Sermon Text: 1 Peter 3:8–12
Preacher: Pastor Brian Sauvé

The Potency of Humble Glories

I want you to understand the glory and power of what it is that we’re doing right now.

As we gather this morning to sing in worship to God, to pray to God and ask for his Kingdom to come and his will to be done on earth as it is in heaven; as we gather in the name of Jesus and open his Word and feast on it together; as we each come and proclaim the Lord’s death for us at his table—as we do these things, we are assaulting the very gates of Hell.

Jesus said that he would build his church and that the gates of Hell would not prevail against it. That’s a vision of the church as an offensive force, invading, and overthrowing Satan’s dominions and colonizing earth with the better Kingdom of Heaven.

One pastor explained it like this, to paraphrase: As we gather in the name of the Lord and heed the call to worship, we pick up the battering ram at the gates of Hell and give it a few more blows; we splinter a few more timbers of those gates.

Our corporate worship, our corporate prayer, our life together in obedience to and shaped by the rhythms of the Scriptures—these things that seem humble and insignificant are the very means that the Lord Jesus is using to advance his great Kingdom.

This morning in 1 Peter 3:8–12, our brother Peter unfolds God’s vision for what the Lord is making us together—things that seem small and maybe even trivial to you. But it is these humble things that God is making mighty by his grace. Look there with me.

“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. For,

“Whoever desires to love life
and see good days,
let him keep his tongue from evil
and his lips from speaking deceit;
let him turn away from evil and do good;
let him seek peace and pursue it.
For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous,
and his ears are open to their prayer.
But the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.”

-1 Peter 3:8–12

Life Together

In what we just read, Peter identifies 6 attitudes and marks that he would call us to embody in our life together as a local church—attitudes that are key in the potency of the church in fulfilling her mission and assaulting the gates of Hell.

What we’ll see as we examine each of these attitudes is that they aren’t a random collection of traits that the Apostle skimmed off the top of his mind. No, they intrinsically interconnected; they are like spokes radiating out from a single, central hub, from a single, central axle. What is that central axle? It is a tenacious love for the gospel of grace. 

So what we’ll do in our time together this morning is take up each of these 6 attitudes, aim to understand what they might look like embodied in our midst, and then ask how it is that the gospel of grace produces each.

He’s called husbands and wives and household slaves and citizens to specific obedience to their callings, and now he turns to us all, this great gathering of God’s people, and says, “Finally, all of you, have unity of mind…” Number one,

1. The local church is to strive for unity of mind.

The local church is to be an immovably likeminded people. What does that mean?

Unity of mind is ultimately an issue of authority. Unity of mind means that we each submit our individual thoughts and intuitions and emotions and instincts to one, central arbiter of what is and is not true. It means that the local church ought to have a single, central authority by which to measure claims of truth.

You can’t have unity of mind, likemindedness without that standard. If each of us brought into the gathering of the local church our own, homemade, custom system for assessing what is and is not true, how could we possibly be unified in our thoughts, our minds? 

What our brother Peter is calling us to here is to each come and submit our minds to an abiding, unchanging, authoritative standard for determining what is and is not true. What is that? Listen to what Paul tells a young pastor in 2 Timothy 3:14–17 to do in order to lead the local church into life,

“…continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work. 

-2 Timothy 3:14–17

Unity of mind comes from each submitting our minds to one central standard for life and doctrine—the breathed-out Scriptures, the Word of God. 

So here’s what each of us needs to consider together this morning: What is your standard? When you assess a political claim, a philosophical claim, a theological claim, any kind of claim to truth, what is the measuring stick you use to say, “That’s right,” or “No way.”

Is it your feelings? “I feel like this is true.” Is it your education? “My professor said _______.” Is it your upbringing? “My family has always done it like this.” None of those standards will in the end hold. What Peter would have us do is to each come in humble submission to God’s Word in order that we could all point our hearts and minds—and therefore our hands and homes—in the same direction.

