8 Finally, all of you, be like-minded, be sympathetic, love one another, be compassionate and humble.
Peter is encouraging the church to stand firm in the face of rising persecution and suffering. Very soon after writing this letter the believers faced tremendous persecution at the hand of the Roman Emperor Nero. To encourage them to stand firm Peter reminds them that they are chosen and called of God and that their troubles here are temporary but their reward is an eternal, heavenly inheritance. Then he began to give them specific instructions on how to conduct themselves in the hostile environment in which they lived. He urges them to live righteous lives so that they would be credible witnesses. Their responses to ill treatment were important. In the midst of suffering we are to respond properly to the unbelievers in government, in the workplace and even the unbelieving spouse. But our response with other believers are important as well. It helps to encourage them so he tells us that we are to live in harmony in believers, having the right attitude towards each other.
To live in harmony is the understanding of working together in unity, each person contributing their part so that we can accomplish the work of the Master.
Be sympathetic: learn to identify with the pain of others. Share in their sorrows and their joys. Don't be insensitive and indifferent. Don't start by trying to teach them what they did wrong but come up alongside one another and identify with their struggle first.
Love as brothers: As believers we must realize that the family of God is as important as our earthly family. Demonstrate love towards them by making them a high priority, by serving them unselfishly and accepting them unconditionally.
Be compassionate: much like being sympathetic. We feel the pain of our brothers and sisters so much so that it moves us to action.
Be humble: in other words. be others-minded.
This simple list is a great reminder of what our GROW groups are built on. As we live in a hostile world we need a place where we can experience safety, security and encouragement. A place where we work together in harmony. A place where we can experience sympathy and compassion. A place where we experience God's unconditional love with people who put the needs of others above their own needs. Why not give it a try?