First Epistle of Peter 3: 8-12 (NIV)
Suffering for Doing Good
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.”
“Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult …” If there is a profession that is notorious for repaying insult with insult, it would be World Championship Wrestling. But there are some who would allege that repaying insult with insult is not beyond the realm of politics either. The world seems slow to learn that repaying insult with insult can be hurtful, not only to the one insulted, but also to the one who insults.
The Apostle Peter’s command: “repay evil … or insult … with blessing” stands at odds with the ways of this world but for the Christian it is mandated to repay with blessing because “to this you were called”. “This” is a lifestyle, to “live in harmony with one another; be sympathetic, love as brothers (or sisters), be compassionate and humble” (3: 8).
“To this you were called …”: the Apostle has reinforced a command from an earlier chapter, “To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps” (2: 21). Again, “this” to which the Christian is called is a style of living: “if you suffer for doing good and you endure it, this is commendable before God” (2: 20). It appears that patient endurance is a part of the lot of the Christian.
Perhaps you ask, “Is it worth it?”
We must be encouraged by the Apostle’s earlier affirmation:
But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light (2: 9).
“To this you were called …”: called out of darkness to live in his wonderful light. Is it at odds with being called out of darkness that the Christian, in Christ’s wonderful light, then encounters more suffering, more evil, more insults?
The light of the world himself had to endure these:
When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly (2: 23).
The light of the world has called us to “live in harmony with one another; be sympathetic, love as brothers (or sisters), be compassionate and humble.” Rather than repay evil with evil or insult with insult, repay with blessing. To this you were called.
Help us, good Lord, to seek peace and pursue it.