March 13 - 1 Peter 3:8-12

Thursday, March 13, 2014

1 Peter 3:8-12 – Blessing

Finally, all of you, be like-minded, be sympathetic, love one another, be compassionate and humble. Do 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. For, 

         “Whoever would love life and see good days must keep their tongue from evil and their lips from deceitful speech. They must turn from evil and do good; they must seek peace and pursue it. 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.” 

We are truly visitors in a pagan land. And yet, Peter tells us that we must live together in here, with each other and with the residents of this world.  Within the Christian community, though, we should feel safe. We shouldn't have to face the same types of stress that we do in the world. He gives us five characteristics for living together:

1. Live in unity with each other.  In other words - be of like mind.  This is very similar to Paul's teaching to the Philippians in Philippians 1:27-2:4. Both of these men were trying to teach something that seems so simple, yet is so alien to our nature.

2. Be sympathetic. The Greek is sympatheis and means 'feeling with.' Romans 12:15 tells us to rejoice with those who rejoice and mourn with those who mourn.

3. Love as brothers. Greek - philadelphoi.  1 Thessalonians 4:9. Paul says that he didn't need to tell us about brotherly love because we had already been taught by God to do this. It should be obvious to everyone how to love each other because of God's love for us.

4. Be compassionate.  This word is found only one other time in the New Testament - in Ephesians 4:32.  This is a tender-heart towards someone in need. It shouldn't matter what the person has or has not done to be in need, our task as Christians is to be compassionate … always.

5. Be humble. Putting others before ourselves. This is a difficult thing for us to do, especially in today's culture. We believe in the 'me first' mentality. If we don't grab the goal, someone else will. That is absolutely against the teaching of Jesus and Peter reminds us of that fact.

In verse 9, Peter tells us we aren't to repay evil with evil or insult for insult.  I'm reminded of a friend's story. He was a veterinarian in a small town in northern Iowa and one of the local farmers had decided that he was just not going to pay this friend for an incredible amount of work that had been done. The community was small enough that tales were told and people began taking sides. One day, the friend pulled into a gas station and ended up on the other side of a pump from the farmer, who scowled and refused to speak. My friend heard God telling him that forgiveness needed to happen. He didn't rush over to the man and ask for forgiveness, he stood there and forgave the man in his heart and chose to love beyond the anger. It was my friend who needed to forgive first, because it was too much for the other man to break the cycle. With his heart firmly in the right place, he could pray for healing and it wasn't long until the incident was fixed and forgotten. Insult for insult, evil for evil … it never pays.

Peter goes on to say that we must react with blessing instead, because it is to this we are called as Christians.  The reason is so that we may inherit a blessing. Jesus speaks of that inheritance in Matthew 5:10-12, while Peter goes on to quote from Psalm 34:12-16.

Holiness must go out from us in our interactions with people, first within the body of Christ and secondly to the world.