9 Do not repay evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary, bless, for to this you were called, that you may obtain a blessing” (I Peter 3:9).
In I Peter 3:8, Peter listed five virtues of Christian living specifically related to how we speak. I Peter 3:9 relates to how we physically behave towards others.
First, we are not to repay evil for evil. Second, we are not to revile when others have reviled us. What does it mean to revile?
Reviling (λοιδορία; loidoria) means to slander, or to strongly insult another person. The word slander means to defame someone’s character or to speak about them with the intent of hurting them or their reputation.
Notice, people may revile or slander us, but we are not to slander them in return. I’m sure you have experienced someone speaking unkindly of you. I’m also sure that your first inclination was to return the favor. How can I be so sure? Because this is how I feel when people revile and slander me. When hit, verbally or otherwise, our first desire is to hit right back. However, this type of response will not please God and will not be a good example to others.
Peter’s audience perhaps wanted to strike back at their enemies for their slanderous statements of being perverted in following Christ. People called first century Christians cannibals because they ate the so-called body and blood of Christ when they gathered to worship and observe the Lord’s Supper.
What are we to do instead? We are called to consistently bless. We are to praise and speak well of someone (εὐλογέω; eulogeo) all the time. This is what God calls or summons His children to do.
As you and I do this, God says we will obtain a blessing in return. God will praise and speak well of us, as will other people, when we behave this way. It may not always be easy, but it will be an example of excellent Christ-like behavior.
Who has recently, or in the past, slandered you? Do their names come to mind? Bless them right now, where you’re at. Don’t wait another minute to obey God’s calling. If necessary, and I’m sure it is, ask God for His help in doing what He has called you to do.
Soli deo Gloria!