1 Therefore, rid yourselves of all malice and all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander of every kind. 2 Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation, 3 now that you have tasted that the Lord is good.
When I read this, I wrote in my bible that I never wanted to stop craving "pure spiritual milk." But then I look at the day to day and I see how I ignore times that I feel called to stop everything and pick up my bible. Or, I don't head instruction or I start looking horizontally instead of toward heaven. All of those things stunt my spiritual growth. It also stops me from being renewed by my time with the Lord.
4 As you come to him, the living Stone--rejected by men but chosen by God and
precious to him-- 5 you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. 6 For in Scripture it says: "See, I lay a stone in Zion, a chosen and precious cornerstone, and the one who trusts in him will never be put to shame." 7 Now to you who believe, this stone is precious.
I have been rejected by men but called "precious" by God. Pretty amazing. God is using everything in my life to build me up. That includes the good, the bad and the ugly! Sometimes that in itself sucks. I want God to "grow" me, but I would love to skip all the hard stuff! God has a different plan. He wants us to rely on him no matter what and in doing so we will be shaped by the Masters hand.
But to those who do not believe, "The stone the builders rejected has become the
capstone," 8 and, "A stone that causes men to stumble and a rock that makes them fall." 8 They stumble because they disobey the message--which is also what they
were destined for.
I stumbled for many years before I heard and truly believed the message. The day came when I had to make a choice to follow my Saviour or separate myself from Him. Part of coming to Christ was learning to cut out the "stones" that made me stumble. Since many of those stones were my only friends, it was hard to let them go. I even had to go through a period of time not having any friends. That was extremely tough. But then as I prayed for God to bring me a good friend - I was blessed with my best friend Marci and then later on Teresa and now Alicia.
One thing that all Christians need to be aware of is that we can be stumbling blocks for others. We must work to be Godly in order to avoid giving others reasons to turn away from God.
9 But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. 10 Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy
Isn't that powerful? God chose Me and you and all of His children. He called us out of the darkness of our sins and into the light of his love. At one point I was nothing but God called me to be his child. He gave me a family and hope. And most importantly, he forgave me.
11 Dear friends, I urge you, as aliens and strangers in the world, to abstain from sinful desires, which war against your soul. 12 Live such good lives among
the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good
deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us.
When I first came to Christ, abstaining from my sinful desires was one of the hardest things that was asked of me. I failed many times. But as I grew in my faith and love of Christ, those acting on those desires became almost unbearable. It got to the point that I had to either walk away from them or from God. But God is faithful. He had already given me the friends that I needed who stood beside me as I walked away from those sinful things.
Now, I still have sin issues. I don't know of a Christian who doesn't. But my relationship with Lord helps me to see those and little by little I am able knock them out. So don't get discouraged if you screw up. Peter put verse 11 in the note because even back then, Christians were having issues leaving their past life behind. We are human and God knows our weaknesses. He will forgive you just as he has forgiven me.
13 Submit yourselves for the Lord's sake to every authority instituted among men: whether to the king, as the supreme authority, 14 or to governors, who are sent by him to punish those who do wrong and to commend those who do right. 15 For it is God's will that by doing good you should silence the ignorant talk of foolish men. 16 Live as free men, but do not use your freedom as a cover-up for evil; live as servants of God. 17 Show proper respect to everyone: Love the brotherhood of believers, fear God, honor the king.
18 Slaves, submit yourselves to your masters with all respect, not only to those
who are good and considerate, but also to those who are harsh. 19 For it is commendable if a man bears up under the pain of unjust suffering because he is conscious of God. 20 But how is it to your credit if you receive a beating for doing wrong and endure it? But if you suffer for doing good and you endure it, this is commendable before God. 21 To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps.
22 "He committed no sin, and no deceit was found in his mouth."
This last section on submission is the hardest part for me. We are to submit ourselves the the authority of men while living as children of God. That doesn't mean that we shouldn't get out to vote to change things or not bring transgressions to the forefront. But we are to do those things in a manner that reflects the God that we serve.
23 When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly. 24 He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed. 25 For you were like sheep going astray, but now you have returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.
In addition to that, we are to suffer as Christ did - without complaint. As Christ was beaten and forced to carry the cross, many were looking on and shouting insults at him. Did he bring down the wrath of God? No. He bore all those insults so that we could choose salvation. He was nailed to a cross so that our sins could be washed away. As his children, we must learn to turn the other cheek and keep on loving those that are hard to love. This can take many forms depending on the situation. But if it's done in a Godly, loving way, our Lord will be glorified.