Recently, I felt insulted by another individual. I wish that I could tell you that I responded in a humble, meek Christian manner. Quite the contrary. I tried to pay the individual back with a smart aleck comment…thought he deserved it! I felt justified with my response…that is until I read one of my daily devotionals yesterday which highlighted 1 Peter 3:9, “Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult. On the contrary, repay evil with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing.” This verse felt like a Mike Tyson punch to my gut. What a jerk I am! According to St. Peter, as a Christ-follower, I am commanded to “repay” a sucker punch from another individual with “a blessing.” This expectation knocked the wind out of me. I regained my spiritual senses and realized that I violated “the fruit of the Spirit” in Galatians 5:22&23. More specifically, I was a poor testimony of “self-control.” Believers are challenged to be “self-controlled” not “other controlled.” If I had allowed the Holy Spirit within me to produce “self-control”, my response to the insult would have become a moment of grace rather than a hateful reaction of self-justification. The “offending” person did not cause me to sin, I did that on my own.
James 1:19 declares, “Be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to anger.” Conversely, I translated this verse in the ways of the flesh and the world, “react immediately with vengeance by verbally lashing out at the assailing person who unfairly invaded my emotional space without any need to listen to his viewpoints. I’m the victim!” 1 Peter 3:9 above made it obvious that I need to align my walk with the “Spirit of God” in humility with Christ continuously on the throne of my life not my small-minded, selfish spirit. The Holy Spirit pricked my memory:
- James 1:26 states, “Those who consider themselves religious and yet do not keep a tight rein on their tongues deceive themselves, and their religion is worthless.”
- 1 Timothy 2:8 declares, “I want the men everywhere to pray, lifting up holy hands without anger or disputing.”
The verse just prior to my initial text (1 Peter 3:8) explains to us how to live…“Finally, all of you, be like-minded, be sympathetic, love one another, be compassionate and humble.” If I had heeded this verse in obedience to Jesus, I would not have reacted the other day over such a silly event but would have responded compassionately and humbly.
To live out agape love, you will not be able to walk in the energy of the flesh. Only Jesus can live a life of agape (unselfish, sacrificial) love. Each of us need to walk “filled with the Holy Spirit” daily. Then and only then, “If someone slaps you on one cheek, turn to them the other also. If someone takes your coat, do not withhold your shirt from them” (Luke 6:29). “And if anyone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles” (Mark 5:41). These verses reveal that this life is not about me, myself, and mine. The Bible gives the Christ-follower the great commandment, “love one another: just as I have loved you.” Amen…