1 Peter #10 1 Peter #10 1 Peter 3:8-12 Retaliate: Overcoming the Temptation to Strangle Some Idiot that Desperately Deserves It.
1 Peter #10 1 Peter 3:8-12 Retaliate: Overcoming the Temptation to Strangle Some Idiot that Desperately Deserves It.
To silence the critics, those who disparage the Christian faith, believers are to live exemplary lives in the public and private sectors of life, out in the world and the home. Peter has given instructions to slaves, wives, to husbands on how to treat others. It has to do with submission to Jesus, set aside your wants until your wants are what Jesus wants. Jesus desires for you to love, to love God, to love others, there is no greater commandment.
Peter is going to reveal to us how we can express love during our difficult situations. Peter has explored how to live an exemplary life in public and private. Now he draws our attention to life within the Church. The advice shared also works when you are having to deal with someone outside of the Church. Let’s figure out what to do instead of giving in to that overwhelming temptation to strangle some idiot who desperately deserves it.
It’s shaping up to be a bad day. There is stress, frustration, disappointment, or even sadness. Life is not going your way. Prayers are not being answered according to your timeline. Maybe there’s a conflict with a loved one. A terrible diagnosis from the doctor explains why you’re hurting and are having a hard time physically. Maybe your kid is acting out causing you problems at home and they’re 30 years old. It could be a professional problem at work, a co-worker or boss that is driving you crazy, the deadlines, or the workload. You’re late, you’re late. Maybe you’re dealing with employees that are more of a detriment than an asset. Then there’s the paperwork and hoping through the bureaucratic hoops, the system makes it so hard to get stuff done. Possibly media generated fear is gnawing away at your security. A late payment. Pressure, pressure, pressure. The promotion, the business deal, the breakthrough doesn’t happen. Then that idiot cuts you off on the freeway. There’s a Karen in a neighborhood and she’s going off on you. The kids don’t get their chores done; worse your spouse doesn’t get their chores done. The honey-do list just keeps getting longer. On the other end of the phone is another unsolicited sales call. The knock on your door is another unsolicited service call worse, Girl Scout cookies. Your spouse is grumpy, your friend is grumpy, your dog is grumpy and you’re grumpy. You’re experiencing “a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day.” You feel like exploding. You see the straw that breaks the camel’s back falling and the weather person says it’s going to rain tomorrow, and you had a picnic planned. What do you do? I want to give them the small remaining piece of my mind. The movie Castaway starts looking like a wonderful vacation minus the toothache. More times than not, I want to retaliate.
Peter instructs us that in the public sector, in the private sector, in persecution, in hard times, or a bad moment, and this advice carries right on over to the Church: there is no retaliation for the person who follows Jesus.
1 Peter 3:8-12 (MSG)
Summing up: Be agreeable, be sympathetic, be loving, be compassionate, be humble. That goes for all of you, no exceptions. No retaliation. No sharp-tongued sarcasm. Instead, bless—that's your job, to bless. You'll be a blessing and also get a blessing.
10 Whoever wants to embrace life and see the day fill up with good, Here’s what you do: Say nothing evil or hurtful; Snub evil and cultivate good; run after peace for all you're worth. God looks on all this with approval, listening and responding well to what he's asked; But he turns his back on those who do evil things.
No retaliation, no retribution, no revenge, instead love. If this is the way Christians are to behave, we may have missed the mark. Throughout the New Testament, there is a call to maintain unity. Jesus prayed that all His disciples would be of one heart and one mind, as He and the One He called Father are one (John 17:21-23). We read of this unity lived out in Acts 4:32: “The whole congregation of believers was united as one—one heart, one mind!” But people get out of step with the Spirit (Galatians 5:16). The Apostle Paul tells the congregation in Rome to be of one mind (Romans12:4, 12:16). To the Corinthian congregation Paul told them they are one body, and that they must live in peace. In his letter to the Philippians Paul urges quarreling members to settle their differences (Philippians 4:2). Unity is essential for the Church to be Christian. Yet we have congregations that are full of backbiters, gossip, and abusive leadership. Infighting and politicking and power grabs in Jesus’ church are sure signs that it’s Jesus’ church in name only. A family divided against itself will destroy itself (Matthew 12:25). Disagreements turn into factions and congregations split. Denominations are the result of theological or doctrinal arguments. My way, my interpretation, my desires, and my wants are more important than maintaining the unity of the Church. How we like to climb on that high horse of self-righteousness and give our Godly reasons as to why we need to maintain the purity of the Church, therefore someone must go. What does disunity have in common with “Present yourselves as building stones for the construction of a sanctuary vibrant with life, in which you'll serve as holy priests offering Christ-approved lives up to God” (1 Peter 2:5 (MSG)? Sin is the reason for disharmony in the family of God. This should not be, but like slavery in the time that Peter wrote, it is just the way it is. It breaks Jesus' heart.
Being of one mind, one heart, and one Spirit, does not mean that we all think alike. Christianity is not a conformity cult. Jesus sets you free to be the person God created you to be. We all have different life experiences that cause us to see things differently. We all have different ways of cultivating our spiritual lives. Different opinions, different interpretations of scripture, different doctrine, different methodologies, and different culture do not create disunity within the body. Egoism causes disunity. Egoism with its stubborn pride demands that it’s my way of no way. Egoism convinces you that God has shown you the truth and therefore your way is the only right way. When things are not the way we want them, we retaliate. Christians sabotage, stop using their gifts, stop supporting financially, and move on to greener “Pastors.” Being of one mind, one heart, and one Spirit means we are united in our loyalty to our Lord. He comes first, His will, His way, that’s more important than me getting my way. Being of one mind, one heart, and one Spirit means we are united in our loyalty to one another.
