Called to Bless (1Peter 3:8-12)
8 Finally, all of you should be of one mind. Sympathize with each other. Love each other as brothers and sisters. Be tenderhearted, and keep a humble attitude. 9 Don’t repay evil for evil. Don’t retaliate with insults when people insult you. Instead, pay them back with a blessing. That is what God has called you to do, and He will grant you His blessing. 10 For the Scriptures say,
“If you want to enjoy lifeand see many happy days,keep your tongue from speaking eviland your lips from telling lies.11 Turn away from evil and do good.Search for peace, and work to maintain it.12 The eyes of the Lord watch over those who do right,and his ears are open to their prayers.But the Lord turns his face against those who do evil.”
Greetings in the powerful name of Jesus!
Oh, how we need Jesus! Especially in the area relationships! When I read today’s passage, I am reminded of the many relationships that have been strained or ended over the years. "If I was just more… ; if only I hadn’t said… ." Christian love is deeper than worldly love, because it is God’s love in us that enables us to love heavenly family members, once strangers, as brothers and sisters. It should be easier to love because God’s love has been poured into our hearts, but actually because the love is the deepest kind, agape love, it is much harder. We are not yet as we should be; we are still works in progress. Maybe that is why there are so many exhortations in scripture on how to have godly relationships…because loving like Jesus did is hard; we are not quite like Him yet. That is why we need grace for each other. Here is a snippet of the many such passages in the New Testament, by Jesus (Matt. 5:38-48), and Paul (Romans 12; Eph. 4) and John (1John 4).
According to today’s passage, it starts in the mind – and we are to be united in our mind, since we all possess the mind of Christ (1Cor. 2:16). In Philippians 2, Paul equates the same mind to an attitude of humility and laying our lives down for each other – we live to serve others, not ourselves…as Jesus did (Phil 2:1-18). We are one in Christ, members of the same body, with Christ as the head. So, we “sympathize with each other”, literally share the same feelings. When one hurts, we all hurt, and when one rejoices, we all rejoice (1Cor. 12:26; Rom. 12:15). Why because we love each other as family members. One word “philadelphos” in the Greek translates “love each other as brother and sister”. We are family! We should get along, slow to get angry, quick to forgive, maintaining the family of God. Divisions happen when we focus on people not Jesus (1Cor. 1), most often when we focus on self! “Tenderhearted” speaks of having a “gut level” compassion for others, while humility speaks of thinking of others more highly than you think of yourself (Rom. 12:3). Peter will say a little further in his letter, “clothe yourself with humility towards one another…. because God gives grace to the humble” (1Pet. 5:5). So, there is a blessing for humility!
All of this “attitude of Christ” in us, comes out in our tongue. Instead of returning insults, we bless! Our renewed character manifests in the way we use our tongue. I don’t know about you, but I have been really convicted by this as of late. I have been listening to several different talk shows related to the current events we see in our world. I have realized that a lot of these are just forums for people to criticize and complain, filled with negativity and slander. What you put in comes out! My attitude has been tainted by these individuals, no matter how much truth they speak. Through conversations with certain individuals, I have realized that I need to bless with my words, and not tear down or criticize. It is easy to find fault in others, but true love keeps no record of wrongs, always forgives, and thinks more highly of others. Today’s passage says that God has called us to bless, not criticize or insult. If we bless, God will bless us (vs. 9). One Greek word eulogeo is translated “pay them back with a blessing”. This word means “speak well of, praise”. It is from this word we get the word eulogy, which is saying a bunch of good things about an individual at their funeral. I know I have said this before, but why do we wait to say nice things about someone after they are dead? The practice of a true follower of Jesus, who has His mind, is to speak well of our brothers and sisters in Christ, and even of our enemies, and people who are hard to like/love. When we do this, there is a blessing for us! To describe the blessing, Peter quotes Psalm 34:12-16. The person who puts a guard over his/her words, is the one who experiences life and happiness, “length of days that he may see good” (NASB). We are commanded to seek peace and pursue it (Rom. 14:19; Heb. 12:14). The Lord sees and hears everything!
Although learning to love like Jesus is a continual transformation exercise, I know that God rewards those who diligently seek Him and to be like Him. God will meet us as we “repent” – change our mind, listen to Him, and do the work of changing the way we use our tongue. I praise God for His word, and for fellow brothers and sisters who speak truth to me. I am choosing to bless with my words, since I have been called to this, and want to live in the blessing of God!
(Want further insights…Meditate on James 3)
“With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse human beings, who have been made in God’s likeness.
Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this should not be.”
Have a Blessed week speaking life!