1 Peter 3:9 “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.”
One bit of worldly wisdom comes to mind that completely opposes this scripture; “Fight fire with fire!” If someone goes after you, you must defend yourself and vigorously to discourage repeat attempts. ‘Street sense’ tells many that if you’re tough and don’t take anything from anybody, nobody will bother you. Certainly if you have been bullied as a child, there is a lot of satisfaction in defending yourself and showing people that you’re not a person that they can push around. The only trouble is that when you fight ‘fire with fire’ you tend to get an even bigger fire. You never get real peace for yourself. You live in a continual state of readiness for war and all the stress that comes from being aggressive. Living your entire life being ready to fight fire with fire is a kind of dress rehearsal for hell.
In this scripture, the Forerunner Bible commentary points out; “Peter is talking about turning the other cheek. Satan is always trying to move, motivate, guide, lead us toward self-satisfaction in every circumstance. If we are in a position or situation in which we are trying to defeat another, it is probable that he has a hold of us.” Getting back at others, teaching someone not to ‘mess with you’ and being an all around tough guy is based on self-centeredness and fear. At least it is for me.
Barnes Notes says; “The hope of eternal life should make your minds calm; and the prospect that you are to be so exalted in heaven should fill your hearts with benignity and love.” Sadly, in the face of insults and aggressive evil from others I fall short of calm, benignity and love – far, far short! If you’re like me, you will have to lean on your faith harder than ever in situations like these. What you can’t do by yourself, He will give you the strength to do; “I can do all things through Christ who strengtheneth me.” (Phil 4:13). Jesus said; “But I say unto you, love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them that despitefully use you and persecute you, … ” (Matthew 5:44)
When it comes to praying for those who persecute me, I have no faith in my own strength. I know that in His strength I can do all things including blessing those that curse me. I can’t do this perfectly but I can practice. The world will give me lots of opportunities to practice; “The discretion of a man deferreth his anger, and it is his glory to pass over a transgression.” (Proverb 19:11) What Jesus calls us to do isn’t impossible to practice. Imagine how the world would change if even half of us were successful at it half of the time. When we fall short, we truly repent and return to His way. Striving always for spritual progress, leaving perfection to those who would claim it.
If we strive to walk as Jesus would have us walk the blessings will be evident; ” . . . the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. And those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its affections and lusts. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.”