Finally, be all of one mind, be loving toward one another, be gracious, and be kind. Do not repay evil for evil, or curse for curse, but on the contrary, bless, knowing that to this you are called, so that you may receive a blessing.1 Peter 3:8–9 — Modern English Version (Thinline Edition.; Lake Mary, FL: Passio, 2014)
Peter’s constant theme is our conduct as Christians. First from a perspective of identity, ours and His. Then he turns toward a call to holy living. He provides practical exhortation to do that.
Peter’s instruction includes how to act toward unbelievers, civic leaders, our bosses, our spouses, and each other. It is this point in how we treat each other that he now calls to our attention.
Be All of One Mind
That’s not the kind of unity one would think it is. It isn’t the sort that ignores doctrinal or ecclesiological (how we do church) differences. It’s to be of the same mind in how we treat brothers and sisters in Jesus. We are to love each other with grace and kindness.
A Practical Example
Some of us may prefer to sit in a certain particular seat, row, or end of a row at church. I know it seems petty and small, but this serves well.
Suppose some usher escorted you (and your party) to a seat in church that was unsuitable to you, for whatever reason. Do you take it, or ask to sit elsewhere?
Of course, we can always ask for something different. I want to know… Why not choose the suffering?
Why not choose to bless the one escorting you by being compliant with his direction?
This is precisely what Peter is saying. Grace and kindness, when extended to someone require a bit of suffering.
First, we don’t get what we want another does.
Second, the person who is receiving the grace and kindness may not like it and give a rebuff, and even become downright nasty. ( Christians aren’t above that sort of thing, sadly. That’s why Peter’s point is needed today.)
Third, the person who receives it may be indifferent toward it.
Even when our kindness is returned with a curse or indifference, it is tempting to reflect such things back toward the other. That’s wrong. We are not to repay evil for evil.
Here is how Paul offers it.
Bless those who persecute you; bless, and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep. Be of the same mind toward one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Do not pretend to be wiser than you are.Romans 12:14–17 — Modern English Version (Thinline Edition.; Lake Mary, FL: Passio, 2014)
Repay no one evil for evil. Commend what is honest in the sight of all men.
It’s the same idea. It’s note new. Paul also iterates the same sentimentality of likemindedness.
Choosing to Suffer is Choosing Holiness
This may seem like an idea that is easily rejected. I mean, God always gets what He wants… Right?
Look to Jesus. He is God. Did He not choose to set aside what it is to be God to take on humanity?
He didn’t just animate a body. He is human, with all of our frailties. He knew to become human was to submit to death. He chose to suffer. He is our example of holiness.
Hear His words on the matter. See if they sound familiar.
But I say to you who hear, love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, and pray for those who spitefully use you. To him who strikes you on the one cheek, offer also the other. And from him who takes away your cloak, do not withhold your tunic as well. Give to everyone who asks of you. And of him who takes away your goods, do not ask for them back. Do unto others as you would have others do unto you.Luke 6:27–31 — Modern English Version (Thinline Edition.; Lake Mary, FL: Passio, 2014)
I think His words are plain enough.
Yet we Christians can be rather pushy. We want our own way. We want the best spots. We want to be first. We want to win.
Peter, Paul and Jesus are teaching us to want holiness. I know it doesn’t go with American pride and all that.
Personally, I think that watching how a person comports themselves with others will show you exactly how far along with the pursuit to holiness they’ve gotten. Some never leave the starting block. The vast majority are still stuck in the elementary principles. Still, others seem to have almost mastered it mostly. (Though I think if you ask them, they would not even own up to being anywhere near holiness.)
This whole idea of esteeming others above our own selves, placing the needs of others before our own, and even satisfying the needs of others before seeking to do so for ourselves is holy.
Jesus told us to love God and to love others. He used words that echo the superlative nature that is necessary for that love. He also said it is how the entire law is summed up.
The kind of love we ought to have for each other is necessarily sacrificial. That is what love is.
There are no real safe spaces for a Christian. Well, save for Jesus. That’s how I read the Bible.
If something offends you. That’s not holiness at all.
Self-love isn’t holiness, either.
If you’re easily offended, I have to be frank. You’re probably not too very much holy. And if that is the case, the safe space in Jesus isn’t going to be so safe. He wants you and me to be like He is.
It is said, be holy for He is holy.
But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, hoping for nothing in return. Then your reward will be great, and you will be the sons of the Highest. For He is kind to the unthankful and the evil. Be therefore merciful, even as your Father is merciful.Luke 6:35–36 — Modern English Version (Thinline Edition.; Lake Mary, FL: Passio, 2014)
Choose to suffer. Just like Jesus did.
There’s a real and lasting blessing there.