Finally, all of you be of one mind, having compassion for one another; love as brothers, be tenderhearted, be courteous; not returning evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary blessing, knowing that you were called to this, that you may inherit a blessing (1 Peter 3:8-9).
As we look at these verses from 1 Peter, let’s jump to the end and go backwards. What is it we were “called to”? We are called to look out for each other. We are “summoned” to behave a certain way toward one another. We are Christians, and this calling bestows many wonderful things on us (we will inherit a blessing) and requires many difficult things of us.
In these verses above we have positive commands and negative commands. The positive commands are all about how to treat one another: be of one mind, have compassion, love each other, be tender toward one another, watch your manners. These sound wonderful, but are not always easy to do. We don’t always feel like it, and the “others” don’t always deserve it (from our perspective). But we were called to this, and if we follow through, there will be an inheritance waiting for us.
Then we have the negative commands. Don’t go returning evil for evil. Neither reviling for reviling. So….what if someone is being extremely pillish? Downright pigheaded? The words used here (evil and reviling) are very strong words. They are not the kind of words used to describe someone giving you the cold shoulder. This is more like someone cussing you out or throwing rocks at your car. Don’t retaliate. If someone is cussing you out, don’t go cussing back at them. It’s much better to smile and tell them to have a nice day. This is a tall order, but this is what we are called to.
Now most of the time, we are not receiving this kind of evil and reviling in the course of the day. On the other hand, I have talked with women who get this kind of treatment from their husbands quite often (not the rock throwing, but the cussing out). God has written this for all of us. He wants wives to win their husbands a certain way, and it’s not by dishing back.
Little troubles can be a snare. We might think we could handle the big ones fine, but we certainly won’t unless we are practicing with all the little annoyance. For example, snapping at our kids when they are whining at us is a form of returning evil for evil. Rather, we are to return a blessing. Give the little one a smile and a hug and gentle instruction. How else will they learn this unless they learn it from you?
When we return one unkindness for another, we stir up our souls and make more trouble. When we return a kindness instead, it keeps our hearts steady and our souls have peace.
Jesus said: “Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.”
He has set the pattern for us to follow. He bears with us and our own stubborn hearts, so He is the expert. We have taken His yoke and by following Him in this we will find real rest.