Study Guide


Defined by Love - Study Guide

Posted by Sara Goetz on

We are so glad that you are digging deeper into this week's conversation, "Defined by Love,” week 3 of our series in the letter of 1 Peter. This guide was written to help you process and better understand the message. Feel free to answer some or all of the questions or focus on one aspect from this study guide that speaks to the group. Think of this as a resource to help you and your group listen to the Holy Spirit and respond to His calling.

Did you miss the sermon? Click here. Looking to download a PDF version of this week's study guide? Click here.  

This week we will explore the question:
How do we negotiate the tension of our identity (as citizens of heaven), who neither alienate or assimilate into the world around us?

Opening Questions:

Do you remember having your fingers stuck in a finger-trap like the one pictured below? What is counterintuitive about this kind of trap?

Wikipedia explains this finger trap as “a gag toy used to play a practical joke on unsuspecting children and adults. The finger trap is a simple puzzle that traps the victim's fingers (often the index fingers) in both ends of a small cylinder woven from bamboo. The victim’s initial reaction is to pull their fingers outward, but this only tightens the trap. The way to escape the trap is to push the ends toward the middle, which enlarges the openings and frees the fingers.”

The finger-trap is seen as an analogy for the tension that we feel as citizens of heaven trying to follow Jesus' example NO MATTER WHAT. We tend to pull away, run and hide, or isolate ourselves. Jesus calls us to do the opposite.

Read I Peter 3:8-18. As you read, jot down notes about one or more of the following:

  • What stands out to you/stood out to you as you listened to the weekend message? 
  • What is difficult for you?
  • Have you experienced the unity, love, compassion, etc., that Peter is talking about? When?
  • Have you experienced the OPPOSITE of the unity, love, compassion, etc.… that Peter is talking about? When?

Study Questions

Take some time as a group to create definitions of the virtues that God wants present in our lives, as seen in I Peter 3:8. Then, come up with opposite virtues for the ones given to us by Peter.

Example of Jesus Definition Opposite


Rom 12:4-5. Col 3:14, Phil 2:2 Gal 3:28






Rom 12:15, Eph 3:32, 

2 Cor 1:3-4





Brotherly Love

John 3:35; 13:34-35, 

Rom 12:10, Mark 9:41






2 Cor 1:3-4, Zech 7:9-10,

Psalm 103:13






James 4:10, Luke 14:11

Prov 11:2; 12:15






Use the working definitions given in the weekend message & generate an opposite virtue.

Example of Jesus Definition Opposite
Unity Cooperation in our diversity
Sympathy Doing the work to imagine what someone’s struggle is and thinking about what it would feel like to be in that situation.



Brotherly Love Coming to someone’s rescue regardless of why they are in pain.



Compassion An inability to sit and watch.
Humility Thinking of others more than we think about ourselves.
  • Consider these virtues and their opposites. Discuss why we tend to lean to the OPPOSITE of whom Jesus calls us to be rather than to be conformed with Him. What holds us back from pursuing unity, sympathy, brotherly love, compassion, humility? What fears inhibit us from working to build these virtues into our lives?

  • In 1 Peter 3:9, we are commanded to “not repay evil with evil or insult with insult. On the contrary, repay evil with blessing because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing.” In this verse, we learn that: 1. We can expect evil and that 2. We should repay evil with love. Have you or are you experiencing evil, unfairness, or bias? What is your natural reaction? How does your reaction align or misalign with what Peter is teaching?

    Pastor Clint said that “we can trust that God will bring us justice and deliverance when the timing is right.” What is risky about believing and behaving in a way that this is true? What are the potential gains from believing and behaving in a way that this is true?

  • Pastor Adrian told how his life changed because someone returned his mean and insulting statements with love. In response, Pastor Clint said, “Love gets the job done.” Discuss as a group what IS the job that love gets done. What are we called to do? What is our objective(s) as citizens of heaven? What is the promise/assurance in believing that “love gets the job done?” Read 1 Peter 3:18. In what way have we benefited from this truth? 

  • Think back to the beginning of your time together during this study and the analogy of the finger-trap. What trap will we find ourselves in if we do NOT commit to growing in unity, sympathy, brotherly love, compassion, and humility? How is resisting these virtues such as trying to PULL your fingers out of a finger-trap? How is embracing these virtues like pushing your fingers together to be released from the trap?

  • Pastor Clint and Pastor Adrian ended the message by asking us to evaluate our hearts and our relationships. Of the five virtues discussed, which do you feel compelled to emulate more perfectly? Which ones have you been neglecting? How can you seek community with other Christians this week in a way that demonstrates the supernatural power of God? How is the truth that “God’s grace fills our gap” encouraging, supportive, and freeing?

  • Daily Steps
    We encourage you to check out 
    Daily Steps, our companion devotional guide for individual reflection, prayer, and meditation on related Scripture selections throughout the week!


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