Service in the Christian Circle
There are two vast fields for Christian service the one “within” and the other “without.” The one sphere includes all who love the Lord Jesus Christ and the other all those who are outside the circle of Christian fellowship. We learn that we have responsibilities towards both those who are “within” and towards those who are “without.” Peter writes about “the brotherhood” our “brethren that are in the world.” (1 Pet. 2:17, 5:9). He tells us we are to love one another as brethren. In our lesson today we see what should mark us as brethren in Christ.
What a magnificent cluster of Christian graces we find here. Our chapter is a very garden filled with fair and fragrant flowers. How beautiful our lives will be if these flowers are seen in them. LOVE is the first and it is the root out of which all the others grow. Indeed all the flowers belong to the same family, they are all exotic growing in a heavenly soil, and each one is Christ’s love blossoming in our lives. We will take a little journey through the garden together and examine the flowers. We notice they are found in groups of three.
The first triplet is in verses 9-10. Here we have love’s full bloom. Love that is real, not merely in word but in deed; then love that is pure—untainted with sin. The third flower in this group is “brotherly love” the fair flower that sweetens all our intercourse one with the other.
The second three are in verse 11. They are “Christian diligence” for love is not slack; “Christian fervor” for love is not cold; “Christian service” for love is not idle.
The next group is a rare and lovely cluster. Vs. 12. Joy is the first in this triplet, joy that blooms in the sunlight of the blessed hope of Christ’s return. Patience is along side for if the eye is on Christ we can wait. Prayer completes this set, constant steadfast prayer that thrives in the secret place but sheds its fragrance along life’s weary way.
The fourth is also a lovely group. We have three lovely flowers here. Love that sympathizes, love that binds and love that surrenders self. This is very important for self is the greatest hindrance to the growth of all these graces. Only as we keep in the sunlight of Christ’s love will self be surrendered and others enjoy the fragrance of our life of service for our Lord.
Service In The Circle Of The Unsaved Vs. 17-21.
Here we have the Christian and those without. Our conduct towards them should be marked by grace. The grace of God should temper all our dealings with the unsaved.
We should never pay back evil for evil. vs. 17. The evil in this world is to be met by a holy and beautiful life.
We must be sure our conduct is beyond reproach, vs. 17. Stepping out of an elevator one hears these words “Watch your step.” We need to watch our steps because the world does. We must meet its sceptical gaze by honourable conduct.
We must be at peace with all. vs. 18. We are to meet the strife in this troubled world as messengers of peace. If peace is broken it must never be from our side.
We must never avenge ourselves (vs. 19) but leave all things in God’s hand. What a touching appeal is made in this verse. We are entreated by the voice of love to walk in love.
We are to gain our enemies by shewing grace to them. vs. 20. Like the acytelene flame that wraps itself round the steel bar and melts it, love breaks down all opposition.
We are to overcome evil with good. vs. 21.
Good for good is man like
Evil for evil is beast like
Evil for good is devil like
Good for evil is God like.
1. What should be our attitude towards all Christians?
2. What is the secret of a beautiful Christlike life?
3. Why should we be careful in our walk in this world?
4. Why are we not to avenge evil?