For what credit is there if, when you sin and are harshly treated, you endure it with patience? But if when you do what is right and suffer for it you patiently endure it, this finds favor with God.1 Peter 2:20(NASB)
The central theme in the book of first Peter is HOPE for the Christian in the midst of tremendous suffering. The early Church were plagued with significant persecution and pain. They were imprisoned for their faith. They were slandered and ridiculed, and they were hated and abused for the sake of Jesus Christ.
The apostle Peter wrote his encouraging letter, to remind us of our position in Christ and the living hope we have in Him. He urges us to remember the wonderful joy in the Lord that is ours, by trusting Jesus Christ as Saviour. And he exhorts us to appropriate all that is ours in Him and to translate this into our everyday life so that we are enabled to greatly rejoice in the God of our salvation - even in the midst of tremendous suffering and pain.
We are called to follow in the footsteps of our Lord and Saviour and to be holy... for He is holy. And we are joyfully reminded that we are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation and living stones that are being built up into a hallowed habitation for our God - so that we may declare the praise of Him Who called us out of darkness into His glorious light.
And amidst the apostle's instruction to all of us, whether we be servants or those in authority, we are called to conduct ourselves in a manner that is honouring to the Lord. We are to bear the burdens of each day without complaint - and we are even exhorted to accept unjust suffering without complaining, for when we suffer unjustifiably, we gain the approval of our Heavenly Father.
The normal response when things in life are unfair is to retaliate or to try to vindicate ourselves, and yet Peter points out that there is no glory when we are buffeted for our faults. He argues that there is no credit when we are harshly treated because of our own wrongdoing. "What glory is there," he argues, "when you are punished for your sin?" You can't expect to be praised for your transgressions!
"However," he adds, "when you do what is right and suffer for it, without complaining.. and patiently endure it, this finds favour in the eyes of the Lord." For God approves of the one that suffers for righteousness sake.
In His Sermon on the Mount, the Lord Jesus Himself teaches: "Blessed are those which are persecuted for righteousness sake," while in Luke He adds: "Blessed are ye, when men shall hate you, and when they shall separate you from their company, and shall reproach you, and cast out your name as evil, for the Son of man's sake."
It is often hard to go through unjustifiable suffering and persecution for the sake of Christ, but Peter wanted to teach us that no matter what situation we are in, it is not only important to be good and gentle, but to be prepared to suffer wrongfully - for when we are moved by our consciences to honour God in this way, it is a fine and honourable thing to do in the sight of the Lord.
If, for Christ's sake, we endure wrongful suffering, it is an honourable thing. Christian persecution honours the Lord, for God approves of the one that suffers for righteousness sake. Obviously, there is no glory when we are buffeted for our faults! However, if we suffer for doing the right thing and accept it with grace and patience, God is pleased with us and honoured by our life.
May we be willing to suffer with patience for our God and Saviour in these perilous times, knowing that this brings honour to His name. And let us remember what the apostle Paul wrote: "For if we suffer for Christ, we shall also reign with Him." HALLELUJAH! "For our light affliction and unjustifiable suffering for Christ's sake, will only last for a moment, but will work for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, and bring honour to our Father in heaven." HALLELUJAH!
Heavenly Father, thank You for this truth. There is a big part of me that does not want to suffer but I thank You that Your grace is sufficient, no matter what unjustifiable suffering and persecution I may have to face. Thank You that in Christ I have all I need to endure suffering with godly patience. Help me to appropriate all that is mine in Christ Jesus my Lord and to translate this into my everyday life so that I am enabled to greatly rejoice in the God of my salvation - even in the midst of tremendous suffering and pain. In Jesus' name I pray, AMEN.
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