Our Women’s Ministry is partnering with the S.H.I.E.L.D. Ministry at Warren on a project called “Operation Special Delivery.” This is an opportunity for us to give a small gift to military families with newborns at Trinity Hospital. We decided to make burp cloths as a practical token of God’s love and care for these very special babies and their families.
As the team was preparing and planning this summer, we decided on a simple pattern for making the burp cloths from cloth diapers, ribbon and strips of fabric. The materials were purchased, instructions printed, and a training day established. From the beginning of our preparations, I gave a disclaimer. I let the team know that I would certainly help prepare and plan but I could not sew! Why? Because I don’t know how to sew – anything (well, except a button every now and then)! The team assured me, however, that even “I” could do this if I simply read the pattern, watched someone complete a burp cloth, and follow the steps.
As I read our text this week, I was reminded of this conversation, and the idea of emulating someone by watching them closely and following a pattern step by step.
Let’s search the Scriptures by reading 1 Peter 2:13-25. See if you pick up on this idea of “following in Jesus’ steps.”
Now let’s do some discovering …
What is the main idea of this passage? (It can really be summed up in two words.)
If you said submission and suffering, you are correct! This passage tells us a lot about being subject to those in authority over us and about suffering unjustly.
Before we move any further along in the passage, let’s define the term “be subject.”
The Greek rendering of this phrase is hypotassō, which means to arrange under, to submit to one’s control, to yield to one’s admonition or advice, to obey.
Verses 13-17 focus on our submission to those whom God has, by His sovereign hand, placed to rule our government. We are commanded to honor them. Why?
Verse 15 tells us … “For this is the will of God.” It will also “silence the ignorance of foolish people.” We are ultimately, as the passage goes on to tell us, “servants of God.” We do not need to fall into the trap of bondage by “doing evil” because of our actions and reactions to those in government authority over us. God has placed them there. We are sojourners, remember? We are simply passing through.
God is fully aware and in control of who is running our government. He is not surprised by anything that is transpiring at this moment. When the world at large seems to be spiraling out of control, we can remember that God is still in control. We can rest assured that as “the world” gets worse, God’s return draws closer. To put it in the words of Anne Graham Lotz, “When everything around us in the world looks like it’s falling apart, it’s really just falling into place.”
Verse 17 tells us what is Precious in His Sight. Honor! “Honor everyone. Love the brotherhood. Fear God, Honor the emperor.”
Giving honor is precious because it gives a right reflection of who God is. AND it shows who we really believe He is! We can give honor, not because we agree with everything that is being said or done, but because we trust God. We can honor God by honoring those with whom He has placed in authority.
What about those in authority over you in your day-to-day life? Your boss, for example. Verses 18-20 give us a pattern for how we should respond to our earthy masters. We should respond to our earthly masters with respect whether they treat us in a right way or a wrong way.
So regardless of how I am treated by my boss, I am to be respectful. (Please note that if your boss is asking you to do anything illegal or unethitcal, you do not have to submit to that sort of authority. God would never ask you to sin. If you are being physically mistreated you must leave the situation and contact the authorities.) Enduring this type of suffering with grace is not only precious in His sight, but it also gives the opportunity for you to give a testimony without having opened your mouth.
Next we are given the pattern for enduring the suffering to which I was referring in verses 21-25. Our pattern is Jesus. His suffering. His rejection. His death. His response.
When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly. – 1 Peter 2:23
That is the pattern for suffering. Read Philippians 3:10-11. This is Precious in His Sight. When we become like our suffering Savior, when we honor everyone, when we show respect when respect is not due, when we keep our mouths closed and don’t defend ourselves when we could, when we allow God to be our judge and defender, we are Precious in His Sight.
Apply Truth to Your Life …
- Do you believe that God has placed those that rule our land in those positions of authority? If so, how should you respond to things going on in our government with which you disagree?
- What can you do to better “honor everyone, love the brotherhood, fear God, and honor the emperor”?
- Have you been treated unfairly or unjustly at work? How can remembering the sufferings of Christ help you endure?
- Are their times when you are tempted to “defend” yourself? Will you instead choose to “entrust yourself to the One who judges justly?”
I know it is not easy my friend. I struggle with this teaching as well. It is only by constantly reminding myself of who my real authority is that I can even begin to live these truths out.
Here is a verse that I have decided I must memorize. I believe it is applicable to this passage; it is definitely applicable to my life.
Set a guard, O LORD, over my mouth; keep watch over the door of my lips! – Psalm 141:3
Let’s follow the pattern God has given us through His Son, Jesus. We will surely become masterpieces for His glory if we do and be Precious in His Sight.
Precious Father, thank you for giving us a pattern for submission and suffering. This is difficult teaching, but with Your help I can learn to live in freedom in this area. You are great and greatly to be praised. Thank You for Your continued guidance in my life. In Jesus’ name, amen.
Jacqueline Heider if the Director of Women’s Ministry, Prayer & Resource Specialist at Warren Baptist Church.