DAILY DEVOTION - May 12
Listen to excerpts from today's daily devotion on this video.
This Daily Devotion is from A Living Hope, by Sarah Viggiano Wright, published by Bible Study Media, and made available to us through Presbyterian Women.
“Having purified your souls by your obedience to the truth for a sincere brotherly love, love one another earnestly from a pure heart, since you have been born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God; for
‘All flesh is like grass and all its glory like the flower of grass. The grass withers, and the flower falls, but the word of the Lord remains forever.’
And this word is the good news that was preached to you."
1 Peter 1:22–25
Before the Geneva Bible of 1560, there were not chapter and verse divisions in the English translations of the Bible. In the same way that you and I wouldn’t divide the letters we write into chapters, the same was true of the epistle (letter) writers. Many of the writers, like the Apostle Paul, were not shy about using long run-on sentences in their communications. This is why we see many thoughts or concepts start in one “chapter” and continue into the next. Such is the case with our transition from 1 Peter chapter 1 to chapter 2.
In this section, we have another cycle of what is true and what to do that starts in 1:22 and continues to 2:3. “Having purified your souls” and “since you have been born again” are the indicatives—what is true. Now what follows are some commands, some imperatives—what to do.
The first command is in verse 22: “[L]ove one another earnestly from a pure heart,” that we delved into yesterday. It could be argued that this imperative is the one all the following commands fall under, in the same way that Jesus summarizes the Law by saying that we should love God and love our neighbor (Matthew 22:37–40). Peter gives an express purpose of our rebirth here: “for a sincere brotherly love.” The word “sincere” or anypokriton in Greek (used in 1:22 and 2:1), is worthy of deeper examination.
This Greek word is a compound noun that joins the negative prefix “a,” meaning “without,” with the word hupokrinomai, which means “to act, to pretend, or to act like a hypocrite.” Thus it is literally translated “unhypocritical.” The verb hupokrinos has its origins in the Greek theater where actors would wear masks to portray their characters. The use of the word “hypocrite” was extended to refer to any person wearing a figurative mask, pretending to be someone they were not. The meaning would come to take on religious connotations, indicating someone who confessed moral uprightness but acted contrary to it in order to play a part or to deceive others.
A prime example of this hypocrisy is found in Luke 20:20. The scribes and chief priests watched Jesus and “sent spies, who pretended to be sincere” so that they could catch Jesus and deliver him to the governing authorities. They wanted to use kindness to trick Jesus, so they were the very definition of hypocritical, playing a part to deceive.
Peter’s command in today’s passage is to love one another without acting or playing a part—without hypocrisy. Love cannot come from an insincere place, nor can it be for show or for personal gain. There is no mask, pretense, or pretending in Christian love. Brotherly love is honest, straight-forward, and properly motivated out of obedience to the abiding Word.
When you feel your heart inexplicably but inextricably bound to the plight of another, that is sincere love. When you would willingly sacrifice your own comfort or privilege to lift up a brother in need, that is sincere love. When you are willing to be honest and vulnerable even when it’s difficult, because your own personal comfort isn’t worth forfeiting fellowship, that is sincere love. When you serve not because “it’s the right thing to do,” but because joy compels you, that is sincere love.
These examples may not seem earth-shattering, but this kind of love is actually a complete and total transformation—top to bottom and inside out—of our natural state of being. You who were selfish are now servants. You who were hypocrites are now “happy-heeders” of God’s Word, cooperating with the Spirit of Truth inside you. You’ve been reborn to new life! You are renewed and transformed to be who God says you are. You are not playing the role of a Christian—you are sincerely loving like Christ. This is truly a supernatural kind of love, one that only comes from an imperishable seed, and a rebirth in God’s Spirit. What was formerly impossible for self-centered humans has been made possible by the blood of Christ. You who had rebelled now are able to live out your purified state through obedience, loving in the way you were always meant to love.
Furthermore, you are enabled to stop pretending to be someone that you’re not. You actually get to become who you are called to be. By grace, and through the power of his Word, we don’t have to pretend, and we don’t need to perform—we are transformed. We actually can love one another sincerely; our masks are no longer needed.