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Living and Loving the Good Life - Continued

Good Morning Beloved,

Is such a joy to have you all here with us today.
You're all such a blessing. Thank you for joining us.

Heavenly Father,

Thank You today for Your Word, because Your Word is truth and life
You have given it to us with such great clarity that any man, though he be a fool, need not error
Today. we live in a society that struggles to define morality, what is immoral, at the same time fiercely denying the truth of Scripture, denying You, denying Christ, and denying sin.  Oh, how hopeless they are.  Help us to be the living example of Your Holiness to the world.  Lead us to victory over the sin that so easily entangles us, to position our minds on what it did to Christ for us, what it always does to You and always has done, rebelling, and what it has done to a lost humanity, may we run from it, shunning it, and instead aggressively pursue the righteousness and holiness of Christ.  Set before us the sin in our lives, and convict of us. Help us, O precious Lord, to deal honestly with our own hearts, repent and Your forgiveness, and return to a righteous path, for Christ's sake.
In Jesus' name

"Now finally, all of you should be like-minded and sympathetic, should love believers, and be compassionate and humble, not paying back evil for evil or insult for insult but, on the contrary, giving a blessing, since you were called for this, so that you can inherit a blessing. For the one who wants to love life and to see good days must keep his tongue from evil and his lips from speaking deceit, and he must turn away from evil and do what is good. He must seek peace and pursue it, because the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous and His ears are open to their request.
But the face of the Lord is against those who do what is evil."

Beloved, please open with me, your Bibles for the continuation of our study in the marvelous epistle of I Peter. Today, we'll be closely examining chapter 3, verses 8 through 12, I Peter chapter 3Let me read our text for you. In verse 8 and following, the apostle Peter writes, "Now finally, all of you should be like-minded and sympathetic, should love believers, and be compassionate and humble, not paying back evil for evil or insult for insult but, on the contrary, giving a blessing, since you were called for this, so that you can inherit a blessing. For the one who wants to love life and to see good days must keep his tongue from evil and his lips from speaking deceit, and he must turn away from evil and do what is good. He must seek peace and pursue it, because the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous and His ears are open to their request. But the face of the Lord is against those who do what is evil."

Now the primary component to our is found in the phrase in verse 10, "For the one who wants to love life and to see good days," The implication here, is that if you do this, you will learn to love life and see good days. Now, I'm sure you are already aware, this is the second part 2 in our study of this text. In it, Peter tells us what one must do in order to live and love the good life. Obviously, our culture today has it's own thoughts and opinions of what the good life is, and we know it  differs significantly from that in the Scripture. To the world, he good life, is essentially based upon power, wealth, health, possessions, sex, prestige and a variety of other things. The world's preconceived notion of what is the good life is consists of material, temporal possessions, things which can be bought, but beloved, is that really the basis of the good life? And how do material possession cause us to love life? How does ideology inaminanent objects insure our having good days?

Before we begin, today's study, allow me to quickly run down what we have previously discussed in our earlier study. Last time, we examined the testimony of Solomon, who had so much wealth that the Queen of Sheba saw it and it says that she was breathless. She was enamored by his impressive portfolio of houses, lands, gold , his power and prestige,  and, Scripture records, it took her breath away. And we read, in Ecclesiastes 2:17, that Solomon, said, "I hate life because everything is futility..." Solomon had everything that our modern materialistic society today, perceives as the good life, and yet, he hated. And, it is just as unfortunate, that the majority of those who possess all of these "material things," aren't either. Stastics show a significant increase of suicides among the rich and famous. True joy can only be obtained through Jesus Christ, and get this, He freely "gives" it to all who would believe and confess His name.

Let's turn back to Ecclesiastes chapter 1, to take a closer look at what was the heart of the man who seemingly had it and yet hated life. In verse 12, and following, "I, the Teacher, have been king over Israel in Jerusalem. I applied my mind to seek and explore through wisdom all that is done under heaven. God has given people this miserable task to keep them occupied. I have seen all the things that are done under the sun and have found everything to be futile, a pursuit of the wind."

In other words, Solomon is telling us, "I tried to evaluate life, because  I wanted to look at everything on the earth and try to discern it, to try to figure out, what is required to pursue the good life. "I have seen all the works which have been done under the sun and behold, all is vanity and striving after wind." Solomon, then shares with us what he has discovered, his words are very profound, and are particularlly useful for the society in which we live today. The first thing he says, is that the good life is not found in great accomplishments. I looked at all of the great things that have been done, all of the works, and it was nothing. It provided nothing. It was all vanity, chasing after wind."

