God wants us to have a wonderful life. However, sometimes, what begins as a blessing can seem to end in a curse. How do we return to that original state of the blessing?
Peter walks through this. He talks about receiving that inheritance, having a taste of the blessing as we had in the beginning of our relationships. Returning to this stage again is possible, but it only comes through living an intentional life.
Peter talks about the blessings and the power of a blessing:
“To sum up, all of you be harmonious, sympathetic, brotherly, kindhearted and humble in spirit; not returning evil for evil or insult for insult, but giving a blessing instead; for you were called for the very purpose that you might inherit a blessing” (1 Pet. 3:8-9).
Can we return to the blessing? Yes, but it requires living an intentional life. In the beginning, it is automatic and effortless. Now it will require intentional effort.
Blessings Follow an Intentional Life
Blessings follow an intentional life — not precede it. We must learn to live by what we know and no longer how we feel. The Scripture says:
“The just shall live by faith” (Rom. 1:17).
We must understand that the just—or those that are saved in Christ—still have relationships that will go awry. Not everybody is going to like us. We have got to be able to overcome that feeling and move into an intentional life where we control what we would like to do and what we would like to say: we seek what faith says.
Stages of an Intentional Life
Here are the stages of an intentional life, especially when relationships go sideways.
- First Stage: Quick Forgiveness
“But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you” (Matt. 5:44).
Not just forgiveness, but quick forgiveness! That is an intentional life.
In the beginning, quick forgiveness is easy. But eventually, forgiveness is not as quick. I have found that forgiveness is not natural, not as much as it used to be. It is not innate, it is not instinctive and it is not as automatic. The Bible is saying you have got to forgive, not just forgive, but you must forgive quickly!
When we forgive, it protects us from being scarred permanently because of another person. Intentional forgiveness, not simply because the other person deserves it, releases a portion of our inheritance.
- Second Stage: Pray for Them Early On
The second stage of intentionality is not just when we quickly forgive, forget and move on. The second stage of living an intentional life goes one step further. It is not that we just forgive, we actually:
“… pray for those who mistreat you” (Luke 6:28).
The Lord tells us when things go awry, pray. Remember that things we issue like forgiveness and prayer are going to be reciprocal. This means in order to receive a blessing, there has got to be something that we issue intentionally, not based on feelings because the feelings will not be there.
“Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another so that you may be healed” (James 5:16).
Pray for one another. When we pray for one another, what does God release to us? Healing! Is that part of our inheritance? Absolutely!
When we pray intentionally, God says pray for one another so that we may be healed. Then part of our inheritance is released to us because there is a gaining of maturity. We are living on the side of intentional living because the just shall live by faith.
- Third and Greatest Stage: Bless Them
The third stage of intentional living is the highest stage. It’s not easy, but we must bless them.
“… not returning evil for evil or insult for insult, but giving a blessing instead; for you were called for the very purpose that you might inherit a blessing” (1 Pet. 3:9).
This is our calling so that we might inherit a blessing. Remember, we are not responsible for deciding who is worthy of a blessing and who is not; God is responsible. We do not take the role of God. Blessing is not the result of a person’s deservedness.
God tells us to bless them and it is not a part of their deservedness; it is a part of our faith. Remember, everything here is reciprocal when we are living on the intentional side. There is a reason for God saying we need to quickly forgive. We need to pray for those who mistreat us. Because that is a part of an intentional life and there is a reciprocal benefit that comes. One is healing; the other is forgiveness, protecting us from being permanently damaged; and then there is a blessing.