Every day we hear of some famous or important person whose reputation is ruined because it is discovered their “public persona” – their “image” – does not match their private life.
My Bible reading this morning included a passage that emphasized, if I expect to maintain any kind of a valid witness as a Christian there are two aspects of my life that are important: The personal dimension, and my life in public. Peter wrote to scattered Christians all over the ancient Roman empire who had faced persecution for their faith. This is what he urged them to do…
“Dear Christian friends, I urge you, as foreigners and exiles, to abstain from sinful desires, which wage war against your soul. Live such good lives among the pagans (i.e. those who are NOT Christ followers) that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us.” (from 1 Peter 2:11–12 NIV)
There are many things that “war against our soul.” Many of them are not necessarily sinful but they distract from, diminish, and leach away spiritual vitality. Others are marginal activities or outright “sinful desires” and should not be entertained by a devoted follower of Jesus. They should be viewed as enemies and Peter says “they war against the soul.” They are a part of our personal lives! But if care is not exercised the results of neglect will be seen in our public lives. We know what they are… the Bible identifies many of them and the Holy Spirit convicts us of others!
But out public testimony is also important! Peter stresses that our lives should be so blameless that even if we are false accused, there is absolutely no evidence to support the accusation. We live honorable lives, filled with good deeds, that causes even our accusers to be silenced and some to even eventually come to faith in Christ because of our blameless behavior!
So my prayer today? Oh Lord help me on both counts… A personal life that is painstakingly pure, and a public lifestyle and witness that is blameless… And all for the glory of God regardless of the temptations or trials I am facing every day!