1 Peter 3:9 Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult, but with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing.
This speaks to a deeply entrenched human trait. In Japanese culture, revenge is even celebrated as a noble thing! However, when we take it on ourselves to right wrongs done to us, not only do we do damage to our own souls by nursing the hurt, we commit blasphemy, because we are appropriating something that God says is His to do. (Romans 12:19 and several more) This is all tied into the matter of forgiveness, and that is really deep water for most people. We don’t like to forgive! However, failing to forgive damages you more than it does the one you are not forgiving, and seeking revenge results in a literal death spiral, spiritually if not physically. Peter is here being very practical, speaking not only of “evil” but of insults. We’ve all seen people who can’t handle what they see as insults – even or especially if they have truth behind them! To be honest, we’ve all reacted that way ourselves. Sometimes our enemies will say things to us that we need to hear, that our friends won’t. That’s not to say that we are to accept every insult as truth, but rather that we should be humble enough to ask God what truth there might be in the insult, so that we may repent and grow. Some insults, on the other hand, are actually backhanded compliments, pointing out traits that the speaker really is jealous of. And then there’s the whole matter of the devil being a liar. When he says things to us, either through someone or directly to our minds, we should say, “Thank you. Since you said it, I know it’s not true!” However, that requires being familiar enough with what God says about us and to us to recognize the devil when he speaks. As Peter says, we were called to live this way, to receive the full blessing that God has prepared for us.
Ministering in Japan as I do, I am dealing with this issue constantly. As I have explained before, most Japanese don’t even know the word for Biblical forgiveness. It is a homophone (sounds the same) as a word that means permission, and that clouds their understanding to a high degree. Just last night I actually hung up on someone over this very issue, saying very strongly, “I am not talking about giving permission.” I’m certainly not proud of doing so, but it was someone with whom I had discussed this issue repeatedly, in considerable detail, and they were still insisting that there were things they should not forgive. They’ve made a mess of their family over this, even though they are a baptized Christian. There are indeed many things in the world that we should never permit; that is what legal justice is for. However, failure to forgive, even apart from all the damage it does to everyone involved, says clearly that we don’t understand how much God has forgiven us in Christ, and the nature of that forgiveness.
Father, frankly I get very tired of constantly battling with this issue. I have neither the patience nor the wisdom to do it properly. That’s why I ask You to pour Your grace into and through me, so that I may not hinder its flow to those around me. Help me speak the truth in love, always, as strongly as necessary but only as You direct, so that people may receive Your truth and be set free, (John 8:32) for their salvation and Your glory. Thank You. Hallelujah!