By Kristen Terrette, Crosswalk.com
Peter may have demonstrated more spiritual growth than any other New Testament character, going from a greatly flawed human to one redeemed and spiritually mature. My jaw drops at Peter’s actions, then cringes at how badly he eats his words at times.
Do you ever see a bit of yourself in Peter? Can you relate to his ignorance? Lack of self-control? Seemingly thoughtless questions? Quickness to bravery, then flip to cowardice?
Peter speaks to my heart because I think, He’s just like me. Truthfully, the authorship of 1st and 2nd Peter is up for debate. But, since the Bible is without error, it stands to reason that God wants us to believe they were penned by one of His closest companions: Peter, the fisherman. Then later, Peter, the first great evangelist.
Through him, our eyes are opened to more of God’s Word, and we’re urged to take another step in our relationship with Jesus. Here are four powerful life lessons from 1 Peter and 2 Peter:
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1. God will use us after our failures.
Peter’s greatest mistakes are recorded and memorialized for all time in the Gospels.
I wonder if he ever thought about this. Did he wince when word got out that he cut off a soldier’s ear in a violent act of devotion to Jesus? Did he hear a rooster crow and hang his head over denying he knew Jesus that fateful night?
Peter was certainly imperfect, but his brash personality also caused him to get out of the boat and walk on water (Matthew 14:27-33). And it had him proclaiming Jesus was the Christ (Matthew 16:16). Jesus often corrected Peter, sometimes with a heavy hand, but did so without condemnation or shame, to spur growth in him which we see in the book of Acts and his letters.
Peter’s past failures only make his story more beautifully and divinely appointed. Only the Holy Spirit could, and maybe would, use a simple fisherman to deliver a message to a huge crowd and baptize three thousand into Christ’s family. Can you imagine the first time you got up on stage to preach the Good News and thousands accepting it? It’s truly astonishing.
And, also, great news for us. Peter’s life story shows that Jesus will correct and convict us to make changes in how we live, but He will also use our past mistakes to bring Him glory. When those around you witness the difference in your life, they will want to be a part of what only Jesus can offer—forgiveness and eternal life. Allow God to use your past to draw others to Him.
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2. God desires spiritual maturity.
Just as a child grows slowly, but steadily, into adulthood, we should be inching toward maturity in our relationship with God. 1 Peter 2:2 uses this metaphor saying, “Like newborn babies, crave spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation…” But how can we achieve this?
God sends a Helper, His Spirit, to aid us.
My son recently accepted Jesus as his Savior. What a great day it was! And over the last couple weeks, I’ve seen miraculous growth in him. A few days ago, while listening to worship music in the car, he asked me the meaning of a phrase in a song. After I explained, he casually said, “I’m learning so much now.” His nine-year-old mind recognized that the Bible, which used to confuse him, is starting to make sense!
We discussed this was because God’s Spirit now lived in his heart, opening his mind to things that he did not understand before.
We see this happen to Peter as well. Once he came alive with the Holy Spirit’s fire (Acts 2:3-4) he didn’t go back to business as usual. With God’s help, he became a knowledgeable, well-spoken, and confident leader. And Peter writes that this is God’s desire for you as well. 2 Peter 1:2 (NIRV) says,“May more and more grace and peace be given to you. May they come to you as you learn more about God and about Jesus our Lord.”
Did you catch that promise? When you put in the work to get to know God and His ways, grace and peace will be yours. Scripture doesn’t say might be given to you. It’s a sure thing.
And when you devote yourself to godly living—possessing faith, goodness, knowledge, self-control, perseverance, mutual affection, and love (2 Peter 1:5-7), 2 Peter 1:10 adds to the promise, “you will never stumble, and you will receive a rich welcome into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.”
What step can you take today to move forward your relationship with God? Could you commit to reading your Bible every day? Pray in the car on the way to work? Join a Bible Study? Decide not to skip a Sunday church service any longer? Make a change today and claim these promises for your life.
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3. Christ-followers will suffer.
Jesus underwent an excruciating death. Peter, who walked so close to Him that their garments would’ve touched, faced many trials, including dying a martyr according to tradition. Why should we expect different?
It’s painful to hear, but the truth can be uncomfortable. Christians will undergo trials, heartaches, dissention, disease, false accusations, oppression, and more. We are not sheltered from the chaos in the world, where the devil thrives.
I have watched my sister battle brain cancer twice. And though she and our family have had many weak moments of anger, irritation, and heartbrokenness, our faith has grown through them. Jesus knows what it feels like to be brokenhearted. He knows pain and affliction. He will meet you in the midst of it.
Have you been through something similar? What can we do in the midst of sorrow?
We must change our way of thinking. According to 1 Peter 4:12-19, we must view our trials as opportunities to demonstrate joy. We get to participate in Christ’s sufferings. And because of this, we get to share in His blessings as well. We’ll have an eternity to abide in His presence. An eternity of no pain or heartache. We must commit to our “faithful Creator and continue to do good” (1 Peter 4:19), while looking to our glorious future.
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4. Christ-followers must lead holy and godly lives.
Peter often mentions Jesus’ second coming, even devoting a whole section to the “Day of the Lord” in 2nd Peter, chapter 3. It isn’t theoretical. It’s a definite. And tucked there, in between describing Christ’s vivid display of power when He returns, Peter asks, “what kind of people ought you to be?” He answers by saying we “ought to live holy and godly lives” (2 Peter 3:11).
Many of you are saying, “Of course, we should!” But, really, are we? Does your life look different from before when you did not know Christ as your Savior? Would your Monday through Saturday friends see you as a hypocrite if they ran into you at a Sunday church service?
Peter’s words should serve as a warning and stir in us an urgency to live like Jesus.
Thankfully, his letters offer many practical ways to display godliness. They read like a book of commands on how to be Christian. God is such an amazing Teacher that He gives us specific directions! And one command helps us follow all the others.
Through Jesus’ own words, then later through both Paul and Peter, we are called to love (John 13:34, 1 Corinthians 13:13, 1 Peter 4:8). Loving others correctly will naturally lend itself to a holy and godly life, because it takes patience, kindness, forgiveness, and self-control. It strives to do the right thing at all times.
If you are wondering if your life should look different, ask God to show you the areas He’d like to see altered. He is the ultimate Guide and will prepare you for “a new heaven and a new earth, where righteousness dwells” (2 Peter 3:13). One where we’ll reside together with our Lord, Jesus Christ.
Kristen Terrette holds a Master's in Theological Studies and served as a Children's Ministry Director for five years. She cherishes her Southern roots and currently lives forty-five minutes outside of Atlanta, GA. She’s following her dream by writing Christian fiction during the day and being a wife and mom come early afternoon when the family arrives home. She serves on the women's leadership team at her church and writes for Wholly Loved Ministries and Crosswalk.com. To see her blog and novels, check out her website.
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