An itinerant Rabbi Jesus once said that “in this world you will have tribulation,” and we all know that to be true. The fact that suffering exists doesn’t trouble us until we are the ones who are doing most of the suffering, when we are the ones who are the most vulnerable to experiencing that suffering and it is especially troubling when we feel the depth of our suffering is unjustified. While we know that one day God will make all things right, how are we to deal with injustices in our 21st century lives? How do we keep pressing on when life doesn’t seem fair?
Our response to unfairness is greatly influenced by our perspective, or the lens through which we choose to view our “suffering” life. We either have a human perspective—one that seeks living victimization, retribution when it perceives unequal treatment; or a divine perspective—one that yields its rights to the Lord and trusts in Him to work all things together for good (Romans 8:28). There is such an overwhelmingly strong message in 1 Peter 3:13-18. Lately, these verses have been standing out, so I thought we could dive into it together.
1 Peter 3:13-18 The Message
13-18 If with heart and soul you’re doing good, do you think you can be stopped? Even if you suffer for it, you are still [far] better off. Don’t give the opposition a second thought. Through thick and thin, keep your hearts at attention, in [full] adoration before Christ, your Master. Be ready to speak up and tell anyone who asks why you’re living the way you are, and always with the utmost courtesy. Keep a clear conscience before God so that when people throw mud at you, none of it will stick. They’ll end up realizing that they’re the ones who need a bath. It’s [far] better to suffer for doing good, if that’s what God wants, than to be punished for doing bad. That’s what Christ did definitively: suffered because of others’ sins, the Righteous One for the unrighteous ones. He went through it all—was put to death and then made alive—to bring us to God.
The Word of God for the Children of God. Gloria! In Excelsis Deo! Alleluia! Amen.
It is crucial to focus on the condition of your heart and soul. Our actions flow from these two things. Our thoughts and actions are altered by both as well.
Except this focus becomes blurred when life seems to focus too much on just exactly how vulnerable we are when life screams at us: “that is just not fair!”
We have all at one time or another been in that place where the only thing we seem to be able to focus on or prioritize is the “unfairness of our vulnerability.” Both ears of our hearts and our souls are deafened by all the piercing shrieks. Sometimes there appears to be no way to filter or screen out all the craziness. Our lives seem to become immobile frozen to an absolute zero temperature. “I cannot go up or down or to the right, and I cannot move off to the left either and I am certainly not going to jump off of the nearest cliff into the deepest rivers!”
So, what direction does that leave me to go, when there is seemingly nowhere? I will never hesitate to recommend turning to the Word of God for His children. I will never hesitate to recommend the Bible as the authority of God over every last ounce of the chaos which threatens to exploit my every single vulnerability.
And now, I grasp the authority of God from His Word found in 1 Peter 3:13-18! Reading and re-reading it, studying it and praying it, the only way to live a bold, demonstrative, spirit-filled life is to constantly redirect our attention to God, the Father. He shows us that His ways are better than ours. He shows us how to treat others and how to be light. When He is the center of every area of our lives, we live strongly. Souls are strengthened and hearts are filled. Following God does not guarantee an invincible path. We are not invincible, but He 1000% is.
When He gifted us with the Holy Spirit, He gave us supernatural strength to handle situations. He gave us understanding. We are always going to be human, but we are also conquerors. We will still face downfalls and heartaches, but if our eyes, hearts and souls are seeking Him, we will always rise. With constant reassurance of how great He is, why would we want to do our own thing? Our hearts and souls need to be fed in order to prosper. Without affirmation of faith through covenant and communication with Him, it’s impossible to be unselfish.
We recognize our source of life, but we cannot continue to develop without our exercising it every day. We must search for better understanding and know why we believe what we believe. We should be ready to tell anyone about how good God is to us. We must stand firm when people have tough questions and doubts.
They should not be able to distract us from the truth we have received from