Then in verse 16, he says, "I said to myself, “Look, I have amassed wisdom far beyond all those who were over Jerusalem before me, and my mind has thoroughly grasped wisdom and knowledge." I applied my mind to know wisdom and knowledge, madness and folly; I learned that this too is a pursuit of the wind." So he's saying, I thought the good life might be found in great accomplishments, it wasn't. I thought the good life might be found in education and again,  I found it not. And so,  then, I became wiser than any other creature on the planet. Yet, again, I found no satisfaction in them either. Then in chapter 2 he tried something else. He said, "I said to myself, "Go ahead, I will test you with pleasure; enjoy what is good." But it turned out to be futile. I said about laughter, "It is madness,” and about pleasure, "What does this accomplish?"

And what I discovered, was that was not the good life. The good life wasn't found in any of these great accomplishments. The good life wasn't in great education. The good life was not found, even in pleasure. Then in verse 3, he said so I came up with another idea. "I explored with my mind how to let my body enjoy life with wine and how to grasp folly—my mind still guiding me with wisdom—until I could see what is good for people to do under heaven during the few days of their lives." I tried alcohol and drugs, if you want to put it in the vernacular.  Maybe the good life was in those things, substance. And it too, provided no good. It provided no good. I could see what good there is for the sons of men to do under heaven the few years of their lives." It doesn't occur. It doesn't happen. All of it, provided nothing.

And then, Solomon says, I have another idea. In verse 4,"I increased my achievements. I built houses and planted vineyards for myself. I made gardens and parks for myself and planted every kind of fruit tree in them. I constructed reservoirs of water for myself from which to irrigate a grove of flourishing trees. I acquired male and female servants and had slaves who were born in my house. I also owned many herds of cattle and flocks, more than all who were before me in Jerusalem. I also amassed silver and gold for myself, and the treasure of kings and provinces. I gathered male and female singers for myself, and many concubines, the delights of men." 

I tried it all, possessions, pleasures, and sex, I became greater than any man before me in Jerusalem and my wisdom remained with me through it all, and did I find it there, in those things? No. He says in verse 10, "All that my eyes desired, I did not deny them. I did not refuse myself any pleasure, for I took pleasure in all my struggles. This was my reward for all my struggles. When I considered all that I had accomplished and what I had labored to achieve, I found everything to be futile and a pursuit of the wind. There was nothing to be gained under the sun." 

Solomon says, "the good life wasn't in any of those things." So, here we have Solomon, the richest man that has ever lived, the wisest man that has ever lived. Nothing, and no one, up until that time had surpassed him in wisdom, in material possessions nor in the expression of pleasure. And in all that he accomplished, still it wasn't there. Then in chapter 4, he says, "So I admired the dead, who have already died, more than the living, who are still alive. But better than either of them is the one who has not yet existed, who has not seen the evil activity that is done under the sun." 

Is that morbidly depressing or what? I mean, here is the wisest man who ever lived, and he thought the good life consisted in all of these material possessions, when he finally exhausted his search, running the gamut, he concluded, that he hated his life, he hated it. And I admired the dead and even better off than the dead were the people who never lived because they never even had to be a part of this unfulfilling, futile life. It just doesn't get much worse than that.

So then, that begs the question: What is the good life? Where does one find it? And how do we get it?  So now, let's turn to I Peter 3 and find out, shall we. A few simple reminders here. But the good life basically is attached not to the materialistic objects that you possess but to your attitudes. Your attitudes.  It's a matter of how you approach life, attitudinally, it's how you think. If you will recall, the believers to whom Peter was writing, were not in the same situation as Solomon, in fact, they weren't well off,  they were deprived. They were probably, for the most part, very poor. They were definitely persecuted. They were rejected. They were tempted. They were under trials. They were living in situations of grave danger. They were in a hostile environment that did not tolerate them. Life was extremely difficult. They had not one of the things that Solomon pursued. And yet he tells them that if you really want to love life and see good days, this is how. Man, had we really ought to run to find this answer. How important is this? Just think about it.