The hub of the gospel of grace throws out unity of mind like a spoke as it humbles us all to the dust and resurrects us new. As we come to the Lord Jesus, we come in confession: “Jesus, I am not wise. I am not all-knowing. I am not the standard for the good or the true. Save me from my broken, twisted intuitions and sin-scarred instincts.” 

This is why Paul can instruct us to “have the same mind” in Philippians 2, and then immediately assure us that this mind is already ours in Christ Jesus—the gospel gives us this mind when it gives us new hearts and unites us to Jesus.

The gospel brings all of our proud, vain, haughty minds before the Truth incarnate, before the Word of God made flesh, the Logos, Jesus Christ—and it unites each of us in worship and adoption and submission in our Lord. The gospel of grace produces this unity of mind by reuniting us to the very standard of what is and is not true.

2. The local church is to be marked by sympathy.

For me, that word, “sympathy,” tends to call to mind a kind of syrupy, Hallmark-card fakery. So much of what passes for sympathy is just pretending. Peter is not talking about that kind of pretend, put on sympathy.

In Romans 12:15, Paul gives us a powerful description of what sympathy might look like when embodied in a local church when he calls us to “Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep.” Sympathy is an eagerness to obey those words towards each other.

It means we are so powerfully for each other, so longing for the good of our brothers and sisters that when they succeed, our knee-jerk reaction is to rejoice. And when they are in pain, when they experience loss, when they are hurting, our knee-jerk reaction is to feel that same loss.

This is the visible expression of Paul’s metaphor for the church, that we are one body with many members. When the hand hurts, there is an interconnectedness through this great web of nerve endings that results in the whole body feeling that pain.

Pride is poison to this, because the proud man fundamentally places himself, not in cooperation with his brothers and sisters, but in competition with them. And so the antichrist, proud inversion of sympathy is to rejoice at your brother’s failure and weep at your sister’s joys.

Have you ever felt that sinful instinct? Maybe a brother or sister you’ve had a quarrel with in the church? Maybe your spouse when you haven’t been getting along? And they fail or make a misstep and you feel this leap of joy? I have wrestled with this sinful instinct so painfully often. 

As with each of these spokes, again, sympathy radiates out from the hub of the gospel of grace. The gospel produces sympathy by tearing down the dividing walls of hostility, as Paul puts it in Galatians, the walls of tribal hostility and competition, and the gospel makes one, new people from all of those little sub-groups and sub-cultures. Jesus forgives us for our divisive jockeying and self-promotion and makes us all one people.

This is why it is so massively essential that we don’t return to the vomit of hostile divisiveness. We embody the oneness we have in Christ when we feel each other’s joys and pains and possess and triumphs as if they are somehow our own—because the are. Because we are one with each other: One faith, one Lord, one baptism, one future hope, world without end and amen.

3. The local church is to overflow with brotherly love; she is a family.

This is the third time that Peter has called us to this kind of familial love. In verse 22 of chapter one, he told us that the purpose of our obedience to the truth is sincere, brotherly love. In verse 17 of chapter 2, he urged us to “Love the brotherhood.”

The point is that the church is a different kind of thing from a mere organization. It is fundamentally more intimate, deeper, than a political party or affinity group, or club, or team. It is a family.

The gospel takes people from every family and makes them one family. God himself condescends to take on human form in Christ, sharing in our flesh and blood as Hebrews 2:14 puts it, so that he could make us sons of God and even call us brothers. Again, do you see how all of these attitudes are connected through the gospel?

Look around this room. These people are your family. Do they rhythms and patterns of your life reflect that? Would an outsider observer listen to how you talk and see how you spend your time and use your money and home and conclude that we are family? 

Think about how brotherly love would impact the way we relate within this local church. No longer would we be able to look at the local church as a mere religious organization intended to meet my spiritual needs by dispensing spiritual goods and services. 

