Saturday morning I awoke with the thoughts that I need a clean heart; that I must forgive even those that I might think are unforgivable. Because I, too, am unforgivable and yet my Lord choose to die a heinous death on the cross to pay the ransom for my sin. He had mercy and grace on me, when I am unforgivable.
“Finally, all of you be of one mind, having compassion for one another; love as brothers, be tenderhearted, be courteous; not returning evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary blessing, knowing that you were called to this, that you may inherit a blessing.” (1 Pet 3:8-9)
The first verse in the passage above is translated in the NLT as, “Finally, all of you should be of one mind. Sympathize with each other. Love each other as brothers and sisters. Be tenderhearted, and keep a humble attitude.” The way we can truly sympathize with others is to know that we are not any better; sin is sin. “But God showed His great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners.” (Rom 5:8)
Peter set out to console Christians in their sufferings and to call believers to godly, submissive living – and after his long treaties on our call to be holy; the need to submit to authority; the different role of family members and a section on Christ’s example of patient endurance in suffering, Peter finally begins to sum up his epistle with a series of short, simple statements on living a submissive Christian life.
He calls us to be of one mind – to have unity of spirit in the bond of peace… to hold fast together our faith in Christ Jesus and the gospel of grace, and to live in harmony one with the other. He calls us to sympathize with each other – to have compassion one for another and to empathize in the trials and difficultness that our brothers and sisters in Christ are going through, to be there to help and to comfort, to support and encourage.
At a time when the love of many is growing ever colder and darker, we are called upon to love our Christian brothers and sisters in Christ – to care and to pray for them to love one another in the same way that Christ loved us. And he also calls us to be tender-hearted and to have a humble attitude.
In a selfish world that is becoming increasingly hostile towards the things of God, our Lord Jesus Christ expects from each one of us to show compassion to those who are lost and hurting, to render Christian courtesy and compassion on all with whom we come in contact – to be tender-hearted and to be full of grace and truth – for Christ’s sake.
And he goes further: “Don’t repay evil for evil. Don’t retaliate with insults when people insult you. Instead, pay them back with a blessing. That is what God has called you to do, and he will grant you his blessing”.
It is not only our Christian brethren that should be so treated but we are called to love our enemies – for there are three options in living the Christian life. We could follow the satanic path where both good and evil is repaid with evil. Or we could live our lives on a moral human level where we respond to good with good but recompense evil with evil.
However, the divine standard is rooted in the love of Christ and the example that He left us – where evil is repaid with good and where blessings are the response to an insult – for that is what God has called us to do, and He will bless us for it. We are called to be holy for He is holy, but His unattainable benchmark can only be attained as we live as Christ lived, in spirit and truth – and in submission to the Holy Spirit.
Let us love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us (Matt 5:44). It is truly impossible to have hate in our hearts for someone we are sincerely lifting up in prayer to the Lord. Let us bless them and not curse them (Rom 12:14). Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you for Jesus sake for in so doing we are participators in Christ’s sufferings (Matt 5:11) – and this is what God has called us to do, and He will bless us for it.
Dear Lord, how I desire to apply this gentle spirit of compassion, humility and love into my life so that I may be an example of a godly believer and give glory to Your holy name, but I need Your strength and power to do this. I want to walk in spirit and truth. Help me I pray to do all that You have called me to do in the power of the Holy Spirit for You have promised that Your grace is sufficient and all I need in life. In the precious name of Jesus name I pray, amen.