with whom we relate. Because of the new birth, we are children of the heavenly Father and therefore brothers and sisters in Christ. We are not just mere acquaintances, but members of a family, and hopefully a close one. It is God’s design that we are in close proximity to people of God for fellowship and encouragement (assuming you are where you are supposed to be), with whom we can live in “brotherly” love. How can we do this? Paul writes to the Roman church that we should give deference to one another in honor. If we will do that, then loving the brethren will not be a concern.

When Peter wrote that we should be tender hearted or kindhearted, I wonder if he was thinking about the fact that he used a word for sympathetic/compassionate that was very close to this one. Nevertheless, we are encouraged here to be compassionate and caring from deep within. In the telling of the Parable of the Prodigal Son, Jesus describes the deep feelings
of the Father. In the story of the Good Samaritan, He commissioned kind or tender heartedness upon His disciples. I think what he (Peter) was trying to communicate is that we should be in such a state at all times that we are sensitive to the brothers and sisters around us, so that we will be ready to respond alongside them. Also, there is the matter that at this point
in history, the effect of the gospel had not yet had its tenderizing influence on the culture. They were still mostly pagan and therefore dealt with one another as pagans. But over time, the transforming effect of the gospel has influenced every nuance of our society, so that today there are hospitals that began helping people in their needs. Homes for the aged and various other charities and goodwill organizations would never have happened, if not for the impact of the gospel on a culture.

If we are going to bless others and be a blessing, it is certainly incumbent upon us to be humble minded. We must willingly yield and submit to God and His will. We must determine that Jesus is our Lord and King and lay down our lives at His feet. If there is to be like-mindedness, there must also be lowly mindedness. Self-centeredness and self-preoccupation will always get in the way of being obedient to God.


Humility is not thinking poorly of oneself. It is rather having the proper estimate of yourself in the will of God. C.S Lewis said it this way.

“Humility is not thinking less of yourself, it’s thinking of yourself less.”

The person with a humble mind will think of others first before himself. Actually, Paul states this very succinctly in Philippians 2:3 in the Christian Standard Bible.

“ Do nothing out of rivalry or conceit, but in humility consider others as more important than yourselves .”

Then Peter comes back to our original statement when he instructs us to be a blessing so that we can inherit a blessing. He quotes almost verbatim Psalm 34 when he offers these admonishments. Love life, so that you will see good days. Don’t we all want to love life? But do we love the life God has given us and prescribed for us to live? We get a clue when the Scripture declares that if we are going to love life and see good days, we should “ keep our tongue from evil and his lips from speaking
deceit .” What did James write about the rudder of the ship comparing it to our tongue? He continues that we should turn away from that which is unproductive and useless in our lives. How many of us have embraced lifestyles, ideas, attitudes that will not produce godliness in us? Too many of us, I suppose. We are reminded that the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous (you thought He was only concerned with the wicked ?) and listening for our prayers. We were never intended to make this journey alone; but with the aid and support of those around us making the same journey. This lesson is about communicating the character of Jesus to each other. God told Abraham “I will bless you…and you will be a blessing.” We are the conduit by which God blesses others; the cessation of blessing others will clog the pipeline of blessing to us. Let us endeavor to be nothing but a blessing to our fellow travelers.

Here is an old song that speaks to this topic.


BIND US TOGETHER
Bob Gillman/1974


Bind Us Together, Lord
Bind Us Together
With Cords That Cannot Be Broken
Bind Us Together, Lord
Bind Us Together
Bind Us Together In Love
There Is Only One God,
There Is Only One King
There Is Only One Body,
That Is Why We Sing.
Bind Us Together, Lord
Bind Us Together
With Cords That Cannot Be Broken
Bind Us Together, Lord
Bind Us Together
Bind Us Together In Love
Made For The Glory Of God,
Purchased By His Precious Son;
Born With The Right To Be Clean,
For Jesus The Victory Has Won.
Bind Us Together, Lord
Bind Us Together
With Cords That Cannot Be Broken
Bind Us Together, Lord
Bind Us Together
Bind Us Together In Love