Make sure that none of you suffers as a murderer, or thief, or evildoer, or a troublesome meddler;1 Peter 4:15(NASB)
We are to live a life that honours the Lord Jesus Who bought us. And just as He honoured His Father, by suffering on our account, we are to be similarly motivated to live for Christ and do only those things that honour Him - especially as the time for His return daws ever closer.
We are to be clothed in the armour of God and to resist the evil one. We are to live by faith and to walk in spirit and truth. We are to put to death the deeds of the flesh and be clothed in the righteousness of Christ. We are to be watchful in prayer, live in the unity of the Spirit, and have a fervent love for all our brothers and sisters in Christ.
Before our salvation, we were dead in our sin and at enmity with God. We were children of darkness who engaged in all sorts of ungodly behaviours and worldly sensuality. But as a good steward of the manifold grace of God... through faith in Christ, Peter urges us to live a God-honouring life, reminding us that as a soldier of Christ we should not be surprised when we suffer for His sake, but consider it both a privilege and an honour.
Having reminded us that the time for behaving like unsaved Gentiles is behind us and living for God should be our priority, Peter gives a very important perspective on suffering for Christ. "Beloved," he entreats us, "don't be surprised at the fiery ordeal you go through, as if something strange were happening. It is designed to test your faith - to the degree with which you share in the sufferings of Christ."
Suffering is not strange, we are told by Peter in this passage. Indeed, Jesus told us that in this world we would certainly go through trials and tribulation - as did Paul and the other apostles. Suffering should be understood as part of a normal Christian life and when we understand and accept this, our whole attitude towards suffering will change.
If we could simply alter our outlook and accept that the persecution of Christians in this world honours Christ and that any suffering we endure for righteousness’s sake brings glory to our Father in heaven... then we would be able to rejoice in the midst of our suffering, knowing that name of Christ is lifted up and the Spirit of glory rests upon us!
Suffering for righteousness’ sake brings glory to Christ, but when we suffer for our unrighteous deeds or bring condemnation on ourselves because of some ungodly behaviour, we bring no honour to our heavenly Father and Peter exhorts us in this verse, "Make sure that none of you suffers as a murderer, or thief, or evildoer, or a troublesome meddler."
In this verse Peter lists a few of the dishonourable ways that cause a Christian to go through suffering and shame. Unrighteous deeds must be punished, and although the sins of every believer... past, present, and future, are forgiven at the Cross, there are serious consequences for Christians to face when we bring suffering upon ourselves, due to our own, foolish wrong-doings. The only suffering and shame that brings glory to God is when we are persecuted for Christ - when we suffer for righteousness’ sake.
Although Peter specifically mentions the suffering and shame that results from murder or theft, and warns against committing ANY evil deed or disgracing ourselves as a troublesome meddler, he makes it clear in the context of the entire passage, that ALL works of unrighteousness dishonour the Lord Who bought us.
Our time of earth is very fleeting in comparison with the eternal state that awaits all who are saved by grace through faith. How vital, therefore, to take to heart the perspective on suffering that Peter presents in this verse. May we be sure that whatever we do, in thought, word, or deed, we do only for the glory of our God and Saviour, Jesus Christ.
Heavenly Father, thank you for the important perspective Peter gives about suffering for righteousness’ sake. As I face the inevitable problems and persecution that are the 'birth-right' of all Christians in this fallen world, help me to recognise that I am having a share in the sufferings of Christ Who continues to be despised and rejected by this world - a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. Thank You that He died to pay the price for my sin and broke the power of sin and death in my life. I pray that I may eschew all evil works of darkness and honour His name in ALL I say and do, from this day forward and for evermore. In Jesus' name I pray, AMEN.
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