Text: 1 Peter 3:8-11                                          June 30, 2013



1)   The trend of the day: Society today demands people skill lot more than technical skills. Put it in simple language: How well you get along with people around you. ¡°Getting along with people¡± is so important to the success and happiness of your life, your marriage and family, career and friendship and many other areas of life related with people. One of the most difficult factors people may or may not get along well is being ¡°compatible¡± or the lack of it.

2)   What is compatibility? From various dictionaries: compatible means acceptable, agreeable, in accordance and coordinated. Compatibility is important in human relationship, in home furnishing, in color or style of clothing we wear, approach, priority or purpose in business or political world and so on. When people are compatible relationship is cordial. When approach and purpose are compatible, things runs smoothly and profitable, when decoration or furnishing is compatible, it creates present environment and people will feel at ease.

3)   Compatibility in the Bible: The Bible has much to say about compatibility between people, words and action, teaching of the word of God in personal or corporate settings. Peter wrote extensively on this subject in his first letter, chapters 2-5, on citizen and government, masters and servants, husbands and wives, the older and the younger. He realized the importance of being compatible and the possible harm if there is lack of it. He gave us some practical steps to change incompatibility into compatibility for better Christian testimony and for the glory of God.



1)    People are just so different: After 44 years of being a pastor with so much experience of dealing with people I can tell you the truth: people are very different. So, incompatible is an integral part of real life. Ironically people in our closer circle of life such as parents and sibling in family, marriage and spouse, coworker in your job are mostly incompatible. They are so different in personality, personal interest, likes and dislikes of food, color, political view, background and education, ways of doing things or expression, values, goals of life and endless others in the list. When we try to live, work or befriend with them, incompatibility is inevitable.

2)    The world is getting smaller: Since the WW II, the world is getting smaller and even smaller after the development of the internet communication network. Societies, particularly in the US, are becoming multi-cultural melting pots. Unlike the olden years when people seldom moved from where they were born all their life, today, we meet people from all over the world with different cultures, values, traditions, religions and many other differences. These people are genuinely very different from you and me in what we hold to be dear. When you meet them in the neighborhood, in school, at work or in church and try to do things with them, there will be some differences and even conflicts if we don¡¯t manage it well.

3)    God created us as individuals: Manufacturer of cars, bicycles or refrigerators or machineries made their products with modes or prototypes with quality control to make sure every product of the same kind comes out look alike, function alike. If you know how to use one, you can use everyone the same way. But God did not create people that way. God had different purpose for each life; he gave each person different and unique personality and ability to fulfill his purpose. God puts many different people in a place such as a family or a church for his grand purpose as Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 12. We all have different contributions to offer to each other for the common good of all the people.



1)    To ignore or segregate: This is the most common way people handle incompatibility. This approach was employed in racial and cultural incompatibility in US and elsewhere. Some people still see it as the most logical and easiest way to solve the problem: since we are so incompatible, let¡¯s stay away from each other like in marriage and society. Yes, this may decrease tension and conflicts, but it creates suspicion, prejudice, tension, discrimination and non-cooperation. This approach certainly cuts down the benefits of combined wisdom, strength and possibility of achieving higher and better goals of life. We won¡¯t learn from each other, appreciate each other or work with each other. When people takes this easy way out, they will never learn how to work with different people, to accommodate, to mature and to be tolerant with differences.

2)    Getting angry and quit: When people are incompatible with one another, some resort to anger instead of accommodation and finally they quit like some marriages or business partnership. This people belong to ¡°my way or no way¡± category. They may carry the wounds of anger and wonder why people couldn¡¯t work with them or follow their way.

3)    Stay put and fight to win: This is the worst way to handle the problem of incompatibility. These people won¡¯t quit, they stay and fight to win their way. They don¡¯t care the spirit of unity to the point they will hurt those who are incompatible with them. These are dictatorial or controlling people. People like this will hurt others around them in a family a working place or a church.



1)   Follow Christian virtues: ¡°Finally, all of you, live in harmony with one another; be sympathetic, love as brothers, be com-passionate and humble.¡± (3:8) Peter listed 5 important virtues all Christians need to adhere when dealing with people who are not compatible with them: harmony, sympathetic, love, humble and compassionate. Is there anything else we need to live, work or serve with people who are incompatible with us than applying these 5 Christian virtues? Instead of segregation, we pursue harmony; instead of getting angry, we try sympathy; instead of hatred of difference, we love; instead of feeling superior, we become humble. Nothing else is needed than these great virtues to handle incompatible situation.

2)   Mindful of our status: ¡°Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult but with blessing, because to this you are called so that you may inherit a blessing.¡± (3:9)Peter reminded us our status as God¡¯s children: we are called to inherit blessings of God. The primary goal of life for God¡¯s children is not to repay evil with evil or insult with insult but with blessing. In dealing with problems from incompatible people, we need to remember we are called to inherit God¡¯s blessing and we need to bless others instead of revenge or fight back. We need to learn from the Lord as he was humble and meek in his heart.

3)   Careful of our response: ¡°He must turn from evil and do good; he must seek peace and pursue it.¡± (3:11) Making peace with people is never easy particularly to the incompatible. It is very easy to have conflicts that may lead to division. Instead of focusing on differences or magnify elements of incompatibility, we may focus on element of compatibility to the utmost extend. We may also learn to see things from different angles from those we see as incompatible. In doing these, we may be able to do good and pursue peace with all people around us.



1)    It is never easy to do that: Although we realize that Peter had good advice for us to love, be compassionate, be humble and sympathetic to keep harmony with people who are incompatible with us, in practical life, it is easier to say than to do. A little girl once wrote a letter to God on this issue: ¡°Dear God: I bet it must be very hard for you to love all of everyone in the whole world. There are four of us in our family, and I can never do that.---Nancy.¡± Often times, we can¡¯t even practice the Bible to those closest to us in our family and in our church. How can we do it to people in the world so they know we are God¡¯s children?

2)    Learn from a champion coach: The coach of a champion foot-ball team was asked in an interview how could he put all the compatible people together to form a winning team. Here is his answer as reported: ¡°What counts most in creating a winning team is not how compatible the team members are, but how we deal with the incompatibility of each member.¡± I guess we can learn from people in the world, sometimes, how we function as a body of Christ in a church, in a family so we can build a winning team to win the world for Christ.