1Therefore, rid yourselves of all malice and all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander of every kind. 1 Peter 2:1(NIV)
I was always taught that if you see the word “therefore”, you need to go back and see what it’s there for. So I did. Just prior to this Peter tells us that since we have been purified through obedience we are to love each other deeply, from the heart. So we should rid ourselves of malice, deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander of every kind – out of love. Well, that sounds, reasonable… right? Right. So we read on….
11Dear friends, I urge you, as aliens and strangers in the world, to abstain from sinful desires, which war against your soul. 12Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us.
OK, so far so good. Still hard to do, but it still all sounds like a good Sunday school lesson in doing right, doing good, letting your light shine. Peter starts to introduce the fact that others may accuse us of doing wrong even when we are not “wrong” in God’s eyes. I think we’ve all been there before… Nothing too controversial yet…
13Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every authority instituted among men: whether to the king, as the supreme authority, 14or to governors, who are sent by him to punish those who do wrong and to commend those who do right.
I’m still following, although that word “every” in verse 13 kinda stands out…. Does he really mean “every” authority? I’ve had some pretty lousy authorities in my life… hmmmm….. I’ll keep going….
18Slaves, submit yourselves to your masters with all respect, not only to those who are good and considerate, but also to those who are harsh. 19For it is commendable if a man bears up under the pain of unjust suffering because he is conscious of God. 20But how is it to your credit if you receive a beating for doing wrong and endure it? But if you suffer for doing good and you endure it, this is commendable before God. 21To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps.
22“He committed no sin,
and no deceit was found in his mouth.”[e] 23When 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.
OK, now this doesn’t sound like a justice at all. Bearing up under unjust suffering is commendable to God? We aren’t supposed to retaliate when we are insulted? How is that fair??
I picture Jesus on the day of his death. Just as the prophets foretold, Jesus did not retailiate. He did not hurl insults back. For the most part he was silent at His trial. Now Peter tells us that this is the example set for us. And this is consistent with other Scripture that tells us not to repay evil with evil but to repay evil with good, and so on. I know this is hard for me – I think it’s hard for all of us. It just seems un-American, doesn’t it? Don’t we have rights?
Lord, I know I have a way to go in this area. It’s hard enough rid myself of malice and slander when it is born out of envy and selfishness, much less when it is born out of being treated unfairly (at least when it seems unfair from my point of view!). Help me to see that if I bear this without lashing out because I am concious of you that is commendable. Let me hand it all to you and trust that you judge justly. Give me confidence that you will work it all for good. I feel more peaceful already!