1 Peter 4:12-19

1 Peter 4:12-19

“Suffering For Jesus”

 

12 Dear friends, do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering,

KJV and the NASB renders this as “the fiery trial which is to try you”. 1 Peter 1:6-7. The image here is that of silver or gold being refined through fire. Silver and Gold are refined through fire – so is our faith. Our faith is made more pure through difficult times, so don’t be surprised at the suffering in your life – regardless of whether it is at the hands of people who are not Christians (as in the case of those to whom Peter wrote), or is suffering of another kind.

 

as though something strange were happening to you.

Greek, “which is taking place for a trial to you.”[1] Peter wrote to people being persecuted, but the suffering Christians go through, all kinds, is not something that just happens. it is MEANT as a way to try your meddle! It is intended to grow your faith and make you draw closer to God. Are you someone who will stand up to the pressure of the trial or will you melt away? John 15:20; Matthew 10:22; John 15:21; 2 Timothy 3:12. If they persecuted Christ, they’ll persecute YOU, a servant of Christ!

 

13 But rejoice that you participate in the sufferings of Christ, 

Notice this! There are two ways of looking at what Peter is saying here. 1) Peter is saying that they were suffering the same KIND of suffering that Jesus went through, or 2) Peter is saying that the suffering they were going through was the same as being part of the suffering that Christ went through! But either way, if you are being ridiculed the same was Christ was, if you are being persecuted the same way Christ was, then you are participating in the suffering Christ suffered. What an image! What a blessing – to be part of what Christ went through! Take a look at Acts 5:41. And when we can recognize it for what it is – participating in the suffering of Christ, then we can find ways to rejoice in being counted worthy! We can turn to Christ and be glad to be where we are, we can rejoice in our suffering rather than be depressed or worried or scared.

 

so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed.

Matthew 5:10-12. If you are being persecuted – if you lost your job, been denied a promotion,, been denied a new job, been kicked out of your family, been made fun of, or any other thing has happened and it was because of who you are – a believer in Christ, then REJOICE! You have been counted worthy of suffering with Christ! I know its hard to find joy in suffering – but that’s only because we focus on the difficulty, we need to focus on Christ! When you have your eyes on Jesus, the rest gets blocked out. When your eyes are on your savior, you wont be bothered by the trivial things of life – and yes, the loss of a job or even a loved one is trivial compared to the importance of Christ in your life. God will provide you what you need and you will see your loved one again – if your loved one was a Christian and you are a Christian!

 

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.

We just read where Jesus himself said we are blessed when we are insulted because of the name of Christ! If GOD said so, then it MUST be true. It doesn’t matter if you don’t FEEL like its true. It doesn’t matter if your HURT or FEAR is overwhelming – focus on Christ. Sometimes we don’t listen to God or recognize what He is doing, but rest assured, God is working things out for the good of those who love Him. If you are insulted or pained because of the name you go by – Christian – then you are assured that the Holy Spirit rests upon 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.

I don’t think most of us are murderers, or thieves – but if you are, then you need to get right with God and take your lumps for it. But notice that Peter puts meddling on the same level as murdering and stealing and all other sorts of crimes. Interesting, is it not? 1 Timothy 5:13. According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, a meddler is “someone who interferes without right in what is not one’s concern.” Are you sticking your nose where it does not belong? Are you getting into people’s business when there really is no problem at all? Romans 14 (esp. verses 1-6 and 11-23). There are certain things that really are of no consequence – some people will think that certain things are wrong, while others have no problem with those things – Paul says we shouldn’t worry about what the other is doing (as long as it is not sin), you take care of your own self and let others take care of their own selves. (As an aside note, there are two caveats: 1) don’t do something to make your brother stumble – Romans 14:13, and 2) don’t let your brother live in sin – James 5:19-20).  What ever is not spoken against in scripture is open for interpretation. But we shouldn’t do anything to cause our own suffering – we should suffer because it is what God wants, not as a consequence of our own sinful actions.

