1 Peter 3:13-17 ESV
“Now who is there to harm you if you are zealous for what is good? But even if you should suffer for righteousness’ sake, you will be blessed. Have no fear of them, nor be troubled, but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect, having a good conscience, so that, when you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame. For it is better to suffer for doing good, if that should be God’s will, than for doing evil.”
Zealous for What is Good
What is good? Who defines good? Do we? Or does God? In this context, definitely, it is God who is defining for us the good that we ought to do. And “good” is all that is holy, righteous, morally pure, upright, godly, honest, faithful, loving, and kind (as God defines kind, not as humans do). Good is also repentance and walks of obedience and submission to Jesus as Lord.
For we have many people teaching in the church today who are defining the good that we ought to do, some of which is biblical, and it is mostly secularized and worldly. For they say we are to “be the gospel” by doing good deeds for people, and by inviting neighbors over to eat pizza and to watch movies and to hang out and do nothing associated with Jesus.
For, they discourage us sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ in words, because we don’t want to offend people, they say. For, we aren’t supposed to make people feel uncomfortable by confronting them in their sins and by calling them to repentance and to obedient faith in Jesus Christ. We are not supposed to call them to holiness and righteousness, either.
They say that is not kind. It is not “nice” or polite to talk with people about their sins and of their need to repent and to follow Jesus in obedience. We especially are discouraged from doing so with other Christians who we know are living in sin, because they are saying that is judgmental and so we are supposed to “stay in your own lane.”
Now, Jesus healed the sick and afflicted, he raised the dead, he delivered people from demons, he fed the hungry, and he comforted the sorrowful, so he cared for people’s physical and emotional needs, as well as he preached repentance for salvation and for forgiveness of sins, and he preached that we must die with him to sin or we don’t have eternal life with him.
So, it isn’t all about getting out the gospel and exhorting our fellow Christians to forsake their idols and their sinful practices and to walk in holiness and purity of devotion to the Lord. But so many Christians today are neglecting this ministry that we are called to do in favor of doing just what makes people feel good about themselves and about us, and that is wrong.
If You Should Suffer
So, if you are one who is taking the call of God seriously, not only to live a godly and holy life in obedience to the Lord, but to take the gospel to the ends of the earth, and to call sin what it is, and to call people to repentance and to obedient faith in Jesus Christ, you are likely to find that much of the church will reject you and oppose you, at least here in America.
And that is because so much of today’s church in America is following after the ways of the world and the marketing schemes of men and the teachings of humanistic philosophy and psychology and of cheap grace which does not demand turning from our sinful lifestyles to follow Jesus in obedience, but which leaves wiggle room for its followers to continue practicing sin.
The church, overall, has so many preachers today who are nothing more than motivational speakers who are giving out feel-good messages to appease human flesh, and who are refusing to teach the truth that Jesus taught and that his NT apostles taught, and that is because the truth offends people, it makes them uncomfortable, and so they don’t want to hear it.
And so if you are zealous for what is good, as God defines good, you may find yourself alone much of the time, standing alone, being criticized, being rejected, being mocked, and not being encouraged and supported spiritually much at all by those who are supposed to be the family of God. But if you should suffer this way for righteousness’ sake, then you are blessed.
Have No Fear
I can attest to the fact that if you are zealous for godliness, righteousness, and holiness, and for the gospel as Jesus taught it, and as his NT apostles taught it, if you live in America, you are probably going to be lonely a lot. You are not going to have a huge following, most likely. And you are going to have pastors and other Christians opposing and rejecting you.
But we are not to fear opposition or persecution or loneliness, either. It is better to walk in obedience to the Lord, in surrender to his will for your life, doing what his word commands, sharing the gospel with others which saves lives, even if it means being alone and not having much in the way of encouragement or support from other believers.
For if you are following Jesus with your life, doing what he commands, he is going to use that for good in the lives of others. So, we always have to keep Jesus as our central focus, and we have to think about the greater good of what is happening when we obey him and be less concerned if others are going to like us or approve us or want to be with us.
And we should always be prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks us for a reason for the hope that is in us. But we are never to be hateful or nasty or to make snide and cutting remarks or to try to appear superior to others. But we should exercise the strength and the wisdom of the Lord in what we say and in how we say it, keeping a good conscience.
So, when we are slandered, we don’t trade “tit for tat.” We don’t try to get even. We hold our tongues, and we respond with grace, but in truth, and with a good conscience. And we leave our opposition into the hands of God and we suffer wrong willingly for doing what we know is of God. And we trust the Lord to work in all of our hearts for our good and for his glory.
And one day Jesus is going to return for his bride, and for those of us who are living to please the Lord, who have not bowed to other gods, we are going to spend eternity with him. But for those who have continued in their sinful practices, and who are not practicing righteousness, no matter what their lips confess, heaven will not be their final reward. Take this to heart.
[Lu 9:23-26; Jn 6:35-58; Jn 15:1-11; Rom 6:1-23; Rom 8:1-17; Eph 4:17-24; 1 Pet 2:24; 1 Co 6:9-10, 19-20; 2 Co 5:10, 15; Tit 2:11-14; Jas 1:22-25; Gal 5:16-21; Eph 5:3-6; Gal 6:7-8; Rom 2:6-8; Matt 7:21-23; Heb 10:26-27; 1 Jn 1:5-9; 1 Jn 2:3-6; 1 Jn 3:4-10; Rom 12:1-2; Eph 2:8-10]
When I Go Home
By G. M. Eldridge
“He will wipe away every tear from their eyes…” Revelation 21:4
In the moment He appears
And the light from heaven shines,
I’ll forget ev’ry fear,
Ev’ry pain I’ll leave behind.
Then I’ll see Him as He is
And I’ll know Him as I’m known.
Ev’ry tear wiped away when I go home.
Ever present is the tho’t
That a moment waits for me
When unworthy as I am,
His glory I will see.
I will empty all my praise
Before my Father’s throne.
Ev’ry tear wiped away when I go home.
If the trial I endure,
And your presence I can’t find,
Be near me, Lord, I pray,
Bring back unto my mind
That your promises are firm
And I’m never on my own.
Ev’ry tear wiped away when I go home.
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