1 Peter #11 1 Peter 3:13-17 Suffering—The Need for a Bigger Picture to Endure
1 Peter #11 1 Peter 3:13-17 Suffering—The Need for a Bigger
Picture to Endure
previous teaching, we learned that it is expected that those who are keeping in
step with the Holy Spirit will see that their task in this life is to bless
others. The Psalmist advises the same thing:
34:12-16. “Whoever wants to embrace life
and see the day fill up with good, Here’s what you do: Say nothing evil or
hurtful; Snub evil and cultivate good; run after peace for all you're
worth. God looks on all this with
approval, listening and responding well to what he's asked; But he turns his
back on those who do evil things.”
we delve into the Word distinctions need to be made concerning suffering. Peter's
letter addresses what to do when you are suffering because of your faith in
Christ. You have taken a stand, and that stand is not culturally
acceptable. Because others know you are
a Christian you are being persecuted. Peter also addressed what he called
unjust suffering, what to do if you are being treated poorly or even abusively
by someone else; this was specifically addressed to slaves. You can see how these two types of suffering
can overlap. There is a third type of
suffering that happens because we live in a world with people who are not as
God intended. Natural disasters, diseases,
accidents, birth defects, and evil all can create suffering in our lives. You
are not suffering because of your faith.
For instance, there is an abusive relationship within the home. You don’t endure convincing yourself that
it’s God’s will. Instead, you take
action, get out of harm’s way, and then use the suffering you redeem it by making
a difference in the world. Mothers Against Drunk Driving is the result of
suffering used to make a difference.
Megan’s Law is another. The Child Abuse Prevention & Treatment Act
is yet another. The Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation is another
difference maker that was born in suffering. Joni Eareckson Tada comes to mind
turning her quadriplegia into a platform for ministering to millions. We might call this type of suffering natural
suffering. The type of suffering that
Peter is advising us about is the Sufferings of Christ. Disciples all take part
in the Sufferings of Christ, persecuted for telling the truth and doing good.
lesson today, Peter focuses our attention on being persecuted for doing good
and what a believer's response is to be when they face opposition to the
faith. Further, Peter tells us to be
ready to give an intelligent testimony concerning why we are believers. This
teaching of Peter rests on the requirement of living an exemplary life, a life
of holiness. If that is the intent of
your heart, let’s get into the Word.
heart and soul you're doing good, do you think you can be stopped? Even if you
suffer for it, you're still better off. Don't give the opposition a second
thought. Through thick and thin, keep your hearts at attention, in adoration
before Christ, your Master. Be ready to speak up and tell anyone who asks why
you're living the way you are, and always with the utmost courtesy. Keep a clear
conscience before God so that when people throw mud at you, none of it will
stick. They'll end up realizing that they're the ones who need a bath. It's
better to suffer for doing good, if that's what God wants than to be punished
for doing bad.
Peter asks a very interesting rhetorical
question. The simple answer is “no;” no one
can stop you if you are set on doing good. Yet there are many stories of men
and women living exemplary lives persisting in doing good being killed. Jesus is an example. Not as drastic there are stories of the
government stopping people from distributing food to the poor without a
license. So, to truthfully answer that question “no,” you must look in hope to
the faithfulness of God. Doing something with heart and soul means you are
dedicated and passionate about the good you are doing. If you are stopped in your endeavors then you
must trust that God will use those efforts to bring about some good.
why we can be so sure that every detail in our lives of love for God is worked
into something good.
they kill you because of your good deeds, they, whoever they are, can’t stop
the influence of your actions on the world around you. The film “End of the
Spear” is a story about Jim Elliot and his companions who are murdered by
tribesmen in the jungles of Ecuador and how that stopping of good eventually
became a blessing to many. God can do
amazing things with our disasters.
most part, Peter is telling us if we have set ourselves to do good, people
generally appreciate it. They recognize
your selflessness. But if they don’t and you end up suffering because of your
loving service to others Peter says you're still in good shape. Again, we have to take a larger view looking
in hope at the faithfulness of God. Jesus
told us: "You're blessed when your
commitment to God provokes persecution. The persecution drives you even deeper
into God's kingdom” (Matthew 5:10 (MSG).
When you suffer for the faith you depend upon God that much more, you spend
more time in prayer, and you become more steadfast in your obedience. You practice the 7 habits of a disciple*
stringently and diligently and you know that such practice invites encounters
with God. Living with the sense of God’s approval is a blessing. Plus, many times you see your efforts making
a difference in the lives of others and that’s a blessing. Jesus tells us why you can be glad in this
type of suffering: “You can be glad when that happens—give a cheer, even! —for
though they don't like it, I do! And all heaven applauds. And know that you are
in good company. My prophets and witnesses have always gotten into this kind of
trouble” (Matthew 5:12 (MSG). When you
suffer for righteousness’s sake you take your place with the highly commended of
God. Your spiritual position is with the
prophets, the witnesses, the saints, and the martyrs. Your spiritual position is with Jesus who
suffered for righteousness’s sake. Such a realization is a blessing, a
consolation, for you know that you are being persecuted for God’s Kingdom and
this empowers you to keep on keeping on as you trust God for the outcome of
your labor of love. Selflessness only comes when there is great love in your
heart. Gentlemen, instead of great love, you may prefer to think of “duty and
honor.” Selflessness sometimes means
suffering for the good of others, and this is exactly what Jesus did.
let the fear of others, the fear of persecution for standing up for what is right
stop you from doing good. Be a good
citizen, follow the rule of law, live an exemplary life, life to the full (John
10:10), and don’t allow the ungodly to threaten you into disobeying God. Instead, give your full allegiance to
Jesus. When the scripture refers to
Jesus as Lord, that’s exactly what it means. Lord is the title given to one who
has authority, and power, and is in charge. When believers call Jesus Lord, it
is a declaration of devotion and respect.
To call Jesus Lord is to bend the knee to Jesus. The bent knee is a demonstration of your
loyalty and allegiance, a sign of your submission, of your subservience, to His
will and His way. It means you are “all” in with Jesus regardless of the
circumstances. To call Jesus your Lord is to affirm His supremacy in your life.
Don’t delude yourself, your proclamation demands obedience.
everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but
only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on
that day, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive
out demons and perform many miracles?' Then I will tell them plainly, 'I never
knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!'
God is both Father and Judge, and Jesus is both Friend and Lord (Proverbs
19:16). One day everyone, believer or
not, will give an account of how they lived their earthly lives (Matthew 12:36,
Romans 14:12, Revelation 20). Believers
back up their profession of faith with deeds of righteousness. Make sure your heart is always in the right
place and you have placed Jesus in the center of your heart.
will see you doing good in the name of Jesus and if they don’t try to stop you,
they may ask why you are doing what you are doing. Peter writes: “ Be ready to speak up and tell
anyone who asks why you're living the way you are and always with the utmost
courtesy” (1 Peter 3:15 (MSG). “Why
aren’t you laughing with the sinners instead of crying with the saints?”
[paraphrase: Billy Joel, Only the Good Die Young] “Christians are not required
to know the answer to every theological question someone might ask regarding
the Christian faith. But they should be
able to provide an intelligent account of what they believe and what they have
experienced” (Powers, p. 117). That
intelligent answer is your testimony.
This is your story of how you came to believe and why now you are doing
the things you do. It’s the story of
the hope you have in this life and the next. If you are not ready to tell
someone about your experience with Jesus, then get busy and prepare, it might
help to write down your thoughts.
Imagine someone asking you “why are you a Christian?” Practice your
answer. Peter advises that our answer
must be given with the utmost respect for the one listening. There is no
argument to win, it's just you, telling someone why you have the hope in Christ
that you do. “This was my life before I became a believer, this is my life
after becoming a believer, and I do what I do out of gratitude.” They may laugh
at you, call you ignorant, or superstitious, or give you a thousand reasons why
what you believe is a fairy tale. Just
thank them for their concern and tell them regardless, that you are going to
continue to love others with the love God has lavished upon you. It just might
be that your intelligent and gentle answer wins them to the Lord.
an exemplary life you keep a clear conscience. A clear conscience means you
practice what you preach (1 John 4:20).
A clear conscience means you handled a situation properly, and you did
what God wanted to be done (James 1:22).
A clear conscience means you have done your best to clean up your messes
(Romans 12:18). If you did not live up to the high standards of holiness in
your interactions with others you ask the one you offended to forgive you, you
may have to compensate them for what was done (Matthew 5:23-24). Then you can ask God to forgive you (1 John
1:9). That’s how to clear your conscience. If you are having problems with
nagging guilt, on January 29th of this year Dr. Mike Pratt’s
presentation Freedom From Guilt will help you.
You’ll find this teaching online on our website www.hbcc.life and our YouTube channel hbcc
life. The bottom line is a clear
conscience convinces you that you’ve done no wrong, or what you did wrong you
made right. The reason for keeping a
clear conscience is so that when you are accused of wrongdoing, your reputation
is like Teflon, and the accusation doesn’t stick. What’s more, God may use
their slander to wake them up to the condition of their souls.
never found myself in a suffering situation when I thought, this is good, God
is doing something extraordinary. Peter
tells us it's better to suffer for doing good than doing evil, doing what is
contrary to the way of love. That makes sense, I rather suffer because I am
doing God’s will rather than suffer because I created some kind of a mess. A key to handling righteous suffering is
having the faith that God is accomplishing something good from your pain. It’s
impossible to see at the moment. But you
get through, you endure, because you trust God to use you to make a difference
in the world. We’ll explore this thought in greater detail next time.
what you can take home from this teaching.
1. There are different types of suffering. There is persecution suffering, there is natural suffering, and there is suffering from disobedience. Peter has addressed how to handle the persecution that comes from living an exemplary life. Never surrender your loyalty, keeping your fidelity to the Lord is to be preeminent.