Peter says, first, in order to live and love the good life you have to have the right attitude, look at verse 8. It starts with the right attitude. You're all to be harmonious, sympathetic, brotherly, kind-hearted and humble in spirit. And what Peter is saying here, as you will remember, is that every Christian is going to find life rich and every Christian is going to find life rewarding and every Christian will live and love life if he follows those things that are mentioned in verse 8If he is conciliatory, if he is peacemaking, if he is sympathetic, sensitive to the pain of people and their joy, if he is sacrificial in serving others with love, if he is tender, compassionate, kind, merciful and does it all with humility, that's the summary of verse 8. If you have the right kind of attitude, you'll live and love the good life. It isn't found in what you possess, it's having the right attitude, it's basically how you approach life.

But, there must be something more to it than that, right? There has to be more to it than just having the right attitude. There is, according to Peter, it is the necessity of the right response, the necessity of the right response. Notice in verse 9, he says: "not paying back evil for evil or insult for insult but, on the contrary, giving a blessing, since you were called for this, so that you can inherit a blessing.." This is just a rich and wonderful verse.
Peter is saying to all of us, that no matter how you're treated, don't retaliate. If you want to live and love life, first of all have the right attitude and that is the attitude of verse 8, harmonious, sympathetic, brotherly, kind hearted, and humble in spirit. And learning to respond in the proper way, no matter what situation comes your way. It may well be that you're persecuted, rejected, distressed, going through various trials, temptations, testings. It may be that you are treated unfairly and abused. It may be that you're unjustly treated as were the Christians to whom he wrote. But the right response is no retaliation.  That sums up verse 9, no retaliation, no retaliation; abstinence from revenge, vengeance, retaliation.  To state it simply, not returning evil for evil. That is a term, really here it is a present participle but it's used as an imperative in a command mode and it could even be translated "stop returning evil for evil,” Don't do that, and if you are doing it, stop! Stop doing it.

The word evil, is the Greek word kakos, which means having  bad quality or a bad disposition. It's not just a bad act; it's the badness, the inherent badness. And when you are treated with ingrained badness by someone, when you are treated by someone who has a bad or evil or wicked disposition, when someone does evil to you, or has a bad, evil disposition toward you, don't retaliate, do not retaliate. Is that a basic spiritual principle? Sure it is. This really goes all the way back to Matthew chapter 5 and this is just by way of reminder. In verse 38, "You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’  But I say to you, do not resist him who is evil, but whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other cheek.  If anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, let him have your coat, too.  Whoever shall force you to go one mile, go with him two. Give to him who asks of you and do not turn away from him who wants to borrow from you. You've heard it said that you shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy. I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you in order that you may be the sons of your Father." In other words, you'll look like God.  So that others will say, "He must belong to God, because God's like that. And he acts a lot like God."

And, the apostle Paul builds on the teaching of Jesus in Romans chapter 12, verse 14 where Paul says, "Bless those who persecute you. Bless and curse not."  That's very basic to Christianity. Then in verse 17, he says, "Never pay back evil for evil to anyone ever." Don't ever retaliate; just a very simple, direct, basic, biblical principle that will cause you to be able to love life and see good days.

Then in I Thessalonians 5:15, there is another reminder. "See to it that no one repays evil for evil to anyone, but always pursue what is good for one another and for all."  So, don't ever retaliate, don't ever be vengeful. And he's talking here about evil acts, and about evil intent. Then, he takes it a step further with the second statement. "You're not to return evil for evil or insult for insult." Now he moves to the verbal realm. You are not only not to do evil retaliatory acts, but you are not to retaliate with your tongue. Man, is that's tough or what? When somebody lashes out at you, instinctively, you want to lash back. When someone says something to you, and you think of responding with something very hurtful, cutting and clever, you really want to say it and so, you retaliate.

The term insult here means a railing or reviling or a speaking evil. That, too, is an intolerant thing for one who would love life. You see, if you're going to love life, it starts by having a good attitude, an attitude of peace, sympathy, compassion, love, humility. You see, that's a person who is going to be happy, it's actually rather difficult to provoke that kind of person. And then when they're persecuted and treated unkindly, unjustly and with hostility, they have no vengeance and no hostility in them, therefore, they do not retaliate verbally and they do not retaliate in deed, and consequently their hearts remain at peace. They are quiet. No root of bitterness grows up. No anger, no fuming, thumos is the word for that raging anger that wells up within.
So, beloved, if you really want to love life and see good and happy and fulfilling and meaningful days, then deal with the right attitude and the right response in the matters of life. Jesus also taught a lot about this. And we know that Paul learned this, of course, from the Lord, as well as by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. In chapter 9 verse 28 of John's gospel, it says, "They ridiculed him: "You’re that man’s disciple, but we’re Moses’ disciples. We know that God has spoken to Moses. But this man—we don’t know where He’s from!'" And this was typical human retaliation when they were confronted by one who unmasked them. Jesus never did that. There were times when He spoke truth of judgment but He never reacted in anger, He never retaliated in anger. Scripture makes it abundantly clear that that's something we are not to do.

