Monday, 18 November 2019
Let him turn away from evil and do good;
Let him seek peace and pursue it. 1 Peter 3:11
Peter continues to cite the 34th Psalm. His words of this verse are from verse 14 –
“Depart from evil and do good;
Seek peace and pursue it.”
The words, as of the previous verse, are because of what he said in verse 9 concerning the duty of believers who are called to such conduct. The calling was made in the psalm, and Peter is citing the psalm to substantiate that it is so.
The first clause says, “Let him turn away from evil.” The Greek word gives the sense of seeing evil ahead and literally changing course away from it. It is a word used only elsewhere by Paul in Romans 3:12 and Romans 16:17. The exhortation and admonition is to bend away from that which is evil “and do good.”
One can turn away from evil and still find more evil to pursue. But the word of Scripture is to not only turn away from that which is evil, but to also then pursue a path which is right and proper. This is then confirmed by the next clause which says that this same soul should then “seek peace.”
To seek means to investigate. Its intent is to get to the bottom of a matter. Anything which could hinder the process is to be removed from the path. When the peace is sought and seen, Peter then says to “pursue it.”
The word signifies pursuing with all haste, literally running after it. It is used when speaking of pursuing a prize. The mental imagery is intended to show the lengths one should go to to avoid evil –
“There is evil up ahead! Turn away! Turn away! Keep turning from it until something which is good and noble is seen. When you see it, seek its path and then chase after it!”
This is the exhortation that Peter lays forth for those who are called to right conduct before the Lord.
Life application: Sometimes it is so much easier to follow the crowd in our voting, our choice of church to attend, our exceeding the speed limit in order to get where we need to go, or in a host of other routine matters. But our votes reflect choices that lead us to either godly or ungodly leaders. Our church of choice reflects the very soundness of the gospel in our lives. Our exceeding the speed limit – regardless of being on time or late – reflects our desire to obey the laws of the land in which we live (and which the Bible expects us to obey).
Anytime we choose the easy path, even if good eventually results, it reflects on us – not on the result.
Further, what does it mean to seek peace and pursue it? A perfect example of misunderstanding “pursuing peace” is modern Israel. The world is seeking a “peace plan” which involves dividing the land and taking a portion (and eventually all) of it from the Jewish people. But God has already determined what will bring peace to the region. He has also made the sovereign choice to restore the land to Israel. According to Joel 3:1, the very thing that the world thinks will bring peace will actually bring its judgment. Seeking peace must be from God’s perspective or it will ultimately result in more unrest. It is the gospel of Jesus Christ which brings about a restored fellowship with God that will result in peace.
Heavenly Father, help us to have clear thinking when we act, and never to follow evil in hopes of a good result. And help us to pursue true peace, emulating Jesus and proclaiming His gospel to the nations. In so doing, may we bring You all the glory that You are due. May we always think our actions through before we err in our ways. Amen.