Friday, October 1, 2010

Suffering for Righteousness Sake

But even if you should suffer for righteousness’ sake, you are blessed. “And do not be afraid of their threats, nor be troubled.” But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear; having a good conscience, that when they defame you as evildoers, those who revile your good conduct in Christ may be ashamed. For it is better, if it is the will of God, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil. (1 Peter 3:14-17)

Since not everything in the world functions as it should, even those who do God’s will may undergo suffering. When Peter said if we should suffer "for righteousness’ sake", he is saying that believers should make certain that when they suffer it is only because they have served God faithfully and not because they have done anything wrong (1 Peter 4:14, 15). Then Peter states, "you are blessed." indicating that God specially honors those who suffer for doing what is right (see Matt. 5:10–12).

But what does Peter mean when he states, "sanctify the Lord God..."? Peter is saying that believers should acknowledge the eternal holiness of Christ by revering Him as the Lord of the universe who is in control of all things. Peter then goes on to say, "to give a defense..." Here Peter assumes that the Christian faith will be falsely accused. Peter therefore encourages Christians to have rational answers to respond to those false accusations. You may not be able to keep people from slandering you, but you can at least stop supplying them with ammunition. As long as you do what is right, their accusations will be empty and will only embarrass them.

It is very important for a believer to keep their conduct above criticism! Some Christians believe that faith is a personal matter that should be kept to oneself. It is true that we shouldn't be boisterous or obnoxious in sharing our faith, but we should always be ready to give an answer, gently and respectfully, when asked about our faith, our life-style, or our Christian perspective. Peter uses the words, "with meekness and fear;" Meekness is the same term translated gentle in 1 Peter 3: 4. Meekness is not weakness. Scripture indicates that both Moses and Christ were meek men; however, they were certainly not weak men. Fear implies a high degree of reverence or respect. Rather than fear our enemies, we are to quietly trust in God as the Lord of all. We must believe that Christ is truly in control of all events. When He rules our thoughts and emotions, we cannot be shaken by anything our enemies may do to us.

Peter then uses the phrase, "For it is better," Here; Peter is not encouraging believers to seek out situations in which they will experience suffering. Instead, he is saying that believers should make certain that when they suffer it is the result of having been faithful to God rather than because they have done evil (see 1 Peter 2:19, 20). Peter concludes with the phrase, "if it is the will of God," Peter wants his listeners to know that suffering may be part of God’s perfect and wise plan for a believer (see Matt. 5:10–12).

Father God, it is my prayer to sanctify You in my heart, mind and soul. Lord give me the wisdom and courage to always be ready to give a defense to anyone who questions the blessed hope that I have in You. Thank you Lord for shedding Your blood for me on the cross so I could have eternal life with You. My heart goes out to those who still have no hope because they refuse Your free gift of salvation. Lord I continue to thank you for all of the blessings You have given to me and my family. I pray this all in Your Holy and precious name. Amen.

References: NKJV Holy Bible, Life Application Bible (NIV), the Nelson Study Bible.


Lisa said...

Thank you for this post...I am currently in a situation where God has shown me it is time to let go and forgive, make right a particular wrong. Unfortunately some in my family are still non-believers and question my actions and my faith. I continue to do what God puts in my heart and mind to do, in spite of the ridicule I meet. It does hurt to be ridiculed by the ones you love but then I would rather do what I know I must faith is the God's perfect plan for me.
I continue to pray for the ones who do not know God yet...that they will come to know Him.
Right now I have done everything the Lord has asked me to in this particular situation and I feel at peace...if He asks anymore of me I will be ready to act and do whatever it is.
God Bless and thank you again for this post.

lioneagle said...

Greetings Lloyd -

Thank you for this message of truth. We must suffer with Christ to reign with Him. He is there to help us and He keeps His promise to give us rest.

Thank GOD that greater is He that is in us than he that is in the world.

Philippians 3:10 (KJV)
That I may know him,and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death;

Romans 8:18 (KJV)
For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.

2 Thessalonians 1:6 (KJV)
Seeing it is a righteous thing with God to recompense tribulation to them that trouble you;

Galatians 5:10 (KJV)
...but he that troubleth you shall bear his judgment, whosoever he be.

dfish said...

As Paul told Timothy, "Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution," in II Timothy 3:12. It is going to occur if we serve the Lord.

leila said...

i read your entries. it is inspiring to know that there are people like you who can be Barnabas to fellow Christians. God be praised!

Judy said...

Hello Lloyd,

Suffering for righteousness sake is tough. I have some experience with that. I've often read that verse in the midst of the suffering and would often feel not very blessed. But it was comforting to know that when I was suffering for being a Christian, the spirit of God was resting upon me. That's what helped me get through those difficult times.


Lloyd said...

Lisa - My prayers go out to you. I think that everyone who is a believer has non-believers in their families so you are not alone. Forgiveness is probably one of the toughest things to overcome but God does require it of His children. Praise the Lord that you have the joy, peace and love that only Jesus can give us. Blessings too you.

lioneagle- So true are the words, "Greater is He that is in us than he that is in the world." Thank you so much for your visit and scriptures that you have shared with us. God bless.

dfish - Thank you for sharing scripture from the book of Timothy. It is so true that if you are a true follower of our Lord Jesus, then you will suffer persecution for His name sake. Jesus suffered for us when He died on the cross so the least I can do is live for Him no matter the cost I most pay. Blessings to you my brother in Christ.

Leila - Thank you for such a generous compliment, however everything I do or say goes to the glory of our Lord. Blessings to you.

Judy - I want to thank you for sharing your heartfelt testimony with us. God will never let us go no matter what the circumstances are. Blessings too you my sister in Christ.

Protoprotestant said...

There are of course several key issues of doctrine which expose false teachers.

There are also a few practical ones. Suffering is definitely one of the first one's I look for.

As we die to ourselves, and live as citizens of the Kingdom of Heaven, this world will persecute us. If it's not in some form...then something's wrong. It doesn't mean they have to be kicking down our door...but there ought to be some antithesis. For many this consists of things like clothes or hairstyles. Sadly, they miss the Biblical concept of antithesis...our minds are to be renewed, our whole lives are transformed. This will show. We will bear some kind of fruit even if miniscule.

With that comes suffering. Anyone who denies suffering is part of the Christian propagating a false gospel.

Glad to see you're upholding the truth. God bless.

JT said...

This is another great post. May God Bless You.

marcello said...

Thank you very much for this message that is so inspiring!
May God bless you and you family!
Stay in peace my friend!

MTJ said...

Hi Lloyd,

Thanks for sharing an excellent post. In light of scandals which seem to make the news regarding church leaders, it's critically important that all Christians live and conduct themselves in a manner that honors Christ.

As you indicate, "...believers should make certain that when they suffer it is only because they have served God faithfully and not because they have done anything wrong..."

Blessings and peace.


Patrina's Pencil said...

Thanks, Lloyd, for visiting the bridge - I appreciate your place here. Full of truth. God bless you for sharing the truth.

Suffering is a part of my current season - but God is good and He is making sense of it day by day. That doesn't mean that it is easy - but The Lord is growing me for my next season. He's purifying and refining me through this difficult place. His grace covers me even in my failure to respond in a positive way to this current season. Suffering is hard - but my heart is focused on God and His goodness is faithful.

Thanks for sharing

Patrina <")>><

Velvet Over Steel said...

I've been in these situations and have grown, learned so much from each of them... with God's help, grace and love!

Thank you for sharing just a wonderful post!!! So needed!! :-)

Blessings & Big Hug,