I apologize if I'm moving these rather quickly, but we're running up against the clock, so to speak, with the amount of text we've left to cover. So, I am trying go through these as quickly and as thoroughly as I can here. Where were we...  So in I Corinthians 4:12, it says, "we labor, working with our own hands. When we are reviled, we bless; when we are persecuted, we endure; when we are slandered, we respond graciously. Even now, we are like the world’s garbage, like the dirt everyone scrapes off their sandals.  

So are you getting the picture here? If you want to be a happy person, when you're reviled, mistreated, falsely accused, bless the person who does it. Bless you, just want you to know I appreciate you, thank you for being so concerned. You know, it's amazing when people write me hostile emails or letters, when I send correspondence back to them, I write, "Thank you for your concern, a concern that manifests itself in that way, please pray for me, I appreciate you so much," and so on. 

Beloved, it's amazing how that has a profound impact on people. How? Because it convicts them regarding their own attitudes. But, even if that weren't the case, it's still right not to retaliate. And I do try to always handle it in that way, but I'll be honest, there are occasions, where I too fall short.  
And inadvertently, it's typically with those I love most. And you all thought I was perfect. (smiling.)

Then in I Corinthians 5 verse 11, "But now I am writing you not to associate with anyone who claims to be a believer who is sexually immoral or greedy, an idolater or verbally abusive, a drunkard or a swindler. Do not even eat with such a person." Do you see it? You don't even want to associate with someone who insults people. We're not to even associate with that type of person. They're in a  category of people we are to just avoid all together: coveters, idolaters, drunkards and swindlers.
Christians who harshly, who have mean mouths, Christians who have vengeful or spiteful tongues, it's important to stay away from them. They are bad to associate with, says Paul.
Now, Chapter 6 verse 10, "no thieves, greedy people, drunkards, verbally abusive people, or swindlers will inherit God’s kingdom." Same idea, people whose mouths are full of vengeance, who verbally cast evil at those who somehow get to them or wound them.

Now, I have known many people, who have the attitude, "Well, if I don't get even with 'em, then who will?" Well, Scripture gives us a very clear answer to this question: "Vengeance is mine, says the Lord, I will repay." So, if you're not going to get even with them, what do you do? "love your enemies."  That is exactly the point Peter is making, when he says, "Not returning evil for evil or insult for insult, but giving a blessing instead."  I just love that. "Bless you, oh bless you, I mean really. May God bless you, and those you love." I mean, that's often difficult to do and it's very difficult to receive when you have just given evil to someone, but nonetheless, it's the proper response. They curse you, return a blessing instead.

So what exactly does that mean? What does all that entail? Well, allow to offer a few suggestions here: The first one would be to just love someone unconditionally. To bless someone would be to love them unconditionally. And how do you know that? Well, back in Matthew chapter 5, you remember back there, we just read it, Jesus said you shall love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you. Love your enemies. And that really fulfills the injunction of not returning evil for evil, not an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth. And if someone gives you evil, don't give him evil back. Love him instead. That's the first way you bless someone, unconditional love. Now, some say, "Well is that an emotion?" No, not really, it's more of an act of service. You seek a means to serve them. The best way for you to turn an enemy into a friend, find a way to serve them.

The next thing that I would suggest would be to pray for their salvation because that's what it says in Matthew 5:44, "But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. For He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. For if you love those who love you, what reward will you have?"  So not only love them but pray for those who persecute you. If someone treats you with great hostility and with ugliness, someone persecutes you, you bless them, first, by loving them in spite of the way they are acting and seeking a way to serve them as the expression of love, and second, by praying for their salvation. Do you do that? Because that's very basic. 

Then the third thing is, and this I find most interesting, you bless them by, are you ready for this? You might want to hang on to your hat on this one, by being thankful for them. Yes, that's what I said, by being thankful for them. In other words, the term "bless" frequently found in Scripture means to thank. When we bless God, we thank Him. When Jesus took bread and blessed it, He was thanking God for it.  We say at the table that we're going to bow our heads and say the...the blessing. So there is inherent in this concept of blessing the idea of thanks.