In the family of God, there will be people that you inherently like and others that you dislike. There are personality clashes and there are strong opinions that are incompatible. In the family, some are perpetually immature. There are the EGRs, extra grace required, who can drive you nuts with their idiosyncrasies. Notice the end of that word idiosyncrasies, it’s crazies, there will be brothers and sisters in Christ that drive you crazy. One of my crazy makers is “The Lord told me to tell you.” Unfortunately, there will be family that hurts you, family that lets you down, and family that sins against you. You want them out of your life, you want to retaliate.
When you stub your toe hard, so hard your mouth squeezes out an expletive, have you ever thought “I’m just going to cut it off?” Most likely not, it’s part of your body, it’s a hurting part of your body, but you’re not going to cut it off, you’re going to baby it. The reason you baby it is that it's part of you. Consider what the Apostle Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 12:27 (NIV): “Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.” Are you going to cut off the part that hurts you?
It is Christian to keep the unity of the body through forgiveness and love while protecting yourself from further harm. “Blessed are the peacemakers; they shall be called the children of God” (Matthew 5:9). In the gospel according to Matthew Jesus instructs us on how to handle the faults of a brother or sister (Matthew 18:15-17). If there is no resolution, then the matter is brought before the entire congregation and a course of action is decided upon. Protecting yourself from further harm may mean that it is necessary to break fellowship with someone. This should never happen between committed followers of Jesus. But again, egoism gets people out of step with the Spirit. If you have to break fellowship, you can do so while still maintaining loyalty to the Lord by refusing to retaliate. The scripture reads in Romans 12: “Don't hit back; discover beauty in everyone. If you've got it in you, get along with everybody. Don't insist on getting even; that's not for you to do. "I'll do the judging," says God. "I'll take care of it" (Romans 12:17-19 (MSG). This is not as fine a line as it appears. You’ve been hurt, maybe the reputation of the congregation has been put into question and the other party refuses to reconcile. You can break fellowship but what you are not to do is seek revenge, or call down some sort of punishment. Let go, and give the entire situation to God.
In the public sector and the private sector, you steer clear of retaliation when you follow Peter’s instruction: “Be agreeable, be sympathetic, be loving, be compassionate, be humble.”
Being agreeable means living in harmony. Tap the keys of a piano in the right order and the different tones can make a beautiful sound. Disciples of Jesus do their best to blend their differences in with their brothers and sisters to make something beautiful called community. Choose to be agreeable.
Being sympathetic means working at understanding the other person. The adage “Don’t judge someone until you’ve walked a mile in their shoes” reminds us “not to judge the book by its cover, which reminds us that “there are two sides to every story,” and that we should be slow to speak and quick to listen (James 1:9). There are reasons people are so abnormal. When you hear their story, it helps you to love on them. Choose to be sympathetic.
We know what being loving is all about. Love is seeking to meet the need of another. It’s holding their best interests as your own (Philippians 2:4). It’s giving them respect, it’s not giving up on them, it’s entrusting their well-being to God and then doing what God asks you in helping them to be well. Choose to be loving.
Being compassionate always leads to action. When a person is suffering, or being oppressed, abused, or taken advantage of, compassion calls us to come alongside and support them, doing our best to alleviate their problem. Choose to be compassionate.
Being humble is the realization of knowing that if it wasn’t for God’s grace in your life that prompted you to make the decision you have in life, you’d be in worse shape than where you determine someone else to be. “There but for the grace of God, go I” (most likely John Bradford 1555). Humility allows you to treat others as you would want to be treated. Choose to be humble.
When you choose to exercise the empowerment given to you by the Holy Spirit to be “agreeable, sympathetic, loving, compassionate, and humble” you do not retaliate. No retaliation, not even a sarcastic comment. That’s hard to do for a Christian like me who uses sarcasm to express their anger. Too often I have given some idiot the power to call my practice of Christianity into question. Instead of calling down curses upon all those involved in my “terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day,” my job is to bless and be a blessing to the idiot, I mean my fellow human being, who just may also happen to be a brother or sister in Christ. I get angry all too easily, it just brings out the worst in me, and reminds me how much more I need to mature in faith, how much more I need to grow deep, grow up, and grow fruit. If I am going to live my life to the full I must surrender my anger to the Holy Spirit. There was a time in my life when I didn’t even know why I was angry, but when you deal with the issue, the Holy Spirit will guide you to the source and once in the light be dealt with. When you choose to exercise the empowerment given to you by the Holy Spirit to be “agreeable, sympathetic, loving, compassionate, and humble” you can bless those who like yourself, do not deserve a blessing.
Blessing others is our job. Even when evil is done to you, instead of curses and retaliation, you bless. That’s an eye-opener for someone who is mistreating you. Most angry people expect to be treated angrily. “A gentle response defuses anger, but a sharp tongue kindles a temper-fire” (Proverbs 15:1 (MSG). When you bless others there’s a kickback. The big kickback is the feeling that you did well. Even if you didn’t want to bless, and you were internally kicking and screaming as you did, you blessed. Shortly after you feel the satisfaction of doing what God wanted. You did well, you did right, you accomplished the righteous thing, and you did your job. To sense God’s approval is a blessing. Blessing others when you are mistreated is to live an exemplary life, a holy life.
Peter summarizes what he has instructed by quoting Psalm 34:12-16. “Whoever wants to embrace life and see the day fill up with good, Here’s what you do: Say nothing evil or hurtful; Snub evil and cultivate good; run after peace for all you're worth. God looks on all this with approval, listening and responding well to what he's asked; But he turns his back on those who do evil things.” You are empowered to live a life of no retaliation, choose to do so, choose to live the Yes.