In most Bibles, 1 Peter 3:8 begins a new section. This is misleading. The passage begins with the word “finally,” meaning that it connects with what has come before. You can see what Peter says in 1 Peter 3:8-9.
Peter’s main topic since the middle of chapter 2 has been the idea of submission. Here in the middle of chapter 3, he begins to wrap up those thoughts with some specific instructions about how to respond to suffering under such circumstances.
The difference between this passage and the individually addressed sections is in the fact that Peter begins to address the whole Christian community now.
First of all, he urges harmony. It seems as if many of the churches were experiencing division and strife, and have been ever since. Peter encourages harmonious living and smooth relationships. This would definitely apply to relationships within the church, but also to their relationships to outsiders as well.
Next, he instructs them to be sympathetic to each other. This means to care about the needs of one another, their concerns, their joys, their circumstances.
Third, Peter encourages brotherly love. This is a theme he addresses more than once in his letter: 1:22, 2:17, and 5:9, among others. As believers, we are all of one family, and our love for one another should be evident.
Next, Peter tells his readers to be compassionate. Compassion is rooted in mercy, and is one of the hallmarks of faith.
Finally, he instructs them to be humble. This pairs closely to Paul’s exhortation in Philippians 2:3-4, where he states that we are to consider others as more important than ourselves.
In verse 9, he makes this very applicable to daily living. We are called to not repay evil in kind, but to reverse that by being a blessing to others, regardless of how they may treat us. Sounds a lot like the Golden Rule that Jesus gave, doesn’t it? You can see a similar teaching from Jesus in Luke 6:28-29 as well as in many of Paul’s letters.
This may seem counterintuitive at first glance, but the principle is simple: be a blessing to others, regardless of their actions, and the blessings will be returned. Sometimes, living by this idea can be difficult. But the effort is well worth it.
Because of our faith, we will face persecution and suffering. How we respond to it is critical. Responding like Jesus did should be our goal.
Question: Have you ever experienced suffering for your faith? Were you able to respond by being a blessing? You can leave a comment by clicking here.