So when someone persecutes you, insults you or treats you in an unjust and an unfair manner, what you want to do, first you love them unconditionally as expressed in some humble act of service.  Second, you pray for their salvation, or if they're saved, you pray for their spiritual growth and progress. Third, you express your thankfulness for them. You guys got that so far? OK, good.

So the fourth way suggestion: You bless a person by speaking well of them, by speaking well of them. OK, do you remember when, well in Luke 1:41, the wonderful account of Mary and Elizabeth, "When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped inside her, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. Then she exclaimed with a loud cry: "You are the most blessed of women,and your child will be blessed!" And here is the idea of blessing is to speak well of. By finding some way to repay their pain with praises.

That brings me to the fifth suggestion of blessing someone; let's run this down, not only to love them unconditionally and demonstrate it in some way of service, pray for their salvation or spiritual progress, be thankful for them and speak well of them, then fifth, seek and desire their well-being, seek and desire their well-being.  And again in Luke an illustration of that particular aspect of blessing, Luke 6:28, "If anyone hits you on the cheek, offer the other also. And if anyone takes away your coat, don’t hold back your shirt either. Give to everyone who asks you, and from one who takes your things, don’t ask for them back. Just as you want others to do for you, do the same for them. If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners love those who love them."  It's the same basic concept as we just saw in this idea of praying for their salvation, only it's extended a little beyond that. Now, Matthew 25:34 is an interesting verse, "Then the King will say to those on His right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.For I was hungry and you gave Me something to eat; I was thirsty and you gave Me something to drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in;'" Blessing is well-being.
So if you want to bless someone when they insult you, love them unconditionally and seek to demonstrate it by some act of service. Pray for their salvation or spiritual growth. Be thankful for them. Speak well of them. And seek and desire their well-being.

Now you know what that all adds up to? You guessed it, the "F" word, right? No! Not THAT one. Forgive, that's the "F" word. Beloved, that's the all-encompassing term because that's what allows you to respond in that way.  It amounts to forgiveness, unselfish, forgiving, gracious, merciful love to someone who harms us.

So, while we're in I Peter, we might do well to turn back to chapter 2, verse 21 for a moment and see the model of Christ where it says, "Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example for you to follow in His steps, who committed no sin, nor was any deceit found in His mouth and while being reviled, He did not revile in return; while suffering He uttered no threats but kept entrusting Himself to Him who judges righteously." That's the way to do it. You just commit yourself to God. You utter no threats back.

Now if you would, listen and pay attention carefully. If Jesus could do that, who was perfect and, as it says in verse 22, never committed any sin, how much more should we be able to do that who are filthy, unworthy sinners?   

In Closing....

So you want to love life? You want to see good days? Then have this attitude. The point is, what you get out of life is predicated on what you feel inside. It all stems from attitude. And your attitude isn't right, life will not ever deliver what you want from it. It takes more than the right attitude, though. It takes a right response to evil and to misjudgment and condemnation and cruelty and unkindness. It takes a right standard, namely the Word of God, and that takes a right motive.

So here we have the proper response. That's it right there! If you want to live life to its fullest and love it, learn to have the right attitude, learn to cultivate the right response. Beloved, there is no other response that is tolerable or acceptable. 

Scripture is very clear at the end of verse 9, "For you were called for the very purpose that you might inherit a blessing." This is a marvelous statement. Let me tell you what it means. You were called, that's your election to salvation. You were elect unto salvation, for the very purpose that you might inherit a blessing. Now hear me out on this thought: This is a free gift. You were elect to receive a free gift. The implication is it was a gift that you didn't deserve, a gift that you couldn't earn, a gift without merit. You were elect by God for blessing. And the point really is that we who have been freely given blessing from God without merit, instead of vengeance from the God we have offended, should know well how to give a free gift of forgiveness to someone else. That's the point. It's a great truth. And shouldn't we all be very anxious to give to someone else the undeserved, unearned, unmerited, free gift of forgiveness because we, ourselves, have received it, from God.

At first glance, revenge indeed often appear sweet to men, but oh, beloved, but when tasted, it is most often, found to be sugared coated poison.

And now may the Lord bless you and keep you;

the Lord make His face shine upon you, 
And be gracious to you;

The Lord lift up His countenance upon you,
And give you peace.

Now and forever, in Jesus' name

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Brian Monzon Ministries

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