Friday, October 19, 2012

1 Peter 3:8-12

Finally be ye all of one mind, having compassion one of another, love as brethren, be pitiful, be courteous: Not rendering evil for evil, or railing for railing: but contrariwise blessing; knowing that ye are thereunto called, that ye should inherit a blessing. For he that will love life, and see good days, let him refrain his tongue from evil, and his lips that they speak no guile: Let him eschew evil, and do good; let him seek peace, and ensue it. For the eyes of the Lord are over the righteous, and his ears are open unto their prayers: but the face of the Lord is against them that do evil.

How can we fulfill Matthew 5:44 “love your enemies, bless them, pray for them”? It is one of the hardest commands of Scripture. Instinctively, when we are attacked, we attack back. When we are mocked, we react in anger. When we are frustrated or bullied, we respond in hatred. But Jesus commands us in His Sermon on the Mount that we should love those who make us angry. How? It is literally almost impossible. We just don’t want to. When we get to 1 Peter 3:9, Peter berates us with the same message, “render blessing to those who are evil to you.”
Why? What is it in Christian theology that can demand such a difficult thing from us? When somebody talks bad about me, I don’t desire to bless him. When somebody intentionally strives to make me look like a fool, I don’t love him. So, why is there this command? How could God make such a nearly impossible demand on us? Because He forced the exact same “impossible demand” on Himself. You see, when Christ calls us to “love our enemies,” that is exactly what John 3:16 says God did, “God loved the world.” How did God exhibit that love towards His enemies? In reconciliation. In forgiveness through the death of Jesus for sins. God instead of extending judgment to us, has offered love and forgiveness.
So how can we react with love and forgiveness towards those that despitefully use us and persecute us? We can do so, because God has set the perfect example. With forgiveness, He has turned His eternal enemies into His eternal friends. Now, we in like fashion, can see the gracious example of a merciful God who was wronged and reviled by our lifestyle, our words, our actions, our evil hearts, our fleshly desires and our wicked minds; and we can be motivated to forgive with the same forgiveness with which we have been forgiven. The forgiven should know best about forgiveness. That’s us. Now, let’s do the hard thing, forgive.
Food For Thought: How can we forgive those that do us wrong? What is our great example of this kind of forgiveness?