Do Not Fear Their Threats

1 Peter 3:13-18 NIV

“Who is going to harm you if you are eager to do good? But even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed. ‘Do not fear their threats; do not be frightened.’ But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander. For it is better, if it is God’s will, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil. For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God.”

Satan, Our Arch Enemy

Satan, who is our arch enemy, who is extremely hostile or opposed to those of us who are following Jesus Christ with our lives, is out to get us. He is out to take us down and out, to do away with us permanently. That is just the reality of the situation. And he will use other humans to do his dirty work for him. And some of them will be his tools unwittingly (unintentionally) while others he uses are fully engaged in evil plots against us.

But when we suffer for what is right, we are blessed. For we are called to share in the fellowship of Christ’s sufferings, becoming like him in his death. And Jesus said that if we follow him with our lives that we will be hated and persecuted as he was hated and persecuted. And who were his greatest opponents? They were rulers in the temple of God, and they were those who were students of the Scriptures and who taught the Scriptures.

But they were also hypocrites and liars who were making a pretense of righteousness on the outside while they were living in sin behind closed doors. They were those who did not practice what they preached, and who did their deeds to be seen by others. They loved places of honor and the attention that it got them. They adhered to religious rituals but not to God’s righteousness. They were full of greed, wicked deeds, and self-indulgence. And they persecuted those who were God’s truly righteous ones.

So, we will also be persecuted by the same types of people if we are following in Jesus’ footsteps, and if we are walking in his ways and in his truth, and especially if we are sharing the truth of the gospel and we are exposing the fruitless deeds of darkness for what they are. For our enemy Satan does not want his lies exposed, and he does not want the truth of the gospel to go forth, for he does not want people to turn from their sins to follow Jesus Christ with their lives.

Have No Fear

But we are not to fear their threats. Why? Because we are under God’s command and under his control. And he is fully sovereign over all of his creation. And so, like Job, nothing can harm us unless God allows it, and he allows it for a purpose, which usually is to try us in our faith, and it usually is to mature us and to make us holy and to purify us and to teach us patience and humility and perseverance. And it is so that we learn to rely on God and not on ourselves, and so we can comfort others who are also hurting.

So, no matter what we are going through, we are not to be afraid, but we are to put our trust fully in the Lord, and we are to revere Christ as Lord of our lives. And that means that we are to honor him as Lord (Owner-Master) of our lives, which means we are to be living as though he is truly the Owner and the Master of our lives and that we are no longer the ones directing our own steps. Our lives now belong to him for his purposes, and so we now follow in the ways he wants us to go.

Meek not Weak

Now we may have people who literally ask us to give the reason for the hope that we have in Jesus Christ. But we may also have people who oppose us and who challenge us in our walks of faith, and that truly is also a call for us to give the reason for the hope that we have in Jesus Christ. But we are not to be hateful or nasty or to start name calling, nor should we “trade tit-for-tat” (be spiteful) with them. But we should express power with reserve (gentleness), which is meekness, but not weakness.

Remember that Jesus was meek and yet he turned tables upside down and used a whip to drive money changers out of the temple. And his words to the Pharisees (Matthew 23) were not gentle as a kitten (an expression). Well, kittens aren’t always so gentle, are they? And remember Stephen’s words that got him stoned to death. They were not gentle in the sense of weak. They were strong words because they were the truth that the people needed to hear, which were similar to the words Jesus spoke, too.

So “gentle” doesn’t mean that we back down from the truth that needs to be said or that we “sugar coat” the words to make them more acceptable. It just means that we use the wisdom of God in what we say and that we speak with meekness, not in pride and arrogance – not to “toot our own horns.” Wow, I am full of idiomatic phrases today, aren’t I? But I do usually try to explain what they mean. We should never let pride be what rules our tongues, and sometimes we just need to walk away and say nothing.

And the bottom line in this is that we need to keep clear consciences so that we can look back on these conversations with people without regret. Or if we realized we were in error, we need to make sure that we do everything we know to do to correct that error and to right the wrong. For not one of us is perfect all the time in what we say. It is good if we do not jump too soon to give an answer, especially if we are feeling attacked, but that we pray and ask the Lord to direct our conversations so we don’t say what we will regret.

Even if we have to walk away from a conversation with people having the wrong impression of us, or with them speaking lies against us, then that is what we have to do rather than to blow it. For it is better, if it is God’s will, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil. And Jesus sets the right example for us. He gave up his reputation and his life for us and he allowed others to think evil of him so that he could provide the way for us to be delivered from our sins and to walk now in obedience and in righteousness, by his grace.

[Matt 5:10-16; Matt 10:16-25; Matt 24:9-14; Matt 28:18-20; Lu 6:22-23; Lu 21:12-19; John 15:1-21; Jn 16:33; Acts 1:8; Acts 14:22; Acts 26:18; Rom 5:3-5; Rom 12:1-8; 1 Co 12:1-31; 2 Co 1:3-11; Eph 4:1-16; Eph 5:17-27; Phil 3:7-11; Col 3:16; 1 Thess 3:1-5; Jas 1:2-4; Heb 3:13; Heb 12:3-12; 1 Pet 1:6-7; 1 Pet 2:9; 1 Pet 4:12-17]

Come, Ye Disconsolate

Lyrics by Thomas Moore, 1816
Arr. by Thomas Hastings, 1831
Music by Samuel Webbe, Sr, 1792

Come, ye disconsolate, where’er ye languish,
Come to the mercy seat, fervently kneel.
Here bring your wounded hearts, here tell your anguish;
Earth has no sorrow that heav’n cannot heal.

Joy of the desolate, light of the straying,
Hope of the penitent, fadeless and pure!
Here speaks the Comforter, tenderly saying,
“Earth has no sorrow that heav’n cannot cure.”

Here see the bread of life, see waters flowing
Forth from the throne of God, pure from above.
Come to the feast of love; come, ever knowing
Earth has no sorrow but heav’n can remove.

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