Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult, but with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing. (1 Pet. 3:9)

“YOU’RE A FAT, SLIMY TOAD.” Joey sneered at his once best friend.

Timmy’s face reddened. With hands on hips, he tossed the insult back. “Well you smell like a trash can.”

“Oh, yeah? Well your family should live in a barn.”

Joey’s dad rushed to put a stop to the insults the two boys slung at each other. Bending to their eye level with a hand on each shoulder, he made them apologize and shake hands.

Most adults are not as obvious in their insulting exchanges as Joey and Timmy were. We have learned to be more subtle in giving offence: We talk behind each other’s back, make facial gestures off to the side, or offer a cold shoulder and stiff smile. However, the sting of these insults is just as hurtful and can leave scars. Insulting words and actions can injure for a long, long time. Perhaps you are still healing from a harsh criticism spoken in haste years ago. Or maybe you have residual guilt over words you spoke to someone else.

Peter reminded us that God is watching and listening to what we say to each other, be it face-to-face or behind the scenes. As Jesus said in His Sermon on the Mount, to love others, even in the face of evil, is the best recourse for the Christian.

Speak kindly to someone who has wounded you.

Julie B. Cosgrove is a widowed Christian author and speaker who lives in Fort Worth, Texas. She is involved with women’s and outreach ministries.