Encouragement During Persecution
1 Peter 3:9-12 (MSG Version)
“Suffering for Doing Good
8-12 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.
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.”
This verse comes from First Peter, a book in the Bible that was intended to encourage followers of Jesus who were persecuted for their faith, and I find myself attempting to apply this in every area of life. We’re told that we’re to be loving and compassionate, even in the face of evil. The section that stands out to me is the part about no retaliation. How many times have we been faced with a sarcastic co-worker? A tough boss? An argumentative family member? And yet, Jesus’s model for us is to bless, not retaliate. Why? Because when we let God take care of the justice portion of our lives, we’ll find that everything will always be handled in the best possible way. Retaliating and sharped-tongued sarcasm will only increase our stress and anger. It will prolong the situation. But if we sit back and watch the work of the Lord, that co-worker will move away. That boss will be transferred. That family member will have a change of heart.
My mother gave me a piece of advice from a young age that really helped me learn how to stay strong in the face of evil. As Christ followers, we are filled with the holy spirit. If you pay close attention, we can even sense the holy spirit in others. But this also means that the evil one in certain people can sense the holy spirit in us, and will automatically lash out or retaliate. They just simply won’t like us. Stay calm, bless them, pray for them, and let God take care of everything, as He’s the only one who has the ability to take care of these evil forces. Remember what Peter said, “God looks on all this with approval.”
In my mind, one thing that helps me understand the Bible is by thinking of God as either a parental figure, or as the teacher of a classroom (I’m a former teacher, so this particular application helps me a lot). Imagine you’re a teacher, and you have a student talking all throughout class. He’s upset because the student next to him is using the pencil that he wanted to use. He’s so fixated on this issue that he can’t focus on the lesson. You ask the student to refrain from talking and to focus on the lesson several times. Why? So that he can pay attention to the math lesson. As the teacher, you know they’re going to have a state test where half the questions are going to come from this particular lesson. If he fails the test, he can’t progress to the next grade. The student continues talking. A few weeks later, the student performs poorly on the test. Now he cannot progress to the next grade. If he would have listened to your request to focus, and ignored the student next to him with the pencil, he would have succeeded.
The same goes for God when we consider today’s Bible verse. God knows what’s to come of our enemies. He knows the next steps in our lives. He’s requesting for us to focus primarily on Him (an easy task), and He will take care of everything else! Hearing this today should take the weight of the world off of your shoulders! Hallelujah! So let’s listen to our Father and teacher, and let’s stay calm and collected in the face of evil. As Chris Tomlin says in his song, “The God of angel armies, is always by my side.” Check out this great song to enforce today’s message, and have a blessed week!
Written by Andrea Hintz