Many of us may admit that we have had to deal with communication barriers at some point. In addition, most of us would agree that it is harder to communicate when under stress. This is where we find the believers in 1 Peter Chapter 3 verses 8-10:
8 Finally, all of you, be like-minded, be sympathetic, love one another, be compassionate and humble. 9 Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult. On the contrary, repay evil with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing. 10 For, “Whoever would love life and see good days must keep their tongue from evil and their lips from deceitful speech...”
Peter wrote to persecuted Christians who were under at least three difficult circumstances. They were faced with: 1. How to relate to oppressive people in power (2:13–17). 2. How to react when being unfairly mistreated at work (2:18–25). 3. How married couples should behave and communicate even in difficult times (3:1–7).
After giving instructions, Peter described in verse 8 the type of person we ought to be under the above conditions. You may be asking yourself what this has to do with communication. The answer is - everything. What you bring to the table impacts how well your conversations go or don’t go. The first virtue Peter mentions is: be like-minded. This is the idea of two people traveling the same mental path together. The path we are to travel is our having the same mind of Christ. Second, be sympathetic, “feeling the same things.” This means a readiness to enter and share the feelings of others. Sympathy leaves no room for selfishness. They cannot co-exist. Third, to love one another, to be mutually affectionate towards others as loving brothers and sisters. Fourth, to be compassionate, to be tenderhearted or having a heart sensitive to the needs and feelings of others. There can be no Christianity without compassion. Fifth, to be humble “means thinking like a poor person.” The Greeks and Romans thought of this as a vice. However, we are to be humble because we know our utter dependence is on God. We know we can do nothing without Him.
These virtues are to be normative qualities in the lives of the people of God, reflecting the attitude and example of Christ. These virtues are to be present under any circumstances. They should be your nature. They should not be something you turn on or off. When this is who you are, then it will pay dividends. These virtues don’t happen overnight; they are acquired by your yielding to God’s word. This requires prayer and studying.
Remember, these virtues are non-verbal forms of communication. They speak much louder than words. Sympathy is how you feel, compassion is what you do, humility is how you do what you do because of how you feel. When you acquire these virtues, you will behave better and communicate better under pressure at home, in church, at work, and in the community, regardless of your circumstances.
Having these virtues will prevent you from repaying evil with evil or insult with insult. They will allow you to repay evil and insults with blessings. This supremely spiritual behavior will allow you to speak well to and about your persecutors, and allow you to do good for them, as well. In addition, you will receive God’s blessings. So, it pays to learn how to breakthrough your communication barriers.
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