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. 1 Peter 3:9, NLT
We have all experienced it. We have all had people hurt us-whether intentionally or not so. Whether due to circumstances outside of anyone’s control; or actions, words, or deeds that were chosen, and maybe a little “out” of control.
We have all experienced hurt. We have even all been the one at some point in time inflicting the hurt.
Today’s post isn’t about deep hurts-that is a path to healing and forgiveness that takes a little more time. One that can’t be wrapped up neatly in one post, because it is just that hard. I know because I am walking it. Walking it over again for some things through which I thought I had already taken that path many years ago.
However, we can still approach people who have hurt us with the following as Peter instructs in 1 Peter 3:8, being “agreeable, sympathetic, loving, compassionate, and humble, without sharp-tongued sarcasm” (The Message).
One of the easiest places to get tripped up, and caught up in this need to retaliate with the same hurt is through our daily interactions. Our relationships with those around us, and with those with whom we will come into contact, or with whom we will speak. Electronic devices and the use of social media, messaging and texting make it so easy to do. Hurt comes in the form of words or general complacency. Or let’s just be real…we get this “I’ve got a second, let me respond and just get this over with. Give this as little emotion and attention as possible as I can right now to say I did” attitude about our relationships and connections.
Our words become impulsive with the tap of our thumbs. Behind screens we become invincible. And we say and do things we would not do in person. Things that damage and impair meaningful connections-simply because we never took the time to stop, think, and be agreeable, sympathetic, loving, compassionate, or humble.
When we are on the receiving end, oh…we want to pull out our “fire” thumbs. Tap back a response. One that demands an apology, puts people in their place. And then back and forth. Round and round we go. Retaliating.
I wish we could be as bold in our face to face interactions as we are in the ones we have with our thumbs. Behind keyboards and screens. Then maybe we would not be walking around with so many unresolved, hurt feelings because of perceived words or actions.
Or maybe we can simply be the one who stops the trail of hurt in the beginning. “Do not repay evil for evil.” The call from Peter implies a choice. Which means in this case we have a choice whether we will hurt someone, or as he also instructs, “pay them back with a blessing.”
And blessings can be firm boundaries that tell where lines have been crossed, without the use of hurtful words or actions. We can speak the truth using loving, compassionate language, and still let others know we will not tolerate being harmed or dishonored. We can call out disrespect without being nasty and unkind.
Or…we can choose surrender. Give the situation to God. Ask God to bless them. Ask God to rid their hearts of hurt and bitterness…(oh, and ours, too). Ask God to show them the path to righteousness, and to give them a life that is prosperous; if they so choose to take that one.
We can give it to God, and move on.
Sometimes it’s the best payback. It’s the one that’s unexpected.
Because here’s the straight up truth. We cannot control how someone speaks. We cannot control the actions of others, or their character when they are hurting.
We choose on this day whom we will serve, and if we are serving Him, we serve others with kindness, sympathy, love, compassion, and humility.
Because we may never get an apology. That person may never see the errors in the way a situation was handled. May never change at all. May change, and we may never see it. And we can’t go back and fix anything.
But we can be a blessing, and in doing so He will bless us.
When we bless this way, let go and move on; He will pay us back what we are owed-Our peace. Our dignity. Our courage. The true payback.