“Do not repay evil for evil or abuse for abuse; but, on the contrary, repay with a blessing. It is for this that you were called—that you might inherit a blessing.” – 1 Peter 3:9
Listen, and I will tell you a mystery: sometimes, we make our own inheritance. You might think your inheritance is something that will come to you from someone else with more than you. Your rich great aunt, maybe. Or God. Someone outside yourself with more money or power or land or whatever. It will come to you in due time, if you behave well enough or otherwise earn it.
You might think that, but that’s not what the author of First Peter says. What he says is that your inheritance isn’t something you wait around till somebody gives to you; it’s something you make yourself. We are to bless one another, bless and not curse, not because it’s the right thing to do—or at least not JUST because it’s the right thing to do. We’re to bless because we want a blessing ourselves. We’re to be kind because we want kindness from others. The heaven we long for is in some real sense the heaven we create for the people around us.
Don’t believe me? Try it. Think about somebody who’s wronged you. Don’t start with a biggie; start with something small and annoying. Hold the person’s face in your mind. Consider what they did to you. And then bless them. Do it not because it’s the right thing to do (definitely true) or because they deserve it (probably true), but because you wish for blessing yourself. Just try it, and see how you feel afterwards. Try it and see if the thing you give doesn’t end up being the thing you get.
Bless me, God—and use me to do it if you have to. Amen.
Quinn G. Caldwell is the Pastor of Plymouth Congregational Church, Syracuse, New York. His most recent book is a series of daily reflections for Advent and Christmas called All I Really Want: Readings for a Modern Christmas. Learn more about it and find him on Facebook at Quinn G. Caldwell.