To pick up where we left off, Peter tells us that the reason we are called to “do good” to those in authority who abuse and hurt us is because God wants to use us to “put to silence the ignorance of foolish people” (1 Peter 2:15). We should also note that the Greek term found here (agathosune) refers to God’s moral character reflected in us (Mark 10:18). Saints cannot “do good” naturally because, when God is ruled out of the equation, “no one does good” (Rom. 3:12). The flesh profits nothing. However, when one is born of God, he takes on the character qualities of God, practicing righteousness—doing good because he is born of God (1 John 3:10).
In other words, Peter calls upon the believers to behave toward those who spitefully use them or abuse them with kindness and gentleness by doing good to them. Good in God is essential, absolute, and consummate. God is the only good. No one can do good who is not of God. Thus, the good that believers do is morally honorable, pleasing to God, and beneficial.
In this fallen world where “no one does good, not even one,” how do we account for the apparent goodness around us? The world often puts the church to shame by acts of sacrificial generosity. It takes discernment to understand the root issue, which is, who gets the glory? That is why we are not to be “conformed to this world” but by being “transformed” so that we may, by testing, prove “what is the will of God, what is good” (Rom. 12:2). Why do we do “good”? Is it to promote self or glorify God? “Whoever serves, let him serve by the strength which God supplies—in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 4:11).
If one retaliates to wrongful treatment, he proves that he is self-driven. When one responds with goodness, he proves that he is empowered by God. David is an example here (1 Sam. 25:9–39). Rebuffed by Nabal’s demeaning rejection of his plea for assistance, David sought revenge in anger (vv. 13, 22). His personal expectation of respect as Israel’s future king had been met with disdain and contempt (v. 10). His pride hurt, David thought that he had a right to retaliate. However, to do so would have tarnished the throne he was to occupy (v. 26) and would have brought dishonor to his God (vv. 31–34). God graciously intervened in the person of Nabal’s wife, Abagail, who did good to her foolish husband by humbling herself to David and assuaging his anger. Abagail saved Nabal’s life by owning Nabal’s folly in her own person. What sounds to western ears as criticism (v. 25) was, to a near-eastern woman, an admission of her own status. In a godly act, she owned that she was the wife of a fool by degrading herself before David. In that, she “put to silence the ignorance of foolish [David].”