For “He who would love life and see good days, let him refrain his tongue from evil, and his lips from speaking guile; let him turn away from evil and do good; let him seek peace and pursue it. For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, and his ears are open to their prayers; but the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.”
(1 Peter 3: 10 – 12)
In his first letter Peter lists how to have the Lord of Hosts, the God of Heaven and Earth on your side. It is a list of sorts for being counted among the righteous. I can’t think of a more blessed place to be for as is stated — the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, and his ears are open to their prayers. To know that we are both seen and heard by the Creator of all things is remarkable.
The instructions to accomplish loving life and seeing good days seem simple enough. Do these things if you have love for life and want goodness and fulfillment to overtake you.
First on the very short list is refraining from speaking evil and speaking guile, which is not so simple. If it was simply done, I would have no trouble in its doing, and neither would anyone else. Like everyone else, I would like to believe that I don’t speak evil. And I don’t know a single person that has been proud of any evil that comes out of their mouth. So I think that I am not an evil speaking person just like the rest. But if I should speak evil (and I have) or without authority go against what God has plainly stated, tearing against what is good, then I just may indeed possess that undesirable evil tongue. When a rebellious streak takes over speaking evil is not so hard. When I speak against others or speak evil of them, talking about evil things without thinking; I am found in possession of what I do not want. And the outcome won’t be good. At least, that is how God sees things. He said he turns away from those who do evil. A person who continues to do such things without any consideration as to what he does therefore has no love for life and will not see those good days.
Speaking guile is not something I’m generally familiar with because the word guile has fallen out of common usage. The dictionary says that speaking with guile means you have a stratagem; that you have some cunning or trickery working behind the words. You speak in order to deceive. This is so common in the daily world and in business that it doesn’t require a comment. Peter said to set it aside. Stop inflating things; stop selling the story short to the boss or the wife. Stop tricking people, and stop trying to trip folks up in the details. We’re not spiders and they’re not flies.
Item two on Peter’s (actually David’s) short list is to turn away from evil and do good. Wow, that’s so easy a caveman could do it! If it’s so easy why do we often fall short in the doing part? Remember what Jesus said? The spirit is willing but the flesh is weak. Paul later said, for the good that I will to do, I do not do; but the evil I will not to do, that I practice. Do you suppose Jesus got it wrong, or that Paul was speaking a riddle to the Christians in Rome or simply making a pretense?
Let him seek peace and pursue it. The final activity is also active. Seek peace with others or is it with all (?) and to be constantly pursuing it under the full guidance of a godly disposition. How does anyone get hurt seeking after such things?
So to love life and see good days, I should do certain things in certain ways and pursue after certain activities. I should turn off of the path where I paid no attention to such things and onto the way where the details count and with a purpose behind it all. I must pursue the good and reject the rest.
I suspect that David and Peter did not give us a full list; and just like all of the other things that must be done to please God, this one doesn’t come with little boxes to check off to see exactly when I move from being unqualified and over to the qualified side. There is no eighty-twenty break point.
Yet on the other hand, God does not deliver impossibilities for us to exhaust ourselves working through to no end. Every bit of it can be obtained, but it requires steady dedication and work. It won’t just happen, and it isn’t accidentally approached. Neither is God.
To begin we must be in a covenant relationship with God in the first place. Without a good starting point and without the right foundation, you could get all of the rest just exactly right and never get to the point of loving life and seeing those good days. You would end up having all of eternity to ponder exactly what went wrong; for just like those the Lord spoke of, you would then be saying, `Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ His response was not at all what these folks wanted to hear, now was it? It won’t be the response you want to hear either.
The foundation always begins (oddly enough) with the fundamentals. We must hear the gospel, the good news: the word of God. Then we must build (our) faith in God, in Christ the Savior, and in the life that is offered through obedience. Then we must turn and repent; and confess Jesus as the Son of God and as our Lord. We must be immersed and rise out of that water as if out of a dead and rotten past rising to walk in newness of life. With the newness of life portion comes the opportunity to love life and see good days. And with the proper foundation then set comes the part where we turn ourselves over full time to seeking and loving life and seeing good days – bridling the tongue and moderating our behavior to pursue peace and helping others to find the truth and do the same. We have to be an active participant; and anyone may apply.
We have to go after this along with the rest of those good Christian characteristics with a serious intent and with a will to live; and by seeing the good that God has given around us and into our lives. The reward will come after we leave this frame, but it will be based upon the foundation we have put in place while we were here. And what we love we will pursue relentlessly. So that one day it will be said to us: Well done, good and faithful servant.
At Joppa there was a certain disciple named Tabitha (which is translated Dorcas). This woman was full of good works and charitable deeds which she did. But it happened in those days that she became sick and died. When they had washed her, they laid her in an upper room. And since Lydda was near Joppa, and the disciples had heard that Peter was there, they sent two men to him, imploring him not to delay in coming to them. Then Peter arose and went with them. When he had come, they brought him to the upper room. And all the widows stood by him weeping, showing the tunics and garments which Dorcas had made while she was with them. But Peter put them all out, and knelt down and prayed. And turning to the body he said, “Tabitha, arise.” And she opened her eyes, and when she saw Peter she sat up. Then he gave her his hand and lifted her up; and when he had called the saints and widows, he presented her alive. And it became known throughout all Joppa, and many believed on the Lord.
(Acts 9:36 – 42)
Not everyone who says to Me, `Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven.