I learned a shocking thing about eulogies, and in this post I’m going to reveal what I learned.
This week we are studying 1 Peter 3:8-12, and so far we have learned the Top 5 adjectives that Peter says should describe a church family. Now he gets to some verbs, some actions that members of a church family should practice.
Look at Verse 9 and we see the verb “paying back”, or as the NIV says “repay”. This can be positive or negative. You have to look at the context. A payback can be very positive, right? When you borrow money, you pay it back. That is good. Or when someone is kind to you, then you are kind back. Or you might pay it forward. You are sitting at the drive through and the person in front of you pays for your meal, so you pay for the meal of the person behind you. Those are awesome paybacks.
Then there are other not so awesome paybacks. And that is the verb, the action Peter is talking about. But he puts a tiny little three letter word in front of it, the word “not”. Do not repay. Do not do the negative paybacks. At a recent youth group pool party, I witnessed tons of paybacks. A person would be standing on the edge of the pool, and another person nearby would push them in! Guess what would happen five minutes later? Yeah, paybacks. I think we got to the point where there paybacks for paybacks for paybacks.
The first things Peter mentions is paying back evil for evil. Don’t do that, he says. The second thing he mentions is paying back insult with insult. Don’t do that either.
The word Peter uses for “insult” means “highly insulting and slanderous.” We are not sure if Peter is referring to the method or the message, or both. It doesn’t matter. Don’t do either one. Don’t speak with an insulting tone, and don’t speak insulting messages. He is saying “Don’t pay back an insulting comment with an insult of your own.”
This requires huge amounts of self-control and love. We need it in church families just as much as we need it in any family, any friendship, and workplace, any neighborhood. Christians show self-control when someone treats us bad.
How about you? Do you have trouble with self-control? Has your mouth gotten you in trouble? The escalation of insulting one another is rampant in our society, and it can happen in the church too. Drama increases! What should we do when people are mean to us?
As Peter continues in verse 9, he gives us the answer. Guess what? He says the answer is eulogy! See the word “Blessing”? In Greek this is the word from which we get our English word “eulogy.”
I have done a lot of eulogies in funerals. But Peter doesn’t have a funeral in mind here. He is saying “Eulogize people when they insult you!” Now, when you are insulted, you might be inwardly wishing it was that person’s funeral! But no, Peter is saying, bless them. Here is the definition of eulogy, the specific word that Peter uses. This definition blew me away, when I thought about how Peter uses it in the context of a person who has just been insulted! The definition is “to ask God to bestow divine favor on, with the implication that the verbal act itself constitutes a significant benefit”
That is amazing. When they insult you, eulogize ‘em! And it doesn’t mean you wish them dead! It means you ask for God to bless them.
What’s more, Peter supports his teaching by saying that we Christians are called to eulogize people who insult us, so that we might inherit a eulogy.
Think about that. If we bless people who insult us, or who are evil to us, that means that we will inherit a blessing. Again, remember the definition of this word blessing, eulogy, “to ask God to bestow divine favor on.” Would you like God to bestow his favor on you? If so, we are to be the kind of people who ask God to bestow his favor on those who insult us or who are evil to us!
So now whenever someone says something mean to you, just put on a smile and say “I am going to eulogize you right now.” They’ll give you a weird look. So maybe don’t do that…they might misunderstand and think that you want them dead, which could make things worse!
Instead, you might just need to not say anything. You know yourself. When you are attacked, you might have a really hard time reacting with kindness. If so, maybe the victory for you is to just respond with a smile, and pray silently in your thoughts that God would shine his favor on them.
You’ll have to evaluate the emotional temperature of the situation. It may be that the person is so upset that they are not in a place to hear anything, even blessing.
For one of my college soccer games, we were playing another Christian college. I played defense and my main job that game was to cover one-on-one an offensive guy from the other team. So we battled a lot throughout the course of the game, and this guy had some attitude.
There we are, players from two Christians schools playing a level of soccer that was maybe the quality of good public high schools. Not world cup. Not professional. Not even close. And this guy on the other team was fired up, pulling at my jersey, talking nasty to me, and I’m thinking to myself, “You have got to be kidding me.” Now I will admit that it was not a proper eulogy or blessing, and my attitude definitely had a dose of snarkiness, but at one point I looked at him and said, “Jesus loves you, man.” It was a Christian soccer player attempt at repaying an insult with a blessing. The funny thing is that it seemed to hit home.
After the game, he actually came up to me, shook hands and thanked me, saying that it totally convicted him! I was shocked. Glad, but shocked. Embarrassed because my motivations weren’t totally pure, but still amazed that God used that. When we played that team the next year, that guy came right up to me with a big smile, remembering the previous years’ interaction and he was like a totally different guy. It was wild.
When they insult you, eulogize ‘em.