I feel like I spend so much time in my house telling my one (or both) of my kids, “treat him the way you want to be treated, not the way he treated you!” Or, “you are not supposed to do back to her whatever bad thing she did do to you. You are supposed to be better to her!” Or, my favorite, “I wish you two would show more kindness to one another, rather than just being plain old mean and vicious!”
And then I get on Facebook. And sometimes I feel like I need to say the same things to half of the people in my news feed. Particularly these last couple of weeks.
I have even had some recent conversations with people (of the adult variety) where I had to say the same things to them that I say to my children. Obviously in a different and less parent-y way, but the same nonetheless.
So when I read this in my devotional time one evening last week, I really resonated with it, and subsequently wanted to personally share it with every human being that I know that needs to hear these words. But then I would be doing exactly what I despise and behaving in the exact ways that this passage tells me not to. So instead, I have just been meditating on it and how it applies to me and how I live my life. The passage is found in 1 Peter 3:8-17:
8 Finally, all of you, live in harmony with one another; be sympathetic, love as brothers, be compassionate and humble. 9 Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult, but with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing. 10 For,
“Whoever would love life
and see good days
must keep his tongue from evil
and his lips from deceitful speech.
11 He must turn from evil and do good;
he must seek peace and pursue it.
12 For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous
and his ears are attentive to their prayer,
but the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.”
13 Who is going to harm you if you are eager to do good? 14 But even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed. “Do not fear what they fear; do not be frightened.” 15 But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, 16 keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander. 17 It is better, if it is God’s will, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil.
Powerful words about the power of our words and actions. Promises of blessing when we do right and when we are eager to do good.
I know it is hard when someone says something mean (and possibly untrue) about you. Our natural tendency is to defend ourselves, which is where we tend to get into trouble. In the process of defending ourselves, we can sometimes end up repaying “evil with evil or insult with insult.”
But as Christians, we are told to repay evil and insult with blessing. In Matthew 5:44, Jesus tells us to “love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.”
That means no matter what is done to you or said about you, you don’t get to retaliate in like manner and get away with it. That means that you are called to a higher level of action, even when it hurts. Even when it is devastating. Even when it seems impossible to do so.
And you can, because “what is impossible with men is possible with God.” (Luke 18:27)
Can you imagine if all of those who claim to be followers of Christ would actually act this way? Can you imagine the change in the social climate? The political scene? The neighborhood park? The nation’s schools? The workplace?
What would it be like if everyone repaid evil with blessing? It would be a much better world than the one in which we currently live. May it start with me.
How do you react to this idea? What ways could you implement this into your life more fully?