 

16 However, if you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed, but praise God that you bear that name.

Suffering is, by definition, hard. But suffering for what you believe is VERY hard. It makes you doubt. It makes you wonder if its real or if its worth it. I promise you God is real. Christ is real. The fact that God sent his son to become human, suffer, and die for your sins, and be resurrected again is real. If you trust in what Christ has done, you’re your eternal life is also real. What’s a little pain or suffering or even death for the name of your God? If you suffer for Christ, you bring glory to Christ. You should give thanks for the fact that you have something worth suffering for. Glory in the fact that you have Christ as your savior! And BRING glory to God through your life. This is more than glorying in the name, saying “I am a Christian, isn’t it grand?” in a sing-song voice. It is living worthy of it all – as means as to glorify God. If a man is known as a Christian and does not live as one, he dishonors God. To bear the name is to take a responsibility, a great and glorious one, but none the less a very real and important and solemn one.[2]

 

17 For it is time for judgment to begin with the family of God; and if it begins with us, what will the outcome be for those who do not obey the gospel of God?

This “time for judgment” is a specific, planned, thing. The suffering you are going through is not unknown by God or even an accident. Judgment of this world has begun. It began with Christians. If things are so hard for Christians, imagine what it will be like for those who do not believe. John 3:36; 2 Corinthians 5:10; 1 Corinthians 3:10-15. Judgment is two-fold: 1) do you have Christ as your savior and 2) what have you done with your life as a Christian? We will all answer for what we do. If we love Christ, then we will be found not guilty and will only have to answer for what we have done with what God has given us. Our judgment is of what we, as Christians, do. If you do NOT know Christ, it does not really matter what you have done in your life – you will go to hell. It does not matter if you go to church, or if you give to the poor, or if you give to the church, or if you do thousands of good things – if you do not know Christ, then your judgment will be guilty and it will be final, and the results will eternal death.

 

18 And, “If it is hard for the righteous to be saved, what will become of the ungodly and the sinner?”

Proverbs 11:31 – Peter is quoting the Septuagint version of this passage. The idea is that while we might suffer in this life, imagine what will happen to those who do not trust what God has done. Matthew 19:16-26. Jesus pinpointed where this man was not following God – for him it was riches, for others it might be a person, for others it might be something else. The man went away sad because he did not want to prove he had followed what God had said – he did not want to give up the life he had for the life that will come. Are YOU following Christ, or are you pretending? It IS hard to follow Christ. Its not about doing the right kinds of thing – its about being the right kind of person. If you are the right kind of person, you will do the right kinds of things. Perfection is required to enter life – to enter heaven. If you have Christ, then HIS perfection is put to your account. Trust Christ. Prove you trust him by letting him change you.  Luke 13:22-30. Jesus himself said many people are trying to get into heaven, but only a few will actually make it. And if you wait too long, the door will be closed.  Revelation 20:11-15. Not everyone will be saved. In fact, If your name is not written in the book of life, you will be going to the other place.

 

19 So then, those who suffer according to God’s will should commit themselves to their faithful Creator and continue to do good. [3]

Luke 23:46. Jesus committed HIS spirit to the father – he did what the father wanted him to do. You need to be committed to God and do what he wants you to do. 1 Corinthians 10:13; Ephesians 4:24; Colossians 3:10; Romans 8:28. The fact of the matter is that we all suffer temptation. We all suffer different things. We all suffer in different ways. Some of us suffer physical pain. Some of us suffer emotional pain. Some of us suffer depression. All of us suffer. But if you are suffering according to God’s will, it’s a good thing. Commit yourself to God and do good. Commit yourself to becoming to the person God wants you to become. Focus on God, and the suffering (as long as it is not of your OWN making) will count for something. Don’t be distracted by the things of the world. Don’t be distracted by the things you are suffering. Do not be distracted by the desires you used to have. Do not be distracted by the desires you have now. Focus on GOD. Become who God wants you to become. And prove your commitment to God by what you do and how you live.


[1] Jamieson, R., Fausset, A. R., Fausset, A. R., Brown, D., & Brown, D. (1997). A commentary, critical and explanatory, on the Old and New Testaments. On spine: Critical and explanatory commentary. (1 Pe 4:13). Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.

[2] (4:16) G. Campbell Morgan, Searchlights from the Word, p. 366.

[3]The Holy Bible : New International Version. 1996, c1984 (electronic ed.) (1 Pe 4:12). Grand Rapids: Zondervan.

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