A Biblical Self-Check List

Posted on April 15, 2022


By David Ettinger

Proper Responses
Christianity is not attained by works. Grace doesn’t work like that. The apostle Paul wrote: “but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8, emphasis added).

However, following salvation, Christianity is a lifestyle of good works and loving behavior (Matthew 5:16). These works and behaviors stem from a proper response to God’s grace poured out on us. Because He saved us, we respond in love for Him and others.

The Bible is filled with guidelines on how Christians should conduct themselves. These guidelines provide a standard by which we can evaluate our walk with God. They serve as a checklist of sorts, allowing us to gauge just how well we are doing in living godly lives.

One of the great self-check passages of the Bible is 1 Peter 3:8-9:

Finally, all of you, have unity of mind, sympathy, brotherly love, a tender heart, and a humble mind. Do not repay evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary, bless, for to this you were called, that you may obtain a blessing.

The Backdrop
What makes this passage stand out is its background. The book of 1 Peter was written against a backdrop of persecution and suffering as Roman Emperor Nero was unleashing his deadly assault upon Christianity. Why is this important?

Consider that commands regarding behavior are never given unless those being addressed are practicing the opposite of those commands. In other words, when Peter told believers to display sympathy and brotherly love toward one another, it is because they were not doing so.

For instance, if a young, unmarried couple were going on a date, I would not tell them, “Whatever you do, don’t throw a rock through a windshield?” Such a thought would never enter their minds.  However, I would tell that couple, “Stay in public and don’t be alone together.” Being alone together would enter their minds, and with it the danger of a moral fall.

Likewise, Peter’s admonition to the Church in the face of severe persecution is somewhat surprising, but proves just how sinful the flesh is. This is why Peter had to remind believers to be tender-hearted and humble.

This is why Peter had to command believers to “not repay evil for evil or reviling for reviling.” This is exactly what they were doing. By contrast, Peter told believers to “bless” in the face of evil and reviling.

You would think Christians shouldn’t have to be told these things.

Self-Check List
Yet, Paul had to tell these things to the Christians of his day – those who should have been clinging together in love in the midst of severe persecution.

How much more does Peter need to remind believers today – especially Western believers who don’t know true persecution – of these things? In so doing, Peter has given us a powerful self-check list with which we can measure our response to Christ’s sacrifice for us.

I ask you (and myself) then, how are you doing at:

  • Being sympathetic toward others (saved and unsaved)?
  • Displaying brotherly love?
  • Being tenderhearted?
  • Displaying a humble mind?
  • Not repaying evil for evil?
  • Not returning reviling for reviling?
  • Blessing those who are evil to and revile you?

I don’t grade high!

This post is not intended to disparage or demean, but serve as a reminder of what God expects of us. One of the Bible’s purposes is to guide us through life by showing us how we should behave.

Our salvation already obtained, God expects us to respond properly. 1 Peter 3:8-9 is one of the ways in which we should respond, and if we find ourselves falling short, we need to put forth more effort.

The Bible is filled with self-check lists – lists that if strived to work toward achieving will mold us ever closer to the image of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ!