Suffering for Doing Right

KEY VERSE: “If any man suffer as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God on this behalf.” —I Peter 4:16

SELECTED SCRIPTURE: I Peter 3:13-21; 4:12-16

AS FOLLOWERS OF Christ, we are to be a blessing to those around us, mirrors reflecting the example that God has given us in Christ. Peter suggests that this is possible only by sharing with others the hope that enables us to bear life’s greatest difficulties. When we are tested by fiery trials we are to consider Christ’s sufferings and the privilege we have of sharing in them, and the glory will follow.—II Tim. 2:11,12

Our Lord’s sufferings even unto his death on the cross is a wonderful example to his church. We read, “Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit.” (I Pet. 3:18) As the ransom price for Adam, Jesus—unlike the typical animal sacrifices offered annually for Israel’s Atonement Day—needed to be offered only once for the sins of the unjust. (Heb. 9:25-28; Rom. 5:6-9,17-19) Peter explains that Jesus suffered for the purpose of bringing us to God, and that his resurrection guarantees its effectiveness. Jesus’ suffering enables us to come to God through similar suffering and, as a result, we are blessed. “If ye suffer for righteousness sake, happy are ye” (I Pet. 3:14), and, “if ye be reproached for the name of Christ, happy are ye.”—I Pet. 4:14

Inasmuch as we are developed through suffering, Peter tells us we should be eager to do only what is good. (I Pet. 3:13) As the ultimate source of goodness, we look to Jesus, “the author and finisher of our faith … lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds.”—Heb. 12:2,3

Peter says that we may suffer for doing good or for doing evil, and the question becomes, “How do we endure suffering,” especially suffering for righteousness’ sake? Rejoicing is not a normal response to pain and suffering, but when following Christ it leads to a great reward. The Scriptures teach, “As much then as Christ hath suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves likewise with the same mind: for he that hath suffered in the flesh hath ceased from sin.”—I Pet. 4:1

We are to be “partakers of Christ’s sufferings.” (vs. 13) The Greek word translated “partakers” is koinonos and means “a sharer or partner,” and is of the same root as used by the Apostle Paul in describing our joint participation in the Lord’s memorial. (I Cor. 10:16) We want to be partners with Christ, to share in his sufferings in order to share in his resurrection (Phil. 3:10), which is the ‘glory to come’. (I Pet. 5:1) What a great blessing this will be! In order to suffer for what is right, Peter says we must “be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear.” (I Pet. 3:15) This means searching the Scriptures daily and studying to show ourselves approved to God.—Acts 17:11; II Tim. 2:15

We should always be prepared to tell others what Christ means to us, and to make a defense of why we live as we live. This defense is made in “meekness,” which carries the thought of strength under control, and of reverence achieved by sanctifying God in our hearts, rather than having the idea of timidity or of fear. We will not be ashamed for suffering as Christians, but rather we “glorify God on this behalf.”—I Pet. 3:16; I Pet. 4:16

Dawn Bible Students Association
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