Not returning evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary, blessing, knowing that you were called to this, that you may inherit a blessing. (1 Peter 3:9)
Christian Behavior In Times Of Conflict
The world by nature is reactionary. Newton’s law that states for every action there is a reaction is true with the elements of earth and can sadly define the character of a man negatively. Everyone reacts to something whether good or bad. If a man slaps another on the cheek there will be a reaction. Either the abused man will strike back or he will choose to refrain from returning the insult. What separates the children of God from the children of the world is how they behave in the face of conflict. It is accepted in the world view the old principle of an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth and more often than not carried to extremes by those who are retaliating. A slap on the face can lead to murder. Cursing and insults can result in chaos, fights, and injury. Wars have been fought between nations over matters of insignificant minutiae. Cain killed Abel because he did not get respect from God. The history of man is filled with the legions of stories born from the inability of one man to refrain from retaliating against another.
Sin has always been at the root of the problem. The carnal heart demands justification and reprisal for any slight done against another. God has given man a law to curb his appetite for revenge and payback by establishing principles of character that will bring peace rather than war. Isaac dug again the wells of water which they had dug in the days of Abraham his father but then the herdsmen of Gerar quarreled with him and took his wells. He moved to another place and dug more wells. The herdsman again quarreled with Isaac and took the wells. Isaac once again moved from there and dug another well. This time there was no dispute over it, so Isaac named the place Rehoboth which means “open space.” Isaac exemplified the character of divine patience by not seeking revenge. He honored God saying “At last the Lord has created enough space for us to prosper in this land.”
The lesson from Isaac is the character of God’s people looks for peace. When reviled they do not revile in return. Jesus taught His disciples if they are sued in court and their shirt is taken, let them have the coat, too. Paul the apostle exhorted the Corinthian saints that when a brother takes brother to law against another it brings shame to the body of Christ. The Holy Spirit told the Christians why not just accept the injustice and leave it at that? Why not let yourselves be cheated? The child of God seeks peace in the face of chaos. This may mean that wrong is done to a person or he may even be cheated on something but at what cost will a man lose his soul?
Reviling is a harsh pill to swallow. When a man insults another the first reaction is to seek recourse for the slight. The Lord God does not suggest but demands His children to act in a certain manner by refusing to return an insult with an insult or injury with wrong. Jesus was reviled worse than any human being can ever lay claim but Jesus Christ never reviled in return. How dare the children of God take it upon themselves to return insult with insult when vicious words of defamation are leveled against another. There is a lot of hatred, prejudice, envy, animosity, bigotry, and bitterness in the world but this should not be in the kingdom of Jesus Christ. Evil must never be repaid with evil and insults can never be solved with retaliatory insults. A Christian rises above the chaos of the carnal world fueled by the wiles of the devil who delights in destroying lives. The godly character of a child of God is one of blessing because they have been called to be a blessing in a world absent of blessing. The Christian character in the face of conflict is a model of Jesus Christ. If you want to know how to act in our world of conflict – go read the life of God’s Son and then live it.