Living and Loving the Good Life
1 Peter 3:8-12
The Declaration of Independence contains the well-known phrase ‘Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness,’ which its author Thomas Jefferson listed as among the ‘unalienable rights’ God gave to people. For most today, pursuit of that Jeffersonian ideal means primarily chasing after objects of self-gratification such as more money, faster cars, luxurious vacations, finer entertainment and greater health and fitness. Sometimes this pursuit includes the more sordid aspects of an outlaw life, such as the songs they sing. The sad reality, however, is that such things are merely a temporary rush that falls short of the genuine good life that satisfies the heart. John MacArthur notes one of the most notorious personifications of the hedonistic life was that of the novelist Ernest Hemingway. MacArthur writes:
“The author of noted literary works such as The Sun Also Rises, A Farewell to Arms, and The Old Man and the Sea, Hemingway also became notorious for his avant-garde lifestyle. He had little regard for the teachings of the Bible or traditional systems of morality. He pursued the ‘good life’ with a vengeance. His literary talent brought him fame, prestige, and money, which allowed him to seek pleasure all over the world through hunting and fishing expeditions, celebrity parties and gatherings, heavy drinking, fighting in and reporting on several wars and revolutions, and sleeping with women wherever he went. However no one of that ultimately gave Hemingway any lasting or genuine satisfaction. His life ended tragically one day in 1961 when he inflicted himself with a fatal shotgun blast to the head.”
MacArthur is quick to note that ‘even the pages of Scripture contain examples of men who pursued the good life in all the wrong places.’ Solomon had incredible wealth in the form of land, palaces, chariots and horses, gold and silver, and many beautiful women. Because he was king over Israel, he also had great power and influence. He seemed to possess everything that constituted the good life. In fact, 2 Chronicles 9:3-4 says that when the Queen of Sheba visited Solomon and observed his immense wealth, power, and imposing presence she was breathless.
But toward the end of his life, Solomon was not content and failed to experience life to the fullest. In Ecclesiastes 2:17 he wrote, ‘So I hated life, for the work which had been done under the sun was grievous to me; because everything is futility and striving after the wind.’ Solomon came to realize that the good life is not found in great accomplishments or much education (Eccl. 1:12-14, 16). Neither did he find it in pleasure (2:3) or material possessions (2:4-11). He finally rendered the sobering conclusion that life was really more oppressive than good:
“Then I looked again at all the acts of oppression which were being done under the sun. And behold I saw the tears of the oppressed and that they had no one to comfort them; and on the side of their oppressors was power, but they had no one to comfort them. So I congratulated the dead who are already dead more than the living who are still living. But better off than both of them is the one who has never existed, who has never seen the evil activity that is done under the sun” (Eccl. 4:1-3).
After reminding us of much of Solomon’s wasted life, MacArthur writes, ‘Believers should love the life God has granted them and enjoy its goodness day by day, but many do not.’ Peter, indeed, recognized that believers are not exempt from serious and varied difficulties that steal joy (1:6). In fact, the believers’ faith identifies them as aliens in an aggressively hostile society (2:11), making persecution and suffering an integral part of living in an ungodly environment (2:20-21; 3:14-15). Still, in spite of the suffering, Peter in this passage addresses the believer as ‘the one who desires life, to love and see good days’ (v10) and instructs him/her on how to realize that desire.
In our passage this week, 1 Peter 3:8-12, Peter gives all believers a general exhortation, which will open us to the life of blessing God desires for us to enjoy. I urge you to join us this week as we talk about ‘living and loving the good life.’
Living the life,