It’s easy to “Do Good” when everyone is for you, isn’t it? But what about when you do a “good thing” and you are criticized, laughed at, or punished for it? Doesn’t that make you want to scream … “THAT’S NOT FAIR!” That’s what I want to do.
This week we’ll be studying a passage of Scripture from 1 Peter that will helps us learn how to “rest” in the good, even when the reaction we receive is nothing but BAD! Let’s get started.
Search the Scriptures by reading 1 Peter 3:8-22.
Now let’s do some discovering …
I love how this passage begins … “Finally, all of you.” It’s like Peter is saying, “Okay, we’ve dealt with the submission to authorities and husbands and all of that is really important, but what I’m about to tell you is the most important thing of all.” It’s kind of like me saying that my favorite verse of Scripture is Psalm 37:4, but I also love, Psalm 91:1, but I love, love, love Zechariah 4:6. The truth is, I love all those verses and so many more. What Peter has told us previously is important and what he is telling us in these verses is important. It’s all important! It just made me smile when I read it. 🙂
So … Peter says, “Finally, all of you …” not “some of you or a few of you, but all of you.” Then he gives the list of how we are supposed to respond to others (and if you’ll notice as we go through this list, it has everything to do with the attitude of your heart.)
We are to respond with …
- Unity of mind
- Brotherly love
- A tender heart
- A humble mind
Next Peter tells us what NOT to do:
- Do not repay evil for evil
- Do not repay reviling for reviling
On the contrary, he says … BLESS and you will be BLESSED.
In verses 10-12 Peter quotes an Old Testament reference from Psalm 34:12-16
These verses remind us to keep our tongues and lips from evil and deceit, turn away from evil, and seek peace. Why? Because God is looking for people who will choose to be righteous no matter what – that is precious to Him! But … He will turn away from those who are evil. So when we choose to bless or be a blessing, we will, in turn, be blessed.
In verses 13-17 Peter throws in a twist, though. What if when you “Do Good” you’re persecuted for it? What if you’re criticized, laughed at, made fun of, or punished for your good? How will you respond?
Very plainly he tells us to “have no fear.” He says we are to honor Christ in our hearts and be prepared (when asked) to make a defense, with gentleness and respect, to anyone who asks about the hope we have in us as believers.(verse 15) We are not to fly off the handle, devour our offender with our words, put them in their place, talk about them behind their backs, or repay evil with evil, but rather we are to speak truth to them with gentleness (meekness) and respect.
Finally, in verses 18-22, Peter gives us an example. He points us to the example of Christ. Jesus was fully prepared to go to the cross for us. He was born, walked the earth, performed miracle after miracle, and was the kindest and gentlest person on the face of the planet. Yet, He was persecuted for it. He was reviled by others. He was mocked, beaten, and torn from limb to limb. When asked, He spoke respectfully to all. Other times He did not try to defend, but chose to entrust Himself to the one who judges justly. (1 Peter 2:23) He never retaliated. And even when He hung on a cross, He thought of nothing but unity, sympathy, brotherly love, tender heartedness, and humility. Why? Verse 9 tells us. “… bless, for to this you were called.” Jesus was called to bless, and we are called to bless. And just as everything Jesus did was to point us to His Father, everything we do should point others to Jesus and His Father.
Even in persecution, even when we don’t like it, even when it’s not fair, when it’s uncomfortable, and completely annoying, we are to bless. But that blessing should come from a genuineness, humility, love, and unity. You shouldn’t fake it or try to manufacture it.
So … from where does the ability to bless in the midst of suffering come? I think verse 12 gives us a great suggestion. “For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, and his ears are open to their prayer …” It think we have to look into the face of Jesus and draw from His example, and I think we have to pray and ask for His help. We can’t suffer for righteousness sake on our own! We’ll crash and burn every time! We must keep our eyes fixed on Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith (Hebrews 12:2) and pray without ceasing (1 Thessalonians 5:17). When we do this, Jesus empowers us through His Spirit to stand up under our sufferings and honor Him with the way we respond, and that is precious in His sight!
Bless and rest – bless others and rest (trust) in God’s promises!
Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame. – Romans 10:11
Apply Truth to Your Life …
- In what areas of your life are you suffering for doing good?
- How are you responding? Are you resting in the good or fretting because of the bad?
- What/who is helping you be loving, tender-hearted, sympathetic, and humble?
- If you aren’t being those things, what will you do today to begin seeking and pursuing peace in this situation?
- What will you do today to bless and be a blessing to all?
Precious Father, help us! Help us to so rest in the good so that we don’t react to the bad. Help us look to Jesus in the face of suffering and remember His example. Help us to seek peace and pursue it in all situations. In Jesus’ name, amen.
Jacqueline Heider if the Director of Women’s Ministry, Prayer & Resource Specialist at Warren Baptist Church.