Peter is drawing a contrast – a dinstiction between the things that are simply pretty to look at and the things that actually endure. He says that pretty, showy things such as silver and gold are corruptible, perishable – they won’t last. If we desire something that is incorruptible, imperishable Peter tells us that we will have to seek for it among the things that are not showy or necessarily “pretty.” In fact, he selects for us a most humble, simple and certainly unshowy example of that which is incorruptible and imperishable – “a gentle and quiet spirit.”
If Peter had asked the nations of his day to each select their own symbol of that which is enduring, imperishable and incorruptible not one of them would have chosen what he did. They would have selected those symbols which portray something loud, flashy and flamboyant. The pyramids of Egypt. The flowers of Greece. The soaring, screeching eagle of Rome. Not one of them would have said, “The emblem that best fits that which is incorruptible or imperishable is a gentle and quiet spirit.”
Who first said that? Jesus did. He preached it in His marvelous Sermon on the Mount. He promised that it was the meek which would be permanent. Peter got his idea from Jesus. He had to because he certainly didn’t have a gentle or quiet spirit. He was by nature loud and showy and always eager to promote and push himself. But he had been captivated by a life that was such an opposite from his. In the beginning he would have promised imperishability to the powers which could walk on the water, but after Jesus impacted his life he now promises it to the quiet deeds of the heart.
Never despise your moments of silence. Don’t look down on your moments of self-restraint. Doesn’t the Revelator tell us that the Book of Life belongs to the Lamb? What does that mean? Simply that the most enduring image is the most quiet image. Think about it. What has been the most enduring thing in even the most chaotic and changing times? It is the greatest act of humiliation and self-restraint in all of history – Jesus’ death on Calvary’s cross. Everything else from that day has long since faded from sight. Their thrones have teetered, tottered and toppled. Kingdoms have come and gone. Fashions have fallen and faded. But that one great, silent act of self-denial and surrender, done in a corner of a captured city, is as fresh and powerful today as it was on that day.
The old world with its faces and fashions is long gone. Rome’s great eagle has fallen from the sky. Greece’s beautiful flowers have withered and dried. Egypt’s great pyramids are nothing but dilapidated ruins. There is only one spot on that old map that remains green and beautiful still – a little hill called Calvary. It stands there undimmed, undilluted and undying. It has outlived both the legion and the cohort, the Senate and even Caesar himself. Pilate, Herod and Caiaphas are dead and buried. The Priest and the Levite walk that spot no more, but Calvary still remains in vibrant view. And it’s message still remains, “…the incorruptible and imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit.”