THE SUFFERING OF THE SAINTS
1 Peter 3: 8-13
Peter comes back to the theme of suffering. He gives his readers’ perspective by reminding them of who they are – strangers and the elect. He tells them how they ought to live and respond in the face of suffering, how to respond to anyone in authority. And he circles back to this theme because he knows it's something they contend with daily!
OUR RESPONSE IN THE FACE OF TRAILS
V8. Finally, all of you, be like-minded (live in harmony with one another), be sympathetic, love one another, be compassionate and humble. 9 Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult. On the contrary, repay evil with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing.
Peter, in the face of suffering, encourages the saints to live in harmony with one another, be sympathetic, love as brothers, be compassionate, and be humble!
FINALLY – Teleos – The principal aim or end goal is the above. Peter tells them to be alert in their minds, to get rid of any double lifestyle, he tells them how to respond to all kinds of authorities with humility and submission. In view of all this (finally) live in harmony (1 Pet 1:22 – love each other deeply from the heart)
LIKE-MINDED/UNITY OF MIND/HARMONY/SINGLE-MINDED
Do nothing out of selfish ambition or empty pride, but in humility consider others more important than yourselves. (Phil 2:3)
Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud but enjoy the company of the lowly. Do not be conceited
HARMONY: One mind – One mind of Christ (1 Cor2:16) To be of one mind we need to know the mind of Christ, to know that we need to know the Word. And a part of that is being of one mind with the body of believers you are united to. We are all unique and we are all a part of one body therefore have the same DNA at the core of each cell.
HOW IS THIS LIKE-MINDEDNESS DEMONSTRATED?
Peter lists out four ways: be sympathetic, love one another, be compassionate and humble. –
Sympathetic – the more accurate word is Empathy. Sympathy is an emotion where you feel sad for the person. Empathy is to have an accurate understanding of what the person is going through and identify with the pain. Are we aware of what our brothers and sisters are going through? Send them a text, call, do something.
Love as brothers We cannot say we love God and hate our brothers. We are called to love sacrificially and reciprocally. Both are needed. Jn13:35 By this shall all men know you are my disciples if you have love one for another.
Love is also demonstrated in a commitment to our local church. Are you faithful? Can you be counted in and counted upon i.e., do you belong here? And can you be called upon to serve?
The Greek word for tenderhearted is “good -gut” – the inference is good emotions. Have a good feel for what is going on. We can only have the right emotional response if we know the Father's heart. It is a response of grace.
Some translations say “courteous” – humble-mindedness. You can only be courteous if you have a sober judgement of yourself. Only then can you treat others better than yourself. First, realize how much you have been forgiven before judging others. It will make you more patient with other’s shortcomings and failures.
V9. 9 Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult. On the contrary, repay evil with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing.
Again, Pete gives a principle of how to respond when you are badly treated by both Christians and non-Christians alike. Do NOT do evil or repay evil with evil. He shows them that the blessing we receive (or walking in favour with God) is contingent upon how we behave. He reminds them of the Torah. (Ps 34:12-16- Keep your tongue from evil, seek peace, the Lord opposes those who do evil. He listens to the righteous) Does this not remind you of someone else saying this? Peter is referring to Jesus' teaching in the Sermon on the Mount.
“It is not without significance that the disciples are to be known by their love, the world by its hatred.” (Morris)
This is the response of a mature Christian. They will not retaliate when someone does evil to them. This is such a hard thing to follow, and one might feel that people take advantage of it. Peter is referring to being mistreated for the sake of the gospel.
The context is suffering for your faith. Yes, if injustice is done to you at your workplace, you can address it through the proper channels. If someone is physically, or mentally sexually abused you must report it. There are laws in place for your protection. If someone violates your trust, you must forgive but you are not required to entrust them again until they can prove themselves faithful. If someone is trying to manipulate you need to either talk to the person or stand up against it.
13 Who is going to harm you if you are eager to do good? Verse 13 is a rhetorical question. Who will harm you if you do good? Meaning if you have done evil and you are harmed you have only got what was coming to you.
14 But even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed. “Do not fear their threats[b]; do not be frightened.” V14 Be ready to suffer even if you have done the right thing. Another translation says – Do not be afraid of their threats but in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. This is in contrast to verse 13. IF you suffer for good you suffer for God. (It sounds like Peter is saying something to these Christians. Were they bringing trouble upon themselves because of the way they were behaving and then saying oh we are being persecuted because of our faith!) Sometimes we can bring it on ourselves for our unwise behaviour (When we argue with relatives over religion, we lose the relationship).
The godly will suffer! This is a sharp contrast to the prosperity preachers who wrongly use Psalm 91 saying no harm will befall them. Jesus never said you will never suffer. In fact, he said if they have persecuted me, they will persecute you as well.
WHAT IS OUR RESPONSE?
1 Pet 2:20 But how is it to your credit if you receive a beating for doing wrong and endure it? But if you suffer for doing good and you endure it, this is commendable before God. 21 To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps.
Peter uses the word “strange was happening to you”. He tells them that they are strangers in the world, strangers to this culture but they should not be strangers to suffering.
13 But rejoice in as much as you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed. 14 If you are insulted because of the name of Christ, you are blessed, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you. 15 If you suffer, it should not be as a murderer or thief or any other kind of criminal, or even as a meddler.
Peter is not saying that they should rejoice for being persecuted or for suffering. He is saying rejoice that you get the honour to suffer for the sake of Christ. Rejoice in.
See the apostle's response to suffering.
Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature, having escaped the corruption in the world caused by evil desires. 2Pet1:4
Paul also talks about suffering as being light and momentary compared to the glory that we will partake of when Jesus is revealed. Brothers and sisters let us have an eternity perspective. Let living for eternity be that guiding star that keeps us from being distracted or discouraged.
1 Pet 4:17-19 ( READ)
What a strange set of words to tag at the end of a passage on suffering. Christians will not face the Great white throne of judgement (our faith will not be judged; our works will be). However here on earth, God will discipline us if we do not mend our wayward ways. And that ought to make us think soberly about our lives. So many Christian leaders in the last few years have given in to moral failure. This happens when we lose the fear of God and become casual about His love and Grace to the point of abuse and neglect. Let us be careful about how we live.
Once again, He reminds us that if we are suffering for our faith, we need to trust God with our lives and not stop doing good.
Word of Grace is an Evangelical (Born Again), Spirit-filled (Charismatic), Reformed, English-speaking in Pune that upholds the Bible as God's inspired Word for life. We are a church community that has people from every part of India and parts of the world. We are here to put the Great Command and the into practice by equipping and releasing every member into works of service. Word of Grace is part of a wider international family of Churches called RegionsBeyond.To know about us please log onto www.wordofgracechurch.org.