Christians are citizens of Heaven who are merely passing through Earth, so this isn’t a Christian’s final home. Because of this, it’s not unusual for Earthlings to mistreat, insult, and even persecute these “aliens and strangers.”
How are Christians supposed to respond to this?
First off, let’s make sure the persecution is for the right reason. Jesus said, “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me” (Matthew 5:11).
Jesus also told us that this persecution has a blessing in it: we would be able to share our faith in Jesus Christ at the highest levels on Earth: “On account of Me you will stand before governors and kings as witnesses to them” (Mark 13:9).
In 1 Peter 3:8, the apostle tells us how to live with everyone, Christian and Earthling alike:
- Harmoniously—keep The Main Thing the main thing; don’t get caught up in petty arguments
- Empathetically—put yourself in others’ shoes
- Kindly—treat everyone like a sibling that shares the same parents with you
- Compassionately—be strong enough to handle other people’s stuff
- Courteously—remember this: manners matter!
This list may be easy to live out when people are friendly to you, but what about when unfriendly Earthlings are downright mean to you? In the very next verse Peter gives us two Don’ts and one Do:
- Don’t repay evil with evil—Jesus is our example of this (see 1 Peter 2:21-23)
- Don’t insult the insulters—treat others as you want them to treat you (Luke 6:31)
- Do bless those who slander and persecute you—Jesus says we get absolutely no credit if we only treat kind people kindly (see Luke 6:32-33)
In Psalm 35 David is dealing with people who are fighting against him. They are saying mean things and trying to do even meaner things. This prayer shows both God’s part and our part…
God’s part—defend me against the evildoers … remind me of Your salvation … pursue those who are falsely pursuing me … stay close to me.
My part—listen to God’s voice of assurance … live quietly … don’t give others cause to mistreat me … pray for those who persecute me … continually turn my thoughts and praise to God.
Peter wraps up this thought with these words—Who is going to harm you if you are eager to do good? But even it you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed (1 Peter 3:13-14).
Don’t give in to mistreatment and lash out in anger. Trust God to handle things. Keep on living a good life that is focused on bringing God all the glory due His name!