“Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult. On the contrary, repay evil with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing.” 1 Peter 3:9 (NIV)
After our third baby was born, my husband James wanted to help me in my determination to lose the baby weight. Can you see the fight coming? He talked me into becoming his early morning exercise buddy. But I’m not a morning person … I hug my pillow until the last possible second.
About a month into this, James concluded my lagging meant I wasn’t interested anymore. Nothing was further from the truth. I knew I needed someone to kick me out of bed, or else I would never exercise.
We were at a birthday party when, to my shock, I overheard him ask a friend, “Do you want to work out with me in the morning?” He was ditching me — his wife — for a friend! I was so upset. I had an appointment after the party, so I drove off alone, angry at my husband for breaking our exercise commitment without even talking to me.
I wish I’d thought of today’s key verse in that moment, “Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult. On the contrary, repay evil with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing” (1 Peter 3:9).
This verse is similar to Matthew 5:44 which says, “But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you” (NIV).
Now if we’re to bless our enemies when insulted, how much more should we bless our family members and friends who love us? Yet it can be so easy to return fire with fire, rude comment for rude comment … especially with the people we see the most.
When we stop the cycle of insults by our silence or with a kind response, we are putting these verses into action. It’s natural to fight back with my words when I’m hurt or disappointed. It’s supernatural to bless and pray instead, letting God do the fighting for me.
Before confronting my workout buddy, I prayed in the car. “Lord, help me calm down. Help me see things from James’ perspective.” Maybe he was being nice to his friend because his friend was going through a hard time? My feelings of anger began to lessen, and when I got home, we talked about it right away.
James realized he made a mistake by asking his friend to replace me in the morning workout routine without consulting me. He thought I wasn’t interested in exercise anymore. His friend never accepted the offer, and I tried to be more awake in the morning.
Our key verse directly follows the instructions the Apostle Peter gives wives and husbands. If you’re married, you probably know it’s tempting to deliver the knock-out punch instead of extending a handshake of peace.
When I’m tempted to be mean instead of compassionate, I’m learning to try these steps:
Seek God. Pray before losing control. I find a sincere, quick prayer for wisdom does wonders. You may only have time to think, Help, God! Other times, you can pray longer about what’s bothering you.
See the other point of view. Play the scene from his perspective. Instead of focusing only on what your spouse did to offend you, be mindful of the ways you might have offended him.
Remind yourself that sometimes silence is the best response. Have you ever yelled at your husband or someone close to you in the heat of the moment, only to regret it later? It’s the ugly words spoken in anger that resurface years later in front of a marriage counselor. If you can’t say anything constructive, walk away until you can.
These steps don’t just apply to husbands and wives, but relationships with co-workers, parents and friends. What are the results of following God’s Word and not repaying evil with evil? The Bible says you inherit a blessing — both in this life and also the life to come. How wonderful to reserve blessings in heaven by acting humbly and kindly on earth. That’s even more exciting than resting after a morning workout!
Lord, I don’t want to repay evil for evil. I especially ask for Your grace to act kindly to my immediate family and closest friends. Help us be like-minded, sympathetic and loving toward one another today. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Truth for Today
1 Peter 3:10-12, “Whoever would love life and see good days must keep their tongue from evil and their lips from deceitful speech. They must turn from evil and do good; they must seek peace and pursue it. 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.” (NIV)
Proverbs 15:1, “A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.” (NIV)
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Reflect and Respond
When you feel hurt or insulted, how do you usually respond?
The next time you experience conflict with your spouse, friend or a family member, practice the steps in this devotion: Pray, think of the other person’s perspective and remain silent if you cannot think of anything fruitful to say.
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