1 Peter 3:8-12
8Finally, all of you, have unity of spirit, sympathy, love for one another, a tender heart, and a humble mind. 9Do not repay evil for evil or abuse for abuse; but, on the contrary, repay with a blessing. It is for this that you were called—that you might inherit a blessing. 10For “Those who desire life and desire to see good days, let them keep their tongues from evil and their lips from speaking deceit; 11let them turn away from evil and do good; let them seek peace and pursue it. 12For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, and his ears are open to their prayer. But the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.”
If this is a continuation of the household code, the author now speaks to all members of the household, but also to all members of the Christian community. All should live with a united spirit, having sympathy for others, loving one another. There should be mutual love and respect. Their hearts should be tender – as opposed to being hard-hearted. And their minds should be humble – as opposed to arrogant. I would not read the earlier parts of this chapter at a wedding, but verse 8 would be one that people of any age could understand and apply – a household established on these principles would endure. And if we apply this to the church, as community, the community would know unity, love, and grace.
He says then, “Do not repay evil with evil, or abuse for abuse; but repay with a blessing.” Does this remind you of Jesus’ words? “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you”. (Matthew 5:44) Or, “If anyone strikes you on the right cheek, turn the other also.” (Matthew 5:39). For we are called to bless others, and in that we inherit blessing. This is the basis of the Christian message, when you get to it – to follow Jesus we must leave the idol of self behind. Whoever seeks to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life will preserve it. (Luke 17:33) We do not find joy in life by seeking joy; we do not find satisfaction by seeking it for ourselves; we do not find love by seeking love for ourselves. We find joy, satisfaction, hope, and love in loving others, in seeking their joy and satisfaction. We are blessed, as Abraham was, to be a blessing.
The author then quotes Psalm 34:13 -17, emphasizing the rewards of living good lives – as we said above, those who seek life, who desire good days, should live good lives, turning from evil – in their speech, in doing good, in seeking peace. For God will hear the prayers of such people. The Psalm then says that God turns his face away from those who do evil. It is hard for me to leave this there – for it must be remembered that God loves even those who are “unlovable”, even those who do evil. God is always ready to turn his face toward them, when they seek him. For we are not either evil or good; we are all some combination of both. As Christians, the Spirit helps us to recognize what is not good in us, to repent of that, and give it back to God, asking his forgiveness. With God’s help, we can then live better lives, doing good to others; and they, then, might also find him. The best reason to love those who do evil towards you is that they might see the love of God in you and turn their own face back to God. They too are children of God.