Read 1 Peter 4:1-7. Why are our lifestyle choices important, and how do they affect our readiness for Christ’s return?
Peter comments that believers have already spent enough of their lives doing what others around them pressured them to do (1 Pet. 4:3). But now things have changed, and believers may be thought “strange” for not joining the crowd, possibly resulting in malicious gossip being spread about them (1 Pet. 4:4, NKJV). Thus, Satan will even use former friends to try to discourage us in our walk with God.
Peter encourages believers not to be intimidated by these assaults. The “Gentiles” will need to give an account of themselves to God, who alone is judge, so there is no need to worry about what they think (1 Pet. 4:5).
His point is crucial. How many people do you know who have buckled under the pressure of other people’s expectations, rather than standing up for what they believe? This is especially tough on young people, who struggle with what is known as “peer pressure.”
Instead of us being concerned about being accepted by others, and conforming to their opinions and their demands and their expectations of us, Peter admonishes believers to be kind and loving to those we come in contact with (1 Pet. 4:8-9, NKJV). This is not just an added extra, some additional duty we must fit into our Christian to-do list. Rather, it is the most important thing we do and the most important way of interacting with people around us. Maybe that is why Peter suggests that we need to get serious in our prayers (1 Pet. 4:7), because God knows that sometimes we can be more serious about pleasing the “Gentiles” than relating lovingly and kindly to those close to us. We need to pray not only for them, but also that we would allow God to make us more sensitive to their concerns. As “a royal generation and a holy priesthood,” we are called to influence them for the good, as opposed to allowing them to influence us for the bad. The tragic history of Israel was just that: the pagans, instead of being influenced for good by Israel, influenced Israel for evil.
What kind of peer pressures do you face? How can you resist? In what ways are the words “overcome evil with good” (Rom. 12:21) so appropriate in such situations?