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Bless the Haters



The Christian’s allegiance to Jesus often results in being misunderstood and insulted by people around us. But we are not called to passively withdraw or to lash out in anger; we are meant to bless those who disagree with us. Continuing in our Take Heart series, Ben Stuart shows us how Peter encouraged the church to respond to those who opposed them and offers some guiding principles about navigating an increasingly antagonistic culture.

Key Takeaway

We have been called to a better way. When we show love to the culture and they hit us back, we outlast them with our suffering, we out-love their hate. Our inheritance is secure, so what do we have to lose? Do good so that they may come to know Jesus.

How God has called us to live within a culture that hates the values and priorities of Christians.

  • Posture (inward)- loving the family
  • Practice (outward)- blessing your enemy
  • Perspective (upward)- how you hope in God

1. Posture - loving the family

The world may be a hostile place, but your church home shouldn't be. The priorities and values of a familial home are broadened to the Family of God. The core is meant to be strong so you can do heavy lifting. Your inner ring must have strength to reach the outer ring. 1 Peter 3:8 tells us how to do this.

  • Be of one mind- common vision and values, not robots. Everyone is on the same page, unity of mind. See Romans 15.
  • Have sympathy. Pathos means pain: your pain is my pain, we suffer together. Hebrews 4:15 explains that Jesus did this as our high priest.
  • Brotherly love- in Greek it's "philidelphia", it's a sincere love for each other.
  • Tender hearts towards each other - in Greek it is "eusplagchnos" which means "good intestines", we feel things at a gut-deep level, and we are moved by wanting someone's good.

If you don't want to do these things, then you won't have it. It's a family.

2. Practice - blessing your enemy

1 Peter 3:9. Peter is giving directions on how to handle it when they revile you or criticize you in an abusive or angry manner. They are speaking evil about you and therefore slandering you by ignorance. You don't attack them, you bless them. See Psalm 34. Peter also warns against deceit. It's a hateful thing to do. Lying withholds information from someone so they cannot make an informed decision, therefore you hold all the power. It makes their decision benefit you and gives you more power.

It is much easier to not revile than it is to bless your enemy. This is where we reach the limits of ourselves. That's the point. We can only do this through the power of the Holy Spirit. We have to ask ourselves, who is our master? Who are we following? Who are we leading? Who is directing our path? If you are throwing punch for punch, you look like the culture. So, if incivility is rampant, you don't have to look far, but to your own heart to see if you are participating.

3. Perspective - how to hope in God

1 Peter 3:9b-12. For to this you were called! Look to Jesus. Can you imagine if he spit back when He was spit on, or cursed those who pulled out His beard? Throughout everything, He continued to bless and pray for His enemies.

Obtain means inherit, not strive for. An inheritance is given, not earned. It doesn't matter what the world does to you, your inheritance is secure. You are taking your cues from somewhere else. In the same way that Jesus changed the world by blessing his enemies, you can be a change agent in your culture. Through Jesus, God moved toward us with blessing. When we were His enemies and He made an enemy into a friend.

The People of Jesus can dissolve the hate in the culture. Can you bless instead of curse? Can you speak well of someone? Pray for those who persecute you.

We do it because we follow a God who did it. You do good no matter what the culture says. When Peter speaks of seeking peace, he is saying to investigate it, look for ways to bring peace, and then pursue it. The system of "love your enemies" would not work if there was no God. You're going to have a hard time in this system if you don't believe in God.

Verse 12: the Lord's eyes are on you, the righteous. This isn't just a past ancient history thing, it's happening right now. He's aware! He knows exactly what they said and did to you. He is waiting for your prayer. He is just, no one will get away with anything. Sin will be paid for either by Jesus on the cross or by an individual in Hell. When you ponder the justice and severity of God, you praise Him for His mercy. You stop telling Him that you have to get revenge, you start trusting His control. It's not just the past grace of God, but the present sovereign grace of God that can transform your heart. We can be an agent of change. When we show love and the culture hits us back, we outlast them with our suffering, we out-love their hate.


[On retaliation] "Then the devil wins. They're not your enemy, they're your master. They had control over your emotions. They changed you. So, they took something from you and you let them, because they can't change you unless you let them."

Mike Tyson

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Scripture References

  • 1 Peter 3:8-12
  • Romans 15
  • Hebrews 4
  • Hebrews 10
  • Psalm 34
  • 1 Peter 2:20-25
  • Matthew 5:44
Ben Stuart Ben Stuart is the pastor of Passion City Church D.C. Prior to joining Passion City Church, Ben served as the executive director of Breakaway Ministries on the campus of Texas A&M. He also earned a master’s degree in historical theology from Dallas Theological Seminary. He and his wife, Donna, live to inspire and equip people to walk with God for a lifetime.