Gospel Gazette, Bible Articles

Vol. 1, No. 12 Page 15 December 1999

Gospel Gazette, Bible Articles

He That Will Love Life,
And See Good Days

By W.A. Holley

[Bible Light, Vol. 18, No. 4, July-August 1999, pp. 3, 7]

“Finally, be ye all likeminded, compassionate, loving as brethren, tenderhearted, humbleminded: not rendering evil for evil, or reviling for reviling; but contrariwise blessing; for hereunto were ye called, that ye should inherit a blessing.  For, he that would live life, and see good days, let him refrain his tongue from evil, and his lips that they speak no guile: and let him turn away from evil, and do good; let him seek peace, and pursue it.  For the eyes of the Lord are upon the righteous, and his ears unto their supplication: but the face of the Lord is upon them that do evil” (1 Peter 3:8-12, ASV).

The foregoing quotation is addressed to those who are Christians; they had already heard, believed and had been baptized into Christ for the remission of sins (Acts 2:36-38, 47; 1 Peter 3:20-21).  In the verses here quoted, we have Peter discussing the duties of Christians one to another.  Note these traits of Christian character:  Likeminded, compassionate or sympathetic, humbleminded or humility (not stuck-up), no doing evil for evil; it is better to suffer wrong than do wrong.  Let’s remember that “the eyes of the Lord” are looking down upon us each day.  We shall make the following suggestions:

A.  Don’t be too concerned about “just desserts.”  Leave such matters in the Lord’s hands.  “Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place to wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord” (Romans 12:19).

B.  Learn to pay little attention to destructive and personal attacks against you (Titus 2:7-8).  Set such a personal Christian example of real Christianity that those who may hear of unjust criticism against you will not be easily persuaded (1 Peter 2:11-12).

C.  Where other people are concerned, manifest a compassionate and understanding affection toward them as is possible (Matthew 5:43-44; Luke 6:27-35).  This is Jesus’ way to win friends and influence people.  Visit and humor uttered at the expense of others can never be worth the effort.

D.  Permit your virtues and accomplishments to speak for themselves, and adamantly refuse to discuss the shortcomings of others (Proverbs 25:16, 27; Ecclesiastes 7:16-18).  Thus, living a life of moderation is far better than going to the extremes.  What we have in mind here is longsuffering.  What is longsuffering?  It is that quality of self-restraint in the face of provocation which does not hastily retaliate or promptly punish.  Matthew Arnold called “moderation” “sweet reasonableness.”

E.  If you would “love life, and see good days,” learn to keep an open mind on all debatable subjects (1 Peter 3:15-16).  Discuss, but do not fuss.  To become angry while discussing the Bible is to turn the other person off.  “Reprove, rebuke and exhort,” but do it in the spirit of Christ (2 Timothy 4:1-8).  It is the mark of a true Christian to be able to disagree with your opponent, yet remain friendly still.

F.  Be cheerful and bright in your outlook on life.  “Smile” is the longest word in the English language.  Cover the “S” and you will see.  Doom and gloom never help.  Be a ray of sunshine rather than a gathering storm.  Hide your worries and disappointments under your “smile-umbrella.”

G.  Manifest an interest in each person whom you meet.  Talk with them about their homes, their pursuits and their religion.  These subjects can open doors.  If you cannot talk with sinners, you can never convert them.  Paul wrote, “Condescend to men of low estate” (Romans 12:16).  What does this mean?  Conybeare and Howson has “suffer yourselves to be borne along with the lowly.”  James MacKnight has “associate with lowly men.”  The Cambridge Greek Testament says, “put yourselves on a level with, accommodate yourselves to.”  An egotist can hardly convert anyone to Christ!  Jesus Christ, the Son of God, talked with all kinds of people, from the lowest to the highest.

H.  Make promises sparingly and keep them faithfully, no matter what the cost.  Vows once made were considered compulsory; but, if the vow is a rash one, it should be corrected through repentance (Numbers 30:2; Deuteronomy 23:21; Ecclesiastes 5:4).  Two examples of rash vows are Jephthah’s vow concerning his daughter and Herod Antipas and his vow concerning John the Baptist (Judges 11:1ff; Matthew 4:1ff).  This writer knew well two sisters, whose father had been an elder in the Lord’s church, but who had apostatized from the truth.  On his deathbed, he made his daughters vow never to become members of the church.  This writer approached them many times urging them to change their minds, but they refused, saying, “We promised our father and we will keep our promise.”  How tragic!

I.  Use your opportunities to speak a kind and an encouraging word to those whom you meet along the way (Galatians 6:10).  This word refers to “a fixed and definite period, a time, a season.”  Many opportunities are lost never to return.  Life is so short.  Why not send a card, make a telephone call, write that friend, that son or daughter, or grandchildren.  Here is one means of doing evangelical work.  How long has it been since you have tried to win a lost soul to Christ?  The Mormons try, the Jehovah Witnesses try, but most of us do very little.  There is a soul to be saved or lost; a heaven to be gained or a hell to be endured.  Which shall it be?  Do we really fear God? (Ecclesiastes 12:13-14).

J.  Initiate a desperate effort to control your tongue.  It is unruly and needs to be bridled (James 3:1-18).  The most difficult mistakes to avoid are those that involve the tongue.  James refers to putting bits in the horse’s mouth.  The lesson is:  Control the mouth and you are in control!  A small helm can control a great ship.

The tongue is very destructive.  It is a “world of iniquity” and “it defileth the whole body.”  A small spark can destroy a house or a forest.  The tongue is inconsistent; it is used to bless God and to curse men.  The phrase, “the tongue can no man tame” is here used metaphorically, but with the help of God almighty, we can do a far better job than most of us are doing.  When James refers to the fountain, the fig tree and vine, he is showing the necessity of the proper use of them.  The tongue is a great blessing when properly used; for with it we preach the unsearchable Gospel of Christ and encourage others to climb higher and higher.

“For he that would love life and see good days, let him refrain his tongue from evil, and his lips that they speak no guile” (1 Peter 3:10).

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