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God is with you - Part 22

1 Peter 3v9-12

Do not repay evil with evil

18th August 2017

Peter teaches us:

1 Peter 3v9
Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult, but with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing.

How hard that can be! When someone says something completely unjust about you, it's so easy to say, "Well, what about you? I saw what you did last week!" But never do it. Never, ever repay evil for evil, or insult for insult. If your brother has uncovered your sin, do not uncover his sin. If your neighbour has stolen something from you, don't steal from him. If your brother has let you down, don't let him down. If your brother has betrayed you, don't betray him. If he's abandoned you, don't abandon him. Never repay evil for evil. Never repay insult for insult.

This requires the training of the Holy Spirit, because we've been taught to get our own back. The world teaches us terrible, terrible things like, "Revenge is a dish best served cold", or "Do unto others before they do unto you". These sayings come straight from hell.

We're told "Stick up for yourself". No! Don't stick up for yourself. The prophet Isaiah, writing over 700 years before Jesus was born, talked about his trial, when he was unjustly accused, and he wrote, "as a lamb before her shearers is silent, so he opened not his mouth" (Isaiah 53v7).

When you're hurt, when you're accused unfairly, when you're insulted, let God defend you. Don't get into a fight. So far as you can, stay in harmony with your accusers. It's hard, but either you want to be like Christ or you don't. And Christ didn't defend himself.

We should repay evil and insult with blessing.

Jesus said, "bless those that persecute you", "pray for your enemies", "Love your enemies". Whether those enemies are Christians or non-Christians, local or overseas, pray for them. Pray for ISIS. Pray for the North Korean government. Pray for the last Christian to hurt you. Pray for their blessing. Pray for them to be at peace.

Why? Because it's the right thing to do. And Peter gives us this incentive: "you will inherit a blessing" if you do.

If you want to want to justify yourself before your accusers, or before your brothers, or before your neighbours, then God will let you get on with it. But if you choose the way of peace all the time, God will bless you.

What doe God's blessing look like? Well:

Matthew 5v3-12
"Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.
Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.
Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God.
Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you."

It's so counter-intuitive, it seems crazy. But in the kingdom of God, the way up is down. God exults the humble but He casts down the proud. Stay humble. Stay meek. Seek peace, even with those who would give you a hard time. And you will inherit God's blessing. Not necessarily immediately. But sooner or later you will inherit the earth.

And then Peter quotes from Psalm 34:

1 Peter 3v10-12
For, "Whoever would love life and see good days must keep his tongue from evil and his lips from deceitful speech. He must turn from evil and do good; he 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."

We are Christians. We are living in God's blessing. So how does this apply to us? We know how it applies to everybody else. We know those without Christ are not righteous, because none of us were righteous before the blood of Christ cleansed us from our sins. And therefore we know the face of the Lord is against them until he reaches out in mercy and brings them into his kingdom. But how does it apply to us?

Well, those whom the Lord loves, He also disciplines. If you want to love life and see good days, avoiding the Lord's discipline is a good idea. And when we are disciplined by God, accepting the discipline, learning the lesson as quickly as possible, repenting as quickly as possible, and getting back into God's blessing is another good idea.

We'll always be loved by God, received by God, protected by God, saved by God. We're always safe in his arms. But He will chastise those whom he loves, which is us.

If you've lost your peace, if you've lost your joy, if you've lost your sense of well-being, then maybe - just maybe - God's saying something to you, and you can come back to him, and learn whatever lesson he's teaching you, and enjoy your life fully again.

When we're suffering because our neighbour, or our government, or even our brother in Christ, is giving us grief, this stuff is difficult, but it's possible. But when we're sinning against God by not ssek to live in harmony, not being compassionate and humble, it's not difficult - it's impossible.

May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with us all, helping us to love humbly all Christians and non-Christians that God brings into our lives.