Lesson 16—Christian Responsibility
Scripture: 1 Peter 2:17
Lesson Goal: To understand our Christian responsibility in all areas of life.
In today’s lesson, we learn how every area of the believer’s life falls under Christian responsibility. The believer’s desire to please and honor God should be reflected in every area of life and in all relationships with others. To help believers understand the Christian responsibility, in verse seventeen Peter writes four very brief, but pointed, commands in rapid succession.
“Honor all men”—we are instructed to honor all men. This honor is due to the fact that all men are created in the image of God. Honor carries the idea of respect. As Christians we wonder how we can honor all men. We must remember that no matter how tarnished a life may seem to us, no one is beyond the reach of God’s redemption and transforming grace. As the great hymn writer Fanny Crosby put it:
“Down in the human heart, crushed by the tempter,
Feelings lie buried that grace can restore.
Touched by a loving heart, wakened by kindness,
Chords that were broken will vibrate once more.
The blessed testimony of the gospel is that it has reached across all boundaries with God’s amazing grace. Christians are not to discriminate against any class of people because of race, nationality or economic status (read Romans 2:11 and Ephesians 6:8-9).
“Honor all men” means that the believer is to show respect for everyone as individuals made in the image of God. It does not mean that the believer is to possess an open-mindedness to toleration of all manner of sinful codes and conduct.
➢ How can believers honor all men without compromising the biblical truth as it relates to many in today’s society?
➢ Explain the difference in “honoring all men” and “approving of the behavior of all men.”
Peter gives a second instruction: “love the brotherhood.” One great demonstration to the world of a believer’s genuineness of faith is to love one another (Read John 13:34-35, 15:12 and 1 John 3:23).
Believers share a special bond of love with other believers. This means they love one another regardless of color, nationality, or even denomination. True believers are brothers and sisters in the family of God, but it is not enough just to respect and honor a brother and sister. Something far greater is expected—a true genuine love for all.
Love, in a very practical way, is the exact opposite of criticizing, backbiting, gossiping, murmuring and divisiveness.
➢ What does it say about our love for one another if we are constantly speaking negatively of other believers?
➢ Proverbs 19b: “And one who sows discord among brethren is not pleasing to God.”
How does Proverbs 19b apply to “love the brotherhood” in 1 Peter 2:17b?
“Fear God”—Peter’s third instruction in verse 17 (see also Proverbs 9:10). This is not a terrorizing dreadful fear; this is a healthy reverential-awe kind of fear. “God has a sanctifying effect on our behavior, but the fear of Nero hung like a pall over Peter’s world. The fear of God will drive out the fear of man” (Phillips). McGee says, “Certainly, we as believers are to reveal by our lives that we are God-fearing people.” God must always have our reverence and the ultimate authority in our lives.
➢ How can the fear of God be healthy for a believer?
Peter gives a fourth and final word of instruction: “Honor the king.”
Believers are instructed that they must give honor and respect to the office and position of those in authority, for it is pleasing to God.
Questions for Life Focus
The eleven words of verse 17 present a challenge to all believers, but what kind of challenge must it have been for Peter’s original readers? The answer to this question must be given in light that the evil and infamous Nero was on the throne when this was being written, and the believers were being persecuted by the authorities.
Can you disagree with a politician while respecting the position in which he serves?
How can you “honor all men” and remain true to the authority of God?