If you heard, or read, “The eyes of the Lord are on the righteous,” what would you think — positive or negative?
Does your mind conjure up an image of a fearsome giant waiting with his club raised, following you around daring you to misstep?
Or do you see the image of a kindly father, watching over his flock with firm and gentle care?
So much depends on tone, and it’s hard to feel tone in writing. Looking at the context helps some.
1 Peter is a letter written to encourage believers suffering persecution. Peter urges them to do good regardless of their dangerous and daunting circumstances, because God has chosen them, showered them with mercy, and is for them.
Ordinary fear inspires running, hiding, denying. Reverent fear is borne of love, and inspires honesty, confidence, openness, and trust.
So, do not imagine Peter towering dark above you, shaking his finger at you with a glare. Instead, as you read his letter, let the love and mercy of God sink in, steep in your soul, nourish every part, and the good you do will be properly motivated. And the good you fail to do, you will be motivated to confess freely, with confidence and trust.
How hard it is for people to encourage one another to do good, without it sounding like condemnation or the threat of condemnation.