No, it is my family. And so when things in it aren’t to my liking, I don’t complain and leave. I stay and serve and love and pour out for her sake. How silly is it to hop from church to church over quarrels and music preferences? Do you do that with your family? “I’m sorry, honey, I’m going to be investigating other families. I’m just really not that into taco Tuesday and I hear the Smith’s do brats on the grill instead.”

We are family! When conflict happens between us, we lay our lives down to serve each other instead of dividing up and wounding each other. Related to this, number four…

4. The local church ought to be tenderhearted.

Some translations use the word “compassionate” here. Peter calls us to tenderhearted compassion towards one another. 

Do you hear how emotionally intense these words and attitudes are? These aren’t mere actions or beliefs; this isn’t Peter calling you to just understand certain doctrinal truths and call that Christianity. Obviously, what we believe is essential and important, but hear that God is commanding us to feel certain ways, here.

Only a gospel that actually gives out new hearts can command you to feel a certain way towards other people—and yet that is precisely what the gospel does and so what the gospel calls for. When God resurrects us from spiritual death and puts new hearts in our chests, they are hearts that feel differently, that love differently.

The gospel stands firmly opposed to Stoicism and Kantian ethics and any other ideology that would reduce us to actions and logic. No, we are embodied souls, with hearts and emotions—and these are profoundly good things.

God intends to make a people who don’t just serve one another, but who want to serve one another. The gospel is making us a people who don’t just lay our lives down for the sake of our brothers and sisters—but who delight to lay our lives down. It was for the joy set before him that Christ endured the cross. The gospel makes a people who feel that same joy as we do the same in miniature.

5. The local church ought to be known for deep humility of mind.

This is an extension of that unity of mind, that likemindedness that we already talked about. We said that we could only have that unity of mind if each of us submits our mind to be corrected by a mutual standard—the Word of God.

This requires, of course, humility. If you think your own thoughts are glorious and infallible, then you become the vain, arrogant, argumentative know-it-all. You can’t have a conversation without correcting everyone and refusing all correcting. Like the fool in Proverbs 18:2, you “…do not delight in understanding, but only in expressing [your] opinion.”

But the gospel produces humble minds, minds given in submission to the authority of God’s Word, by uniting us to Christ, the very Word of God made flesh.

Now, it’s important to understand that humility of mind isn’t the same thing as uncertainty. You can be certain of the truth and still have humility of mind. In fact, it’s often those people who claim to have the least certainty about anything who are also most proud.

See, there’s something that happens frequently in the church that would be funny if it weren’t so tragic. People often look at the Christian who loves the Word, studies it deeply, who comes to clear, deep conviction of its truthfulness and then calls the church to that standard and consider that person to be very proud and arrogant.

And then at the same time we can tend to take the person who is uncertain of everything, who has no clear convictions, and therefore never stands on any point of doctrine or truth—and we hold them up as the model of humility.

So the Christian who has devoted herself to rightly dividing the Word of truth and obeying it in every corner of life is considered the proud, know-it-all theologian, while the one who never reads his Bible, just follows his own instincts and intuitions about things is considered super open and authentic. 

Do you see how foolish that is? It’s not divisive to call the church to obey the Scriptures! 

If you claim Christ and yet continue in unwillingness to conform you mind, your beliefs, your life, and your doctrine to it—you don’t get to call theologically rigorous Christians “divisive!” You are the one who has cordoned yourself off from the central, truth-setting authority of the Scriptures. You are the one bringing division into God’s people.

Now, there is such thing as a person who is proud, vain, and theologically arrogant. But the problem with that person isn’t that they care too much for truth, for God’s Word—no, it’s that they are unwilling to submit to it! The Scriptures are emphatic that God opposes the proud, the vain, and the arrogant! The proud theologian doesn’t need to repent of his theological interest, but of his disobedience to the truth!

The gospel produce humility of mind as it teaches us to doubt our own instincts, intuitions, and reasoning and each submit ourselves to the central, doctrine-setting authority of the Scriptures.

