In a recent Bible study I could not get past the first verse. When a scripture does not let you turn the page, you have found a wonderful thing. 1 Peter 2: 1 got me. “Therefore, rid yourselves of all malice and all deceit, hypocrisy, envy and slander of every kind.”
Prior to this verse the reader is told that humans are like grass and their glory fades like flowers. But the word of the Lord stands forever. Then follows the Stop Sign verse, “Therefore…” Since God’s Word stands forever, we have work to do in order to further our salvation.
Today in our neighborhood, the trash is picked up. I need to throw this garbage out of my life:
Malice. I rarely want to intentionally hurt someone but I do notice that on occasion if I am insulted, I wish I could invent a clever zinger in reply. Moments like these might be turned around if I prayed instead. And what about when our life is sometimes affected by darkness more than it can handle? I am taking a writing class at a local college. We are assigned the task of reading and critiquing the work of other students. Most write with a secular slant. Being exposed to darkness depresses my spirit. But I can offset this by reading my Bible often. A brother inspired me that being around unbelievers give us the chance to pray for them and influence them. Marvelous viewpoint, and is it not so?
Deceit. Do I paint the truth to make myself look better than I am, or leave things out of the picture? Do I fudge? My husband asked me if I had used our new clothesline recently and I quickly said, “Oh yes!,” thinking I had when in fact I realized, NO YOU HAVE NOT, because I forgot I had it. So I had to back up. In my case, I think I need to be slower to respond and think about my words.
Hypocrisy. “How are you today, Debby?” an acquaintance might ask, and I say, “Oh, fine.” I probably cannot tell a stranger my inner feelings, or even a friend if I am short on time. But a better response might me, “Pretty okay.” Or, “How about I take a pass on that?” Another way I find myself at fault is that as a middle child, I play the peacemaker role. I listen to one person’s story and try to sympathize and side with them. Then I listen to the other side and side with them. A good listener does not have to invest an opinion. One more consideration about hypocrisy: do I expect things of others that is not a standard for myself?
Envy. Do I wish for myself what others have been granted and resent they have it? In the writing world, others might be receiving accolades or prizes or publishing opportunities. Do I rejoice for them or begrudge it? Is there anything you envy? A way to break the hold of envy is to ask God to bless that person. Every time it comes up.
Slander. I wonder when or if I say something that is not very kind what my motivation for that is. If I apply this to myself, I shudder to think what God knows about me He could disclose if He wanted to. Yet, usually God in His kindness does not tell all. May we be as merciful to others as God is to us.
Peter has another stellar admonition in verse 2: “…crave spiritual milk (the Bible) [because] by it, we grow up in our salvation.”
Have you been saved by Jesus, dear reader? I was at age eight but only came to fully understand His friendship with me at age sixteen. Did I have a love of His words at age eight? Not much. I knew John 3:16 and Psalm 23 and the Ten Commandments. At age sixteen, I fell in love with the Word. Big difference!
I cannot rid myself of these five maladies on a permanent basis. They are temptations. But if I crave His Word, I will take them to the trash pile and my salvation will flourish. Hallelujah!