By Richard Boone
In every person’s life comes the moment when he or she faces the question of motivation — why do I do what I do? Every Christian needs to ask and answer this question frequently. Those who take on special roles such as elders, deacons, preachers, teachers, etc. should ask and answer this question even more frequently. It is a question that was recently driven home to me when studying 1 and 2 Peter.
Warren Wiersbe, in his Biblical Exposition Commentary, interestingly observed: “Some writings are manufactured out of books, the way freshmen students write term papers; but this letter (1 Peter, rb) grew out of a life lived to the glory of God. A number of events in Peter’s life are woven into the fabric of this epistle” (II:388). It was from this new perspective that I studied 1 and 2 Peter and gleaned more from them than I ever had before. This also gave me insight into Peter’s motivation.
2 Peter 1:12-15 says, “Therefore, I will not be negligent to remind you always of these things, though you know them, and are established in the present truth. Yes, I think it is right, as long as I am in this tent, to stir you up by reminding you, knowing that shortly I must put off my tent, just as our Lord Jesus Christ showed me. Moreover, I will be careful to ensure that you always have a reminder of these things after my decease.” It is from this text that we focus attention on why we do what we do, especially in teaching the gospel of Christ.
To Avoid Negligence (v. 12)
Evangelists are specifically instructed not to neglect the abilities they have in preaching and teaching, to “fulfill your ministry” (1 Tim. 4:14; 2 Tim. 1:6; 4:5). We should develop and be encouraged to develop every strength we have for use in the kingdom, as well as strengthening our weaknesses.
Peter’s reference to negligence, however, is the failure to teach all that needs to be taught. Plainly speaking, there is nothing that can be left out of our teaching (Acts 20:27). No passage or biblical subject is exempt. When we leave something out, or are encouraged to leave certain subjects alone, be sure that Satan will rear his head and take advantage of that area of weakness. His prey are those who are untaught, thus unstable (1 Pet. 5:9; 2 Pet. 2:14; 3:16-18). Negligence in balanced teaching opens doors for departures from the faith.
To Remind Those Already Established in the Truth (vv. 12, 13, 15)
In the four short verses of our text, “remind” is mentioned three times. That tells us something about human nature — we are forgetful. We can forget instruction not heard in a long time, or our ability to connect passages on a given theme becomes rusty — all because we were/are not periodically reminded. To hear first-principle lessons, perhaps those we’ve heard many times, can reinforce sound teaching, and may even open new doors of thinking and application.
Lessons on the inspiration of the Bible, its theme, the identity of Christ, authority, the church, etc., are needed lest a generation arise which is untaught on these vital points (cf. Judg. 2:7ff). All it takes is one untaught generation to cause serious internal problems. A vital part of the work of a local church is the repetition of fundamental themes and teaching.
To Establish Others in the Truth (v. 12)
Though not specified in the text, a by-product of repeating established points is the benefit to those not yet established in truth. Any general audience will have unbelievers who are willing to consider evidence, young Christians who need to be strengthened, those who have never matured as Christians, and mature Christians. This opens the field considerably when contemplating the potential for good (or evil) that we have. Not only can we influence the mature, but the unbeliever and immature can be tremendously helped by fulfilling the respective areas of service we have.
It Is Right (v. 13)
By their very nature, there are some things that are just right to do, and we should want to abound in such things (cp. 2 Pet. 1:13; Eph. 6:1). One of those things is to continue to teach, as Peter did, because “it is right.”
It is right and proper for one to want to teach as many people as he can. Not only can we influence by teaching, but also by our example (read 1 Pet. 2:12, 14-16; 3:1-2,16; etc.). We do so, when properly motivated, because it is simply the right thing to do.
The Reality of Limited Opportunities (vv. 13, 14)
Let’s face it, folks — we won’t be here forever. Peter realized this in our text — “as long as I am in this tent . . . knowing that shortly I must put off this tent, just as our Lord Jesus Christ showed me.” He knew that opportunities were limited, thus more precious.
Similarly, whether shorter or longer, our time and opportunities are limited. That is why we must take advantage of every opportunity that we have to teach and influence people with the truth in whatever scriptural means we can. How many times have we put off taking advantage of opportunities because of inconvenience, only to lose them? I shudder to answer that question! Why should we be “fervent in spirit, serving the Lord” (Rom. 12:11)? Because we won’t live on this earth forever. May God help us to take advantage of every opportunity that we have to faithfully serve him, and thereby serve others.
To Stir People Up (v. 13)
Sometimes we use this term “stir” to mean “rile.” No, I don’t mean that we should try to “anger” people! However, we should strive to “stir” people — to rouse from sleep, kindle, etc. (Vine). To waken people out of lethargy can be done in any combination of three ways: instruction, correction, and encouragement. Nehemiah 8 is a good ex- ample of being stirred to responsibility as people of God. As one brother said years ago, “The greatest problem in the church is not that of winning others to the kingdom, but that of arousing those who are already members to a sense of their responsibility.” I am convinced he’s right; if we can accomplish that, then the work of evangelism will be accomplished.
To Leave A Faithful Legacy For Future Generations (v. 15)
Nearing the end of his life, Peter wanted to ensure that Christians of the next and subsequent generations would have the necessary reminders on proper living when he was gone. He, by his own example and epistles, left just such reminders — for centuries to follow.
Surely, each us wants to leave a faithful example and reminders about godly living for our children and grand- children, even generations beyond. We can do that with our lives (example) and by the pen (instruction).
Think about those who “being dead still speak” (Heb. 11:4). We have the writings of the Bible, numerous uninspired works which direct us to the Bible, personal letters and cards of encouragement, etc. We can reflect on these years after they were written and glean much from them. “But I’m just one person, I can’t make that much difference.” Do you really believe that? Consider the following example.
Jeroboam was just one man, but his departures from truth impacted an entire kingdom for 200 years (1 Kings 12:25-33; 16:30-33; 2 Kings 17:16). It is said or implied about every king in the Northern Kingdom that he “walked in the ways of Jeroboam, the son of Nebat, who made Israel to sin.” Can one man leave a legacy? You better believe it! Just think about what Israel might have been had they not departed from the truth. One’s legacy for good can be equally strong, even stronger, than one’s legacy of apostasy. Case in point: Abraham — the father of all who believe (Rom. 4:11-12,16-17).
In 2 Peter 1:12-15 we have insight into the mind set and motivation of Peter. It is encouraging to study why he did what he did. As long as we keep his motives in mind and serve based on these, we will do well. Any motive less than these — and there are some (see 1 Cor. 4:3-4) — is dishonorable for a Christian and injurious to the cause of Christ.