6. The local church ought to be known for blessing those who curse her.

Look again at verses 9–12.

“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. For,

“Whoever desires to love life
and see good days,
let him keep his tongue from evil
and his lips from speaking deceit;
let him turn away from evil and do good;
let him seek peace and pursue it.
For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous,
and his ears are open to their prayer.
But the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.”

-1 Peter 3:9–12

The church puts the gospel into living parable when we return cursing for blessing and evil for good. We imitate our Lord, who returned the curse of our sin for the blessing of his righteousness. We embody the living, glorious way of the gospel as we love those who hate us—humbly seeing our own sin in theirs.

It’s like this: When people ram into us with reviling and cursing, we are to be a people so filled with God’s enemy-blessing love, so overflowing with God’s merciful grace, that we spill over with blessing when we are cursed. 

This only works if the gospel is true and God really has filled us up with his grace. You can only spill out something that is actually and already there. 


Before we leave, I want so simply ask the question of “How?” How can I see these fruits and characteristics and attitudes grow and flourish in my life? Because again, these are potent, powerful weapons in the service of the Kingdom of God! 

This humble, simple gospel-fruit embodied in the local church is a powerful force in the expansion of the Kingdom of God. There are three helps that I think would serve us in embodying these things in our life together:

1. See your own sinful separateness from God in every sin of your brother.

Take 10 looks in the mirror of your own sin and what has been forgiven you for every 1 look at the sin of your brother that needs forgiving. His sin is real; absolutely! But the tendency of the flesh is to minimize and justify our own sin, while magnifying and inflaming our brother’s sin. 

And yet, Jesus teaches us to pray, “Forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors.” The Preacher of Ecclesiastes in chapter 7:21–22 of that book has wise instruction for us, here. He says,

“Do not take to heart all the things that people say, lest you hear your servant cursing you. Your heart knows that many times you yourself have cursed others.”

What does that mean? It means that the people of God can cover offenses like no other people. Why? Because when we are annoyed by our brothers and sisters, we remember that we ourselves are annoying. When we are let down by a friend in the church, sinned against, gossiped about—we look at the cross and say, “Their sin is bad. It hurts. But it isn’t different than mine, in the end.”

2. See the hand of God at work in your brother.

Not only are we helped in our love for each other by humbly considering our own sin when we see theirs—we are also served by laboring to see the work of God in the life of our brother and sister. In Ephesians 2:10, the Apostle Paul, after heralding the free grace that saves us says that,

“…we are [God’s] workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.”

In your life, in my life, in the life of every single believer in Christ, God is producing glories if you will only see them. God is putting opportunities for patience and joy and love in front of each of us, and he who began the good work is also seeing it through, he is working in us to will and to work for his good pleasure. 

And so we ought to become masters of seeing the hand of God in one another’s lives. We ought to be earnestly looking for ways to notice and encourage each other by seeing God’s hand at work. Do I have eyes to see the glory of God in his work in my brother?

3. Do it for the sake of blessing.

Our brother Peter has unfolded how the gospel of grace, loving this gospel, produces each of these attitudes in the people of God. They are like spokes, we’ve said, radiating out from the central axle of grace. But Peter doesn’t just show us the hub of the wheel, but where it’s going.

“Whoever desires to love life and see good days!” Peter quotes from Psalm 34. Peter, grabbing onto the hymnal of Israel, is essentially saying, “Do you want joy? Do you want God to bless you? Do you want to flourish? Then humble yourself in God’s hand, put on tender heartedness, cover offenses, and love your brothers and sisters. We have an endless inheritance of blessing out of which to bless.”

What end is God aiming for in producing these attitudes in his people? Blessing. God is trying to bless us, here. He is aiming for us to “…love life and see good days.” He is aiming for the people of God to live in the constant awareness of the eyes of the Lord resting on us for our good. That’s where all of this is aiming.