Friday, September 18, 2015

What Good is Suffering?

1 Peter 3:13-15

Who is going harm you if you are eager to do good? 14 But even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed. “Do not fear their threats; do not be frightened.” 15 But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect

Normally verse 15, "always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give you the reason for the hope you have", is used as a an evangelistic verse as you share what you believe with others who don't know Christ. While this is an implication of this passage, given the context it is nuanced differently. The context is when others did evil to the early believers and persecuted them for their faith, here is how they should respond. Yesterday he told them they should return evil with good. Today, he says even if you suffer for doing what is right, you are blessed.

When they are suffering for doing good, he tells them to always be prepared to give a reason for their faith. Literally the words means "apology" or "defense". So why would this be given in context of their suffering and Peter's previous instructions? What does suffering have to do with defending our faith? So here is my take. When you are suffering for doing something good and don't look for revenge, people realize there is something different about you. And they want to know why you aren't retaliating? It is at this time we need to be ready to share the hope within us, even if it seems hopeless. But notice it says to do so with gentleness and respect. We don't meet anger with anger, but gentleness and respect.

Suffering is never fun, especially for doing something that is in essence good. After all, this is unjust. But God can use suffering to bring about change. God can use evil to bring about good. The worst things in our lives can be a platform for the grace of God. Suffering might bring people to you who want to know makes you tick. How did you not return evil with evil? This is when you need to be prepared to give an answer for the hope you have within you. This is how God can turn all things together for good.

Are you suffering for doing good? Be ready to give an answer to those who want to know why. This is the clearest testimony of the Good News, and how Jesus handled His own suffering for the salvation of all the world, including you and me!

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