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Living Under Pressure

1 Peter 3:8-9
Finally, all of you, be like-minded, be sympathetic, love one another, be compassionate and humble. 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. (NIVUK)

We all live under pressure to some degree.  How we live is determined by what we believe. Peter's personal relationship style was rather bold, blunt and opinionated (Matthew 16:21-23); but he let God work on His character (Luke 5:8).  He had found out the hard way that working with God's people was better than fighting against them; and humility was better than pride ... not just because the relationships became harmonious, but also because it was the lifestyle that God had called him into (Romans 12:18).  It was not right because it worked: it worked because it was right.

So far, in this chapter, Peter has called the wives to choose to lovingly submit themselves to their husbands’ authority (1 Peter 3:1-6).  Then he instructed the husbands to treat their wives with honour and dignity, but gently serving them (1 Peter 3:7).  Now he says that the principle of humble mutual submission is the character of heaven and should be applied to every relationship on earth.  Peter clearly paints it as Jesus’ character and our model for living: “To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps.  ‘He committed no sin, and no deceit was found in his mouth.’  When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly.” (1 Peter 2:21-23)
Trading insults is common enough in any secular arena where Jesus is not honoured, and sometimes that is seen in churches too.  But it is not the Jesus-way.  He received evil but gave out blessing and expects us to do the same (Luke 6:27-28).  When we trust the Lord for our lives and futures, He will deal with those who oppose us (Romans 12:19).  We may not be able to trust them, but we can pray that the Lord will bring them to repentance.
The thought of heaven should put our lives into context.  We are called to be with the Lord for ever and to inherit His blessing (please note that God never says that all the blessing comes in this life!).  If that is true, and it is, then we need to start to practise the life which blesses people instead of cursing them (Romans 12:14).  The workplace and the church can both provide opportunities to meet and bless difficult people.  Your circumstances are God's school where you can learn how to respond like Jesus.  So do not despair or trade insults; but react in humble compassion - difficult people are usually hurt people, who need the love of Jesus.

Gracious Lord. How I thank You for the example of Jesus in facing unfair opposition, and for Your kindness to me despite my lifestyle failures. Forgive me for refusing to lovingly submit to the needs of those who persecute me. Help me to show compassion to the hurt people around me, and to seek Your blessing where human nature would naturally curse. In Jesus' Name. Amen.
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© Dr Paul Adams