On January 30, 2018, almost thirty-eight years after his conviction, Malcolm Alexander walked out of prison a free man. DNA evidence cleared Alexander, who had steadfastly maintained his innocence amid a myriad of court proceedings that were tragically unjust. An incompetent defense attorney (later disbarred), shoddy evidence, and dubious investigative tactics all put an innocent man in prison for nearly four decades. When he was finally released, however, Alexander showed immense grace. “You cannot be angry,” he said. “There’s not enough time to be angry.”
Alexander’s words evidence a deep grace. If injustice robbed us of thirty-eight years of our lives and destroyed our reputations, we would likely be angry, furious. Though Alexander spent many long, heartbreaking years bearing the burden of wrongs inflicted upon him, he wasn’t undone by the evil. Rather than exerting his energy trying to get revenge, he exhibited the posture Peter instructs: “Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult” (1 Peter 3:9).
The Scriptures go a step further: rather than seeking vengeance, the apostle Peter tells us we are to bless (v. 9). We extend forgiveness, the hope of well-being, for those who have unjustly wronged us. Without excusing their evil actions, we can meet them with God’s scandalous mercy. On the cross, Jesus bore the burden of our wrongs, that we might receive grace and extend it to others—even those who have wronged us.
Without excusing their actions, how can you extend mercy to others who have wronged you? What will it mean for you to “bless” them?
When Peter wrote, “Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult” (1 Peter 3:9), he echoed the words of Jesus Himself, who said, “Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you” (Luke 6:27). Jesus added, “If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners love those who love them” (v. 32).
Why are we to display such supernatural love? It shows the world the heart of our Father. By loving our enemies, Jesus said, “You will be children of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful” (vv. 35–36). As Peter noted, “To this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing” (1 Peter 3:9). By blessing our enemies, we ourselves are blessed. Such is the counterintuitive nature of the gospel.