What to Say When There’s Nothing to Say
- Thursday, August 29, 2013
For Peter, Jesus was the ultimate fulfillment of the suffering servant prophesied about 500 years earlier. Peter directs the words of Isaiah at his community by exchanging the pronoun “we” for “you”: “By his wounds you have been healed.” Jesus bore our sin and lifted our iniquities so that we will no longer be separated from God (1 Pet 2:24; Isa 53:8). We don’t have to endure ultimate suffering—separation from God—because of the ultimate sufferer’s actions. All we have to do is believe, and then begin “living for righteousness” (the right purposes) (1 Pet 2:24).
The example of Christ’s suffering in 1 Pet 2:24 also clarifies Peter’s point in 1 Pet 2:21: We should react to suffering like Jesus did, being willing to suffer for other people. When we suffer, we share something in common with Jesus. We have an opportunity to show people Christ’s faithfulness in how we react. Jesus was rejected, humiliated, beaten and murdered. When tragedy happens to us, it is not caused by God, but it is certainly an opportunity to show ourselves faithful.
When you are going through horrible times, people will watch to see how you react. It may seem strange and even unfair, but God might be answering your prayers in a round-about way. A friend who needs Christ may accept Him because you believed that God would continue to work through you—even in the midst of your pain.
Above all, Peter wants us to remember that we are not alone. When we cry out to Christ, He understands our pain and weaknesses because He endured the same thing.
Reason 3: Blessings
Peter’s audience was suffering at the hands of other people, because they believed in Jesus. If you have endured persecution for Christ, you know how traumatic it can be. Peter offers some advice: following the example of his Savior, he encourages us not to repay evil for evil or insult for insult.
Finally, all of you, live in harmony with one another; be sympathetic, love as brothers, be compassionate and humble. Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult, but with blessing (εὐλογέω, eulogeō), because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing (εὐλογία, eulogia) (1 Pet 3:8–9 NIV).
“Bless” those who harm me? You have got to be kidding. What is Peter talking about? The Greek words Peter uses (eulogeō and eulogia) both have to do with wishing favor upon someone—specifically the type of favor wished on someone through prayer. We don’t need a Greek dictionary to figure this out. Just look at the context:
Finally, all of you, live in harmony with one another; be sympathetic, love as brothers, be compassionate and humble. Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult, but with eulogeō, because to this you were called so that you may inherit eulogia.
From the context, we find the sense of the word. “Favor” works nicely:
Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult, but with favor, because to this you were called so that you may inherit favor.
If we turn the other cheek, those attempting to inflict pain will be thrown off their game. They will be taken aback. They may even suddenly begin to favor us.
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