blessing in suffering

Have you ever been slandered, bullied, or made fun of for doing the right thing? For being a Christian? Suffering for doing good or not being like for being a Christian is normal. The hard part is responding well to this kind of suffering. This is why Peter shares some ways to bless to others while suffering.

Respond in the way others least expect

Sometimes people are mean, they say mean things and do mean things. Even people in the church may treat you wrongly, but contrast their meanness by expressing a unity of mind, sympathy, brotherly love, tender heart and humility (vs.8-9). When you respond this way it will deflect evil and show others the attitude of Christ.

“Finally, all of you, have unity of mind, sympathy, brotherly love, a tender heart, and a humble mind. Do not repay evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary, bless, for to this you were called, that you may obtain a blessing.” 1 Peter 3:8-9, ESV

Responding by blessings those who inflict suffering doesn’t come natural to us. However, you are called to bless, even in suffering. Our suffering is a picture of Christ’s suffering. It is an occasion to proclaim the gospel, not always in words but in the way you walk through suffering.

Remember what God has already said

The Scriptures are chalked full of promises, even in the midst of suffering (vs.10-12). In Psalm 34, David pens a song while he was on the run from from King Saul. The song helps us to reflect on truth and promises already spoken over us. They are good reminders to rest in while suffering.

“Whoever desires to love life
and see good days,
let him keep his tongue from evil
and his lips from speaking deceit;
let him turn away from evil and do good;
let him seek peace and pursue it.
For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous,
and his ears are open to their prayer.
But the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.” – 1 Peter 3:10-12, ESV

Expect suffering for being a Jesus follower

It is not if, but when. The world currently and historically makes fun of Christians (vs.13-14a). It is normal. It started with Jesus and continues with his followers. The reason for this suffering is that the cross is foolishness to those who don’t know Christ.

“Now who is there to harm you if you are zealous for what is good? But even if you should suffer for righteousness’ sake, you will be blessed.” – 1 Peter 3:13-14a, ESV

Answer suffering with grace

Grace offers others what they do not deserve. When we respond to suffering and slander with grace, it puts our enemies to shame (vs.14b-17). The answer is not heaping more coals onto the fire, but to snuff it out with grace. It is God’s will that we suffer, but also that we suffer graciously. One who has received grace himself can freely give it to others too.

“Have no fear of them, nor be troubled, but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect, having a good conscience, so that, when you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame. For it is better to suffer for doing good, if that should be God’s will, than for doing evil.” – 1 Peter 3:14b-17, ESV

The blessing of suffering is not suffering itself or getting even with those who cause your suffering. When you become a follower of Jesus you put yourself in the way of ridicule and rejection. However, as a Christian you are in good company. The blessing in suffering is helping the world see another way. The way of Jesus and his followers.

 

Questions for Reflection:

  • How can suffering be a blessing?
  • How do people tend to respond when hurt by others? Why would Peter contrast repaying evil with blessing? What does repaying evil with blessing look like? How is this so countercultural? Why is it important to suffer well? How does our response put others to shame? What is the difference between shaming someone and letting your behavior put them to shame?
  • Which of the characteristics in verse 8 do you need to grow in? What are the opposites of these characteristics? How can the Holy Spirit help you to grow in these areas?
  • What does it mean to have unity of mind with other Christians? Does this mean you agree on everything? How is living with others, even in the church an exercise of unity of mind? What important things can all Christians agree on? How can we have unity of mind and what should we do when we don’t?
  • What is the relationship between doing good and suffering? Who receives the blessing for suffering for righteousness? How have you suffered for righteousness sake?
  • What are some temptations you face when suffering for righteousness? What are the consequences of giving into those temptations?
  • How does the gospel help you to understand and deal with suffering for Jesus?
  • How have you received blessing through suffering?
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are you a murderer?

small_img-1Have you ever seen the America’s Most Wanted on TV? It can be frightening to know that the person staring at you in the wanted ad is on the loose, armed and dangerous. Most of us probably don’t know a person who is armed and dangerous. However, you might be more of a murderer than you think.

The Sixth Commandment simply states, “You shall not murder.” (Exodus 20:13) In other words, we do not have the right to take the life of another human (that is wrong). Only God has that right. We are not to take the place of God and decide who will live and who will die. We are made in the image of God; we are the crown of His creation, therefore we are not to diminish the value of human life as to the killing of animals.

The 6th Commands are particularly destructive because there is no real restitution can be made for murder. A murdered human cannot be brought back to life. Even if you have not committed murder don’t sit to comfortably yet. You see, the 10 Commandments are not only to be obeyed in action, but also in attitude. Sin is not only external (actions), but moreover internal (attitudes).

Are You a Fan of Murder? Since the beginning of time humans have been carried knives, spears and guns for the purpose of killing another life. Hollywood spends billions of dollars into movies than make murder an entertainment. We act out killing in video games for pleasure (now I’m a Halo 3 and Call of Duty freak!?). We are fascinated with blood, gore and death. This is all confronted in the 6th Command.

Murder is not only physical, but verbal and mental [Matthew 5:21-22]. When Jesus says we “Raca” someone we are essentially murdering them with our words. “Raca” was an Aramaic term of hatred. If you say that another human is worthless you are essentially saying that they do not deserve to live, they are better off dead. Hateful words are murderous.

The slippery slope of hateful words is sure: unchecked anger leads to rage, rage leads to an out of control tongue (hurtful words, gossip, slander, etc), an out of control tongue leads to out of control actions. These hurtful words are like emptying a feathered pillow from a mountain top. It is easy to let the feathers go, but practically impossible to pick up the damage afterward. Eventually your hateful words will destroy someone.

Have you ever been slain by a slanderer? Have you ever murdered someone with the words that come out of your mouth? Are you are a serial slanderer?

Slander = telling hurtful and hateful words about someone else (usually a lie).
Gossip = telling hurtful and hateful words about someone else (usually a truth).

How do I stop being a murderer with my mouth? We are to put of hurtful words and put on godly ones [Eph.4:22-32; Col.3:8, 12-17]. Hurtful and hateful words can kill a relationship quickly. The Bible says that out speech is a gift from God. Your words can praise God and curse God. They can honor Him or tear relationships apart.

Truth be know, I can say hurtful things to say without thinking about it (little sarcastic comments), for these I need to apologize and change. Some practical steps for changing my murderous mouth are:

1. Confess your murders to God and the person to whom you murdered.
2. Keep you mouth shut and pray (Ps.19:14 “May the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be pleasing to Your eyes…”).
3. My Motto: Jesus, the Word, is the only hope for our words! (John 1:1)