How Should We All Treat Everyone?
1 Peter, Day 15
Finally, all of you, have unity of mind, sympathy, brotherly love, a tender heart, and a humble mind. Do not repay evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary, bless, for to this you were called, that you may obtain a blessing. For
“Whoever desires to love life
and see good days,
let him keep his tongue from evil
and his lips from speaking deceit;
let him turn away from evil and do good;
let him seek peace and pursue it.
For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous,
and his ears are open to their prayer.
But the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.”
- 1 Peter 3:8-12, ESV
I was an expert on good parenting . . . until I became a parent myself. It was easy for me to listen to and understand sound biblical parenting advice, until I had my own children. Then it wasn't so easy. It's always easy to listen to good advice for other people, isn't it?
When we go through a teaching directed towards husbands and wives, a very common thing happens: The husbands listen very closely to the advice on how their wives should treat them. And then the wives listen very closely to the advice on how their husbands should treat them. And so, both husbands and wives walk away fully aware of the respect and love they should be receiving from their spouses.
This is nothing new. It's human nature, and I think the transition Peter makes in verse 8 of chapter 3 shows us very clearly that he understood this aspect of human nature very well. After he gives his sound advice for wives and then for husbands, he says, "Finally, all of you, have unity of mind, sympathy, brotherly love, a tender heart, and a humble mind." In other words, here's something you can't just listen to as good advice for someone else. Here's something all of us - husbands, wives, single people, adults, children, teens - need to hear and do.
All of us are to treat everyone with love and respect. We are to be sympathetic, loving, tender-hearted and humble toward others. Okay, but what if we're being mistreated by someone else? What if someone is just being mean to us, does that give us grounds for being mean back to them? No. Peter says, "Do not repay evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary, bless, for to this you were called, that you may obtain a blessing."
So, we even have to be kind and loving and humble toward mean people, people who revile us and curse us. Yes. Why? Because we are children of God, and the way we treat others should be shaped by how God has treated us and how we wish God to treat us, not by how others have treated us. We were called by God to obtain a blessing, and we don't obtain the blessing of God by being spiteful and vengeful, but by seeking peace and pursuing it.
Peter quotes from Psalm 34 to support his point. The children of God are those who have been called by God and blessed by God. As God calls us and blesses us, He also calls us to bless others. He calls us to imitate Him, and He blessed us and loved us when we were still His enemies.
We actually find great freedom in being called to imitate God in blessing others. No longer do we live captive to our expectations of how others should treat us or bitter at those who mistreat us. Rather, we're constantly reminded of how good God has been to us, and we're freed and empowered to show the same goodness to others. And that is a blessed life!