"FOR THE EYES OF THE LORD ARE TOWARD THE RIGHTEOUS, AND HIS EARS ATTEND TO THEIR PRAYER, BUT THE FACE OF THE LORD IS AGAINST THOSE WHO DO EVIL."1 Peter 3:12(NASB)
We are exhorted, as children of God who are born-again in Christ, towards purity of heart, the pursuit of peace, compassion, mercy, and godly living... and yet this epistle is written during a time of severe suffering and increasingly intense Christian persecution.
Peter cautioned the Church that in the midst of this heightened hatred for God and escalating animosity towards those that are His, we are to maintain a clear conscience in thought, word, and deed, and to endure the inevitable suffering, with a dignified, Christ-like courage.
Peter reached back into the book of Psalms to endorse his directive, and to demonstrate that repaying evil with good comes from the very heart of God - for we read that, "The eyes of the LORD are toward the righteous, and His ears are open to their cry."
Jesus instructed us to pray for those that persecute us, while Paul reminds us that when we are cursed - we are to bless those that curse us, and when we are hurt - we are to heal. Compassion towards our aggressors and returning good for evil is not the normal response when one is persecuted for righteousness’ sake, and yet Christ called us to bless those who persecute us and to pray for those that falsely accuse us and say all manner of evil against us.
However, the Lord is not blind to our pain when ungodly men and women say and do all manner of evil against us... for Christ's sake... for, "the eyes of the Lord are over the righteous, and His ears are ever open unto their prayers." Indeed, the verse concludes, "the face of the Lord is against them that do evil," and the Psalmist even adds the sombre words, "and He will remove people's recollection of them from the earth."
The Bible makes it very plain that sinners will be punished and wickedness will not go unchallenged - evil is evil and will not be exonerated - and God Himself warned, "vengeance is Mine, and I will repay."
When Peter quoted these words from the Psalmist, however, he excluded that final, sombre sentence from his epistle... for today we live in the dispensation of the grace of God, when guilty sinners can be cleansed from all sin - by grace through faith in Christ's redemptive work on Calvary's Cross. But how terrible for those that willingly resist God's entreaty to call on the name of the Lord. How lamentable when men and women refuse to believe and be saved.
We who are born again in this Church age, are to be vehicles of God's grace. We have been entrusted with the ministry of reconciliation, and one Christian characteristic that is pleasing to the Lord, is the one who can demonstrate the long-suffering goodness of God in the midst of the trials and tribulations they face.
But there is coming a day of vengeance, when all evil-doers who have not sought Christ for the forgiveness of sins, through the cleansing power of His blood, will have to stand before the judgement seat of God... to give an account of their wickedness.
May we who have received the over-abounding mercy and grace of God in our lives, demonstrate a Christ-like character in our daily living - through purity of heart, the pursuit of peace, the compassion of Christ, the mercy of God, and a life that is walking in spirit and truth... even during these increasingly difficult days of severe suffering and increasingly intense Christian persecution.
Heavenly Father, thank You that Your eyes are over those that are cleansed by the blood of the Lamb and that Your ears are ever open to our prayers. Have mercy on those who have not accepted Your gracious offer of salvation, and use me as a witness to Your goodness and grace. In Jesus' name I pray, AMEN.