Healthy, Wealthy, and Wise: Living Ethically in the Light of the Bible
John 9:13-23; 2 Peter 3:14-18; Job 4; Lamentations 5
Peter urges Christians to look to the future as they deal with the present difficulties. We saw yesterday that as Job suffered, he looked to the past and cursed the day he was born. Eliphaz similarly looked back, telling Job to place his confidence in his good works (Job 4:6). You reap what you sow, Eliphaz claims, and therefore bad times can be traced to our bad actions. The book of Job, and the Bible more generally, rejects this sort of karmic law. Sometimes we suffer because of Satan, as in Job’s case; sometimes we suffer because we live in a dangerous, broken world (Luke 13:1-5; John 9:1-3).
Our confidence should not be based on our works, but on the work of God. Peter has just reminded his readers that the Day of the Lord is coming (2 Peter 3:8-13). We should be looking forward to this Day and reflecting on what the future with the Lord holds. This is difficult given how much we are urged to focus on the present, or at most the short-term future. This can often get us into ethical difficulties as short-term gain can be more appealing than developing patience as we grow in the grace and knowledge of the Lord. Looking to our eternal home helps provide motivation to live our lives in ways that the Lord endorses. We will never achieve moral perfection, as Paul himself acknowledged (Philippians 3:12), but we should continue to strive towards the ideal that was portrayed in Jesus’ life.
In today’s passage, Peter also provides an important insight into the early church’s view of Paul’s writings. Peter includes Paul’s writings among those viewed as Scripture. While he does not explicitly declare that Paul’s writings were Scripture, he uses the Greek term that the New Testament always uses for the authoritative, canonical books of the Bible. Similarly, Paul quotes as Scripture a passage from the Old Testament along with a verse from one of the Gospels (Luke 10:7). Even in the lifetime of the New Testament authors, their writings were being recognised as Scripture and therefore authoritative in guiding those seeking to follow the Lord. At the same time, Peter recognises that even Scripture can be distorted or misunderstood. He therefore calls on all believers to diligently watch for error, implying that everything has a responsibility to know their Bible and critically evaluate what they read and hear. Paul likewise urged such diligence (1 Corinthians 14:29), and praised the Bereans for carefully examining whether his own teachings agreed with Scripture (Acts 17:11).