Finally, all of you, live in harmony with one another; be sympathetic, love as brothers, be compassionate and humble. 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. For,
“Whoever would love life and see good days must keep his tongue from evil and his lips from deceitful speech. Hue 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.” (1 Peter 3:8 – 12)
I find this ideal to be one of the hardest to reconcile in my life. I strive to be sympathetic, to love, to live in humility and yet, in an instant I will respond to a personal affront with and equal reaction. Why? As soon as the words or thoughts have left my mind, I’m dying to take them back all the while knowing the truth. Once issued, the words or thoughts can’t be squeezed back into the tube. I’m left to deal with the aftermath, the disappointment in myself and maybe the hurt of the other person. Is this what Jesus died for? So I could continue to react as I always did? Is this reaction just a lizard twitch, something reactive out of my amygdale or is it my stubborn refusal to release this part of my heart to the Spirit.
Peter gives me hope.
Failure after failure culminating in a thrice issued denial and still the Lord restored him. Peter’s words here are not meant to be instructions for us to modify our behavior on our own. They have the deeper meaning of allowing the Spirit to work in those dark recesses and to transform us from within so that our actions will be super-naturally loving, sympathetic, compassionate and humble. The reality of the cross looms near now, only nine steps away. The horror of the cross wasn’t meant to make us work harder to change ourselves as Peter soon learned. It was meant so that we could be transformed in ways that we could not even imagine.
Do you have hope?