Sunday, October 30, 2016

Unjust Suffering

Note from Jesus

Dear Disciple,

Life sometimes is not fair. If you have any doubts about that, just remember what you celebrate when you take part in Communion. My body was pierced and abused. My blood was shed because I was condemned based on the lies, jealousy, and politics of evil men. I was sinless, yet crucified as a heinous criminal. When you face unjust suffering, persecution, harassment, or abuse because you wear My name, remember that I also faced unfair and unjust treatment.

If you suffer for doing what is wrong, you are only getting what you deserve. However, if you suffer unjustly and unfairly, people will usually notice. People of faith will be empowered and emboldened. Unbelievers will recognize your holy behavior. Except for the most hardened hearts under hell’s influence, your godly behavior in the face of injustice and unfairness appeals to the hearts of those looking for truth. Don’t be discouraged. Your suffering will neither be wasted nor be forgotten by the Father.

In the face of ridicule, harassment, and abuse, your righteous character and gracious compassion will win the hearts of those who witness your life. Some will even want to know what your reason is for having hope in Me. So be ready to give an explanation of your hope in Me. But remember, do this “humbly and respectfully” in a manner consistent with your way of life as My disciple. Your goal is not just to win your case, protect your freedom, and safeguard your rights. Your goal is also to win the hearts of the unbelievers by using the character and compassion of your life.

Verses to Live

I selected your verses today from 1 Peter chapters 2 and 3. They are connected by the theme of righteous and compassionate behavior while facing unjust suffering. The principles Peter shares in these verses show his maturity and mellowing.

I transformed Peter from the arrogant and impetuous apostle who sometimes overstated things into the loving shepherd who faced tough times and wanted to equip others for their tough times. Whether you face persecution, ostracism, injustice, unfairness, or passive-aggressive hostility from those around you, Peter’s words in today’s verses need to grab your heart. I want Peter’s teaching to mold your behavior so that you can be an effective witness for Me.

For the Lord’s sake, accept the decrees and laws of all the various human institutions, whether they come from the highest human ruler or agents he sends to punish those who do wrong and to reward those who do well. You see, it is God’s will that by doing what is right and good you should hush the gabbing ignorance of the foolish. Live as those who are free and not as those who use their freedom as a pretext for evil, but live as God’s servants. Respect everyone. Love the community of believers. Reverence God. Honor your ruler.

If you are a slave, submit yourself to the master who has authority over you, whether he is kind and gentle or harsh as he deals with you. For grace is clearly at work when a person accepts undeserved pain and suffering and does so because he is mindful of God. For what credit is there in enduring punishment you deserve? But if you do what is right and yet are punished and endure it patiently, God will be pleased with you. For you were called to this kind of life, as Isaiah said,

He did no wrong deed,

and no evil word came from His mouth.

The Anointed One suffered for us and left us His example so that we could follow in His steps. When He was verbally abused, He didn’t return the abuse; when He suffered, He didn’t make threats to cause suffering in return; instead, He trusted that all would be put right by the One Who is just when He judges.

(1 Peter 2:13-23)

Finally, all of you, be like-minded and show sympathy, love, compassion, and humility to and for each other — not paying back evil with evil or insult with insult, but repaying the bad with a blessing. It was this you were called to do, so that you might inherit a blessing.

Why would anyone harm you if you eagerly do good? Even if you should suffer for doing what is right, you will receive a blessing. Don’t let them frighten you. Don’t be intimidated, but exalt Him as Lord in your heart. Always be ready to offer a defense, humbly and respectfully, when someone asks why you live in hope. Keep your conscience clear so that those who ridicule your good conduct in the Anointed and say bad things about you will be put to shame.

For if it is the will of God that you suffer, then it is better to suffer for doing what is right than for doing what is wrong. The Anointed One suffered for sins once for all time — the righteous suffering for the unrighteous — so that He might bring us to God.

(1 Peter 3:8-9; 1 Peter 3:13-18)

Response in Prayer

Holy and compassionate Father, please give me the strength to be gracious as well as faithful in the face of injustice, unfairness, ostracism, and intolerance. I want to demonstrate Your righteous character and Your gracious compassion. I ask You to fill and empower me with the Holy Spirit. I offer myself to You as Your willing servant and witness. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.

‘A Year with Jesus’ is written by Phil Ware.

© 1998-2016, Heartlight, Inc. ‘A Year with Jesus‘ is part of the Heartlight Network.
All scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from The Voice™. © 2008 by Ecclesia Bible Society. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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