In his Sermon on the Mount, Jesus gave his followers a famously difficult command: “You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’ But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also.” Today’s reading from 1 Peter 3 explores this seemingly counter-intuitive command—and explains why it lies at the heart of a godly life.
1 Peter 3:8-18 (GNT)
To conclude: you must all have the same attitude and the same feelings; love one another, and be kind and humble with one another. Do not pay back evil with evil or cursing with cursing; instead, pay back with a blessing, because a blessing is what God promised to give you when he called you. As the scripture says,
If you want to enjoy life
and wish to see good times,
you must keep from speaking evil
and stop telling lies.
You must turn away from evil and do good;
you must strive for peace with all your heart.
For the Lord watches over the righteous
and listens to their prayers;
but he opposes those who do evil.
Who will harm you if you are eager to do what is good? But even if you should suffer for doing what is right, how happy you are! Do not be afraid of anyone, and do not worry. But have reverence for Christ in your hearts, and honor him as Lord. Be ready at all times to answer anyone who asks you to explain the hope you have in you, but do it with gentleness and respect. Keep your conscience clear, so that when you are insulted, those who speak evil of your good conduct as followers of Christ will become ashamed of what they say. For it is better to suffer for doing good, if this should be God’s will, than for doing evil. For Christ died for sins once and for all, a good man on behalf of sinners, in order to lead you to God. — 1 Peter 3:8-18 (GNT)
Questions to Ponder
- The admonition to “pay back [evil] with a blessing” is one of the most challenging commands in Scripture. Have you ever made the decision to repay evil with kindness? Has anyone ever repaid you with kindness after you did something to hurt them? What was the experience like?
- Do you think that when people consider your everyday actions and attitude, they are eager to learn about “the hope you have in you”?
- What does it take to be “ready at all times to answer” somebody who inquires about your faith? Are you?