“When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly” (1 Peter 2:23).
Love the Word
Has someone insulted you or caused you harm? When either occurs, our first inclination is to retaliate or to make threats. However, the apostle Peter offered a different approach, one that was both taught and caught through his experience with his Lord and Savior.
Learn the Word
Old Testament civil laws allowed for equity in judicial matters. If someone took a resource from you, you were to be repaid one-for-one (see Exodus 21:24; Leviticus 24:20; Deuteronomy 19:21). The legalistic interpretation of the law followed the letter of the law, but missed the spirit of the law. It said that one should retaliate when harmed. The motto was “When a resource is taken from you, take the same back one-for-one.” We see it today among our children. When bumped on the playground, a child bumps back. We see it in the marketplace. When taken advantage of, a businessman retaliates. We see it in sports. When fouled, an athlete fouls back. We see it in marriages and divorces. When harmed by a spouse, the other harms in return one-for-one. While retaliation might feel good at the moment, it enslaves us.
Peter learned firsthand from Jesus to turn the other cheek: “If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also” (Matthew 5:39). Being struck on the right cheek implied that someone slapped you with the back of his right hand. That was a cultural expression for an insult. We use the same imagery today when we say, “That was a backhanded comment.” By teaching His disciples to turn the other cheek, Jesus had reiterated an Old Testament principle: “Ignore insults” (Proverbs 12:16). An insult is designed to attack our identity. When we ignore the insult, we defuse it by eliminating the insulter’s desired reaction. If we retaliate, we play right into his hands.
Peter also caught this principle from Jesus’ example on the cross, the most excruciating death ever devised by mankind. Jesus was insulted, stripped, beaten, scourged, mocked, and impaled for no crime of His own. He was totally innocent. It was in that setting at the hands of unjust leaders that Peter witnessed His Savior not retaliating, His Lord not threatening. Instead He entrusted Himself to the Father. Entrust literally meant “to handover.” While on the cross, Jesus sought forgiveness for those who were crucifying Him (see Luke 23:34), evangelized a thief who was hanging next to Him (see Luke 23:43), secured provisions for His mother (see John 19:26-27), fulfilled His mission (John 19:30), and handed Himself over to the Father (see Luke 23:46).
Live the Word
Memorize 1 Peter 2:23. Recite it everyday this week. When insulted, don’t retaliate. When suffering harm by another person, don’t make threats. Instead, hand yourself over to the One who judges justly.