As spiritual brothers and sisters in Christ, we are His church. We share a common salvation; we assemble together, encourage each other, worship God together, and share the gospel with those who do not know it. But as with any relationship, things do not always go smoothly. At times we do not agree with each other. We may be inconsiderate of each other. We may even sin against each other. We are still imperfect individuals upon this earth. Therefore, it is appropriate to be reminded of the words of the apostle Peter in 1 Peter 3:8-9 “Finally, all of you be of one mind, having compassion for one another; love as brothers, be tenderhearted, be courteous; 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.”
“Be of one mind.” This puts the emphasis on what we share together, and not on any differences we may have. We have a common goal in life, a common salvation, a common Lord, a common purpose in the things that we do. It means that we live in harmony with each other. In music, discord is a combination of musical tones that are unpleasant to the ear, whereas musical tones which are in harmony sound pleasant to the ear because they combine well together. As Christians, we should be harmonious in the things we do together. Romans 12:16 “Be of the same mind toward one another. Do not set your mind on high things, but associate with the humble. Do not be wise in your own opinion.” We treat each other as we want to be treated. Luke 6:31 “And just as you want men to do to you, you also do to them likewise.”
“Having compassion for one another.” Jesus often had compassion for those he met. For example, in Matthew 14:14 “And when Jesus went out He saw a great multitude; and He was moved with compassion for them, and healed their sick.” To have compassion is to feel the pain of another person coupled with an urgent desire to aid or to relieve him of his suffering. We can live in our own little world and only be concerned about our own problems in life. But having compassion for one another means that we sympathize and emphasize with each other and take action to help each other through our problems. Compassion should be motivated by our love for one another.
“Love as brothers.” As brothers and sisters in Christ, we are in the same spiritual family. We share so much together. Together we stand against the devil and the evilness in the world. There needs to be a fondness for each other because of what we share in common. 1 Peter 1:22 “Since you have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit in sincere love of the brethren, love one another fervently with a pure heart.” This brotherly love causes us to desire the success and well-being of each other.
“Be tenderhearted.” To be tenderhearted is to have soft feelings for another – to have pity. Hatred and bitterness are the opposite and cause you to disregard the problems and feelings of another and not help them. You are to be tenderhearted. Ephesians 4:32 “And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you.”
“Be Courteous.” It means to be humble in your mind, gracious, mannerly and polite. Philippians 2:3-4 “Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.”
“Not returning evil for evil or reviling for reviling.” To revile someone is to speak reproachfully or to be abusive with words. A fellow Christian should not do evil to you or revile you, but it may happen. Whether your receive evilness in actions or in words, you are not to return evil for evil; you are not to take vengeance or return in like manner. Christ is our ultimate example. 1 Peter 2:21-23 “For to this you were called, because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow His steps: ‘Who committed no sin, nor was deceit found in His mouth’; who, when He was reviled, did not revile in return; when He suffered, He did not threaten, but committed Himself to Him who judges righteously.”
“On the contrary, return a blessing.” Instead of returning evil for evil or reviling for reviling, give them a blessing. You can do something nice to your fellow Christian who is not nice to you. You can ask for God’s blessings in their life. Luke 6:28 “Bless those who curse you, and pray for those who spitefully use you.” “Knowing that you were called to this, that you may inherit a blessing.” God has chosen to bless us physically and spiritually in spite of our sinfulness, with the ultimate blessing of the inheritance of eternal life. Ask for God’s blessings on your fellow Christian.
My encouragement to you is to live in harmony with your fellow Christians, to love them and to bless them so that together you may be a light in the world and effectively serve our great God.