1 Peter 3:8: Finally, all of you, be like-minded, be sympathetic, love one another, be compassionate and humble.
Peter’s not giving us a list of things, or a checklist. He’s describing a kind of people. The things that we as God’s people are to be characterized by. This is a portrait that the Holy Spirit is painting for us on what our relationships with one another in the Body of Christ should look like, as well as, giving us further insight into the marriage relationship that he speaks to earlier in chapter 3.
He gives us five phrases that are to describe our relationships with one another and the character we are to reflect and actions we are to pursue. Words that are to describe the family of God.
Like-minded. Meaning harmony. A common mindset. This doesn’t mean uniformity, like Henry Ford stamping believers out on an assembly line. But it does mean unity, in the midst of the diversity of the Body of Christ and the various parts working together for the common good (1 Corinthians 12). Because as we work together, we are being built into a unified, spiritual household, with Christ as our cornerstone (1 Peter 2). Do you want to know how our spiritual enemy is sometimes at work in a local church? It is to bring disunity, and division among the family of God (1 Corinthians 1:10-13). But thanks be to the Father, He has given us the Spirit who is at work bringing about unity and a like-minded attitude among His people.
Sympathetic. This is feeling what others feel. Being sensitive to the hurts and needs of others. When one part of the Body mourns, we all mourn, and when one part rejoices, we all rejoice (Romans 12:15). Being sympathetic, is knowing the right words to say, the right questions to ask, the right time to simply be present, and asking the Holy Spirit, who is the Wonderful Counselor, for guidance, help, and wisdom. Sympathetic people are not giving false empathy of ‘oh I know how you feel’ or trying to one up a brother or sister’s story with their own hurt. They are also not trying to resolve or ‘fix’ the hurt of another with an oversimplified theological answer. Instead they are saying with their words and actions, you are not alone, I will be present with you, I will intercede on your behalf, and what you feel is what I feel.
Love one another. It is all through the pages of Scripture. This ‘simple’ command we are given, and yet a command we will live the rest of our lives seeking to grow in. Because none of us will ‘arrive’ or graduate from the school of loving one another. Instead, class is continually in session, and the Father is faithful to finish what He has begun in us. Among believers there is to be a brotherly affection for one another. Peter calls believers strangers or exiles in this world, but among the family of God, there are no strangers. No matter how large the family gets, we’re still family, and we are to seek to love one another for the glory of God and our good and joy.
Compassionate. God’s people are to be kindhearted. In the Greek, this word means, you feel generous in your belly. That down deep and down deep in your gut, you care for that person, and you love them. That you’re not two faced to them. That your soul loves their soul. And so this compassion leads you to come alongside a person in crisis or in sin in the family of God. You care enough to engage in conversation, to step into their life, and to not hold them at a distance. And you’re compassionate enough to do it in a way that is honors God and is full of grace and truth.
Humble. A lowly spirit if you will. A spirit that is dependent upon God, that is fully aware of our own need for God’s grace daily in our lives. A spirit that flees from self-righteousness, or a pride that puffs up. A spirit that seeks to serve another person and to elevate their needs before your own.
So where is your greatest need for growth?
As God’s people, I pray, that these words may describe our hearts, our relationships, and as a result, our church.