1 Peter 3:8-12 Repaying Evil with 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. 10 For,

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

Repaying Evil With Blessing

If you repay evil with blessing, it will often be regarded as sarcastic and lead to more pain.  When you repay evil with blessing, it might empower the oppressor to subjugate you more fully and with a harder hand.  If you repay evil with blessing, it is naive and senseless.  These are some of the objections that I can hear around me as we look at repaying evil with blessing.  There is a strong connection in this regard to forgiveness.  If we respond to injustice with forgiveness, then justice will be done.  I will lose control, I will not be safe, and I will not be accepted for who I am.  When we perceive evil in others we want it eradicated so that we are protected and we are able to live without fear.  Why doesn’t God just, then remove the evil so that I can feel safe and secure?

There are a couple of important points to note.  When we repay evil with judgment and revenge, we do so to protect ourselves without thought of our own evil.  We do not see ourselves as having any residual evil from the ‘old man’ that we were before we began following Christ.  Also, repaying evil with evil lacks faith.  It wrests control away from God and seeks to manage our own lives with safety and not faith as the primary goal.  We must act in a way that love demands.  This means forgiving those who harm us and treat us with disrespect, remembering in the process that we are being forgiven a debt that is immeasurably more than the offense that we are asked to forgive.  I believe that much in the way of unforgiveness is connected with both fear and also self-righteousness.  To forgive, though is not to be reconciled necessarily.  As much as it is up to us, we should live at peace with everyone.  However, sometimes people will put us in real danger or doggedly estrange themselves from us.  We give control of that over to God, too.

Each believer must understand deeply that they are worth every bit as much as every other human that God has created.  However, they need to then put their rights to one side and then consider others before themselves.  This is hard when you live in fear of the other person.  It doesn’t mean letting the person do whatever they wish.  It means doing whatever you perceive to be the best thing for the other person as well as yourself.  God designed the world so that we would have intrapersonal and interpersonal peace.  Harmony in the community is built by people who are harmoniously attuned with God.  From a fearless position of faith such people can make arrangements to follow through on what they believe to be best for the community.  Even some very hard decisions, like turning a loved one over to the police, can be a profound act of love motivated by a desire for redemption.

Let’s not foster contempt and sadistic delight in our hearts.  Let’s foster desire for peace and love.  Let’s sacrifice ourselves in order to achieve it.

Prayer

There are some people of whom I am a bit afraid.  When I try and understand why, I see a lack of confidence in my own opinions or a lack of assurance of my acceptance by you, God.  Help me to see how to make our relationship secure so that I do not fear others’ mastery over me.  Help me to fear no-one and to love people from a strong position of self-acceptance from which I can entertain change and a more counter-cultural acceptance of others.

Questions

  1. What should ‘you’ be?
  2. How does harmony permeate the passage?
  3. How might evil escalate in relationships?
  4. Which relationships that you have could be more harmonious?
  5. How could you sacrifice yourself (without compromising the truth) in order to bring more harmony?
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About Plymothian

I teach at Moody Bible Institute in Chicago. My interests include education, biblical studies, and spiritual formation. I have been married to Kelli since 1998 and we have two children, Daryl and Amelia. For recreation I like to run, play soccer, play board games, read and travel.
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5 Responses to 1 Peter 3:8-12 Repaying Evil with Blessing.

  1. Bronwyn says:

    After reading 1st Peter 3:8-12, some might think, “How can this be true?”
    Has God truly called His people to “inherit a blessing”? I just read that on September 22nd of this month 81 people were killed by suicide bombers; many of the deceased, if not all were Pakistani Christians. In this passage Psalm 34 is quoted, saying that God hears the prayers of the righteous and is against those who do evil, but why don’t we then see this more in reality? Some wicked people prosper and seem to get away “scot-free;” some believers suffer terribly, like our brothers and sisters in concentration camps in North Korea. Is God true to His word? Should I obey Him in seeking for peace, and turning away from evil, even if “good days” persist in escaping my experience?

    Yes. Jesus endured the cross. God had set before Him joy and He saw it in faith and obeyed and now that joy is His as He sees us, His kin, come to faith and persist in faith because of Him. God is both good and severe, but not mean in any way. On the contrary, He effuses grace and has generously chosen for His glory to be inextricably tied with our perfect good. God has blessed us and called us to more of what? Blessing! We’re not guaranteed physical abundance on this earth, but are rather warned against loving money. After all, we are just “aliens and strangers” here right? However, on an eternally joyful note, as children of God, we are absolutely guaranteed material prosperity above and the deepest greatest prosperity in Christ. Currently, we’re not denied any spiritual blessing (Ephesians 1:3), but we will know these blessings better once all remains of our “old man” are removed and all signs of death.

    God has called us to blessing and that is through suffering.now. “Fleshly” suffering, in which one struggles to deny oneself and forgive a friend counts! Through Christ’s suffering, God has blessed Him immensely!! God is fair and upright, He does reward the righteous and the wicked will be punished SOON. But let’s not forget where we came from, I wonder, how we can, but we do. We were once “wicked” and God was a stranger to us, our enemy, sin was our delight. Sometimes it still is…Yet our wickedness has been forever erased and God is our patient, most excellent friend and Master. Wow. The gospel!

  2. From the passage Christians need to be like minded, sympathetic, love one another, compassionate, and humble.
    For me, the thing i struggle with the most is showing compassion. Instead of showing compassion, I usually try to fix the situation. And I think being humble is underlining of all these characteristics. This humbleness is not woe is me, but it is a humbleness toward other peoples ideas or wants. With being truly humble, all the other things could easily fall into place. It’s not that I struggle with compassion, it’s the fact that I struggle with pride. Pride keeps me from showing sympathy and compassion to people. I could be thinking, without even realizing it, I am better then this person because I am doing good with the same situation that they might be struggling with. With pride, it can escalate evil in a relationship pretty quickly. It might not look like pride, but pride can come out in many different forms. Taking advantage of people and using them can be a form of pride seen through selfish ambition.
    I think in my life, my own wants and comfort really get in the way of causing harmony. Even though a person really wants me to do something, I would rather just relax instead and do something I want to do.

  3. Eric Wildermuth says:

    This portion of Scripture seems to be directed to the Christians to whom Peter is writing–specifically how we relate to one another. It is odd that Peter would have to say this to the Church who should have been doing this anyway–however, I think that there is also a profoundly outward facet to all of this; the way in which we are humble and compassionate toward our own and others will adorn the gospel in that it will reveal that we truly believe that which we confess to be truth.

    I know that I am certainly not always like-minded, compassionate, humble and loving toward others, especially when insulated within Moody’s culture (which can be overly Christian at times) It is hard for me to remain as Peter exhorts and to not repay perceived evil–even if not aimed toward me, with evil (gossip or judging-thoughts) toward them.

    I pray that God forgive me these and that He would continue to help me see others as made in His image and as bearers of it. From this, that I would treat them as such in my thoughts and speech.

  4. Christina Zezulak says:

    This passage reminds me of the importance of unity within the body of Christ. We should be loving each other as Christ has loved us, be sympathetic and compassionate towards one another, recognizing that we are flawed and embracing His strength in our weakness. This realization, that without His grace we are completely depraved, will help us bring blessing when evil is done to us. When humility is not being exercised, evil can easily be escalated in relationships. This is mainly due to the self-centered notion that “I” do not deserve this type of treatment, and “I” have every right to be angry and return wrong-doing in in this situation. When two people both have this mindset, there is no end to the repayment of evil.
    In my dealings with others, especially non-believers, I need to constantly remind myself how I was once like them before Christ. I need to recognize that I am no better than them, and that they need just as much grace and forgiveness as I do in each moment. At the same time, I need to be willing to stand up for the truth when it is being compromised, as long as it is done with humility. The goal is to strive for unity, and be willing to lay my preferences aside, yet never laying aside God’s truth.

  5. kevin w. says:

    We ought to be compassionate, likeminded, loving, forgiving, etc. These attributes are ones which promote harmony with others. The eye for an eye retaliation which escalates and continues the cycle is nipped in the bud by us…we absorb the abuse by not repaying in like fashion. Retaliation instead of forgiveness tends treated with more retaliation and bitterness.
    Adopting an attitude of true humility in recognition of how much we have been forgiven–this is key to true harmony and Christ-like relationships. Humility is recognition of who you truly are as God sees you and who we are in relation to Him. If we do not understand who we are and our relation to God then it will be hard to actually have harmony with others.

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