In the second chapter of his first letter Peter counsels his readers to “live such good lives among the pagans that . . . they may see your good deeds and glorify God” (vs. 12) Then in the next breath he adds, “It is God’s will that by doing good you should silence the ignorant talk of foolish people” (vs. 15). What attracts my attention in these verses is not that believers should live a good life (that is obvious) but that the purpose for living that way is its impact on others. Not only is the good life good in itself but it has a good influence on others. Peter refers to non-believers rather bluntly as “pagans,” as ”foolish people” who speak out of ignorance. It could be argued that that kind of person is beyond help but Peter would disagree. The truth of the gospel plays a role in ever situation of life. Consider the following.
In the first place, the good life of Christian believers does not go unnoticed. It isn’t something that is done in the corner. The outside world may not agree with our religious commitment but they can hardly escape noticing that we react quite differently to the passing events that constitute daily life. At least our lives should catch their attention. Each day is filled with events that reveal a different way of responding to the realities of everyday life. For the Christian, disappointment is tempered by hope, sorrow by joy, discontent by acceptance. Peter says that although the pagan may accuse the believer of doing wrong, the believer’s good deeds will ultimately lead them to glorify our God (2:12).
At the same time a believer’s good deeds will silence the vocal opposition of those living apart from the truth (2:15). Acts have a powerful way of revealing one’s position on common issues because something is actually happening. Words are words – they float in and out but in themselves are less than convincing. It is not until that which is said becomes that which is done that words effect change. Peter encourages us to do good works because they are a powerful method of “telling” the good news of God’s redemptive love. Speak when appropriate but always do. Living the good life not only brings deep personal satisfaction but provides for others examples of how God would have us live.