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Put it Away

“So put away all malice and all deceit and hypocrisy and envy and all slander.” (1 Peter 2:1) This stuff needs to be put away, or somebody is going to get hurt.
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Who says this?  “Put all this stuff away!”  A lot of us recognize it as something Mom or Dad said to us—and a lot of us have said it ourselves to our own kids.  Bosses might say it to their employees, or teachers to students, perhaps spouses or neighbors to one another during an argument.

And apostles of Jesus Christ say it to all of us:  “So put away all malice and all deceit and hypocrisy and envy and all slander.” (1 Peter 2:1)

This stuff needs to be put away, or somebody is going to get hurt.

Our flesh, our human nature, is constantly getting out these sharp, dangerous things.  We carelessly—or even worse, deliberately—allow these things out into the open, in our hearts if nowhere else.

Malice is a really ugly word and we don’t readily admit to feeling it.  We tend to layer some deceit over it to hide it—including hiding it from ourselves.  Thus achieving hypocrisy.  Why?  Because we are envious.  And in our ill-will toward the one we envy, we are quick to slander them.  Do you see how the things Peter talks about can be related?

Of course, we can be deceitful and hypocritical about all kinds of things!  Envy isn’t necessarily the root, and our slander may arise out of something else entirely.  We don’t necessarily have the complete set of things Peter mentions.  But he’s very firm:  “Put them all away.”  He might have added, “Right now!”

Peter isn’t alone.  Check out Ephesians 4, Colossians 3, James 1.  Three apostles, same message:  Put this stuff away!  Note that Paul and James put additional dangerous things on the list of what we must put away.

And note also, the apostles are realistic.  As long as we inhabit these “bodies of death” (Romans 7:24), we will not be able to destroy the ugly impulses that arise from our nature.  What they command is that we put them away.  Where?  On a shelf where they’re easily retrieved?  Better be in a locked cabinet.

What I mean is this.  We need to have something in place, so that when we start gravitating to ill-will, or envy, or immorality, or deceit, we face barriers to bringing those things out.  How?  As always, we need to look to Jesus.  When tempted, he had already prepared his defenses—intimate knowledge of scripture, and commitment to uphold it.  And he prayed.  And he spent his time with other people of spiritual mind.  When taunted and opposed and reviled, the locks held.

When we face a real mess, it can seem overwhelming, impossible to get it all put away.  All we can do is take care of one item at a time.  Put that away.  And then work on that.  If we leave those things out, they’re going to end up hurting someone—people we love, people for whom Christ died, and guaranteed, most of all, we will harm our own spiritual lives.

Love, Paul


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