“Whoever would love life and see good days must keep his tongue from evil and his lips from deceitful speech. He must turn from evil and do good; he must seek peace and pursue it.”1 Peter 3:10-11
As my 46-year prison sentence was being handed down, I faced a choice. I could either grow hard-hearted and bitter, or I could be free on the inside by obeying God. To experience His comforting presence, pardon, and peace, I knew I had to begin seeking His best for my prison home and everyone inside its walls.
This lesson was taught to me by the writings of the prophet Jeremiah who commanded his exiled audience to pursue the welfare of Babylon, their own “prison” of sorts (Jeremiah 29:1-7). The captives were urged to be productive and virtuous citizens there so they could experience heaven’s blessing during their lengthy incarceration.
As if for emphasis, the New Testament repeats this message to Christians living in a hostile, unbelieving world (see 1 Peter 2:13-25 and 4:12-19). Sharing God’s prodigal grace with our neighbors (even our enemies!) by pursuing their peace brings His blessing. This is what He did for us in Christ at the cross: Jesus bore our sin’s penalty while we were yet the enemies of God (Romans 5:1-11).
“Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy…. Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.” (Matthew 5:7, 9)