By Sheeri Mitchell
1 Peter 3:8-10 (New International Version)
“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, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing.
For,’Whoever would love life
and see good days
must keep his tongue from evil
and his lips from deceitful speech…’”
We have a saying in the Mitchell household that I borrowed (read: stole) from one of my favorite bible study leaders, whose teaching I sat under for the better part of five years. In order to avoid dishonoring God and wounding other people with our mouths, we try very hard not to say anything except that which is true, kind, and necessary. Speaking the truth keeps us from lies and gossip. Being kind makes sure that we think before we speak, considering the feelings of the hearer, not just our own. The “necessary” prevents idle words or in the case of four children ages three through eleven, snitching. At least that is how it is supposed to work.
The problem is that when you have been offended, wounded, injured, your natural reaction is to react in kind. What results are hurtful words, broken hearts, broken relationships, followed by unforgiveness and bitterness. We see examples of this in the world system all the time. We even have pithy little sayings to justify it. “Don’t get mad, get even.” “Revenge is a dish best served cold.” Or my personal favorite: “Don’t start nothin’ won’t be nothin.’” One I’ve heard when counseling married women, “Oh, he ain’t gon’ punk me.” This last statement is usually followed by the recollection of a vengeful act or by a plan of action to avenge hurt feelings. The problem is that returning evil for evil only results in evil thriving and people dying, sometimes physically, but always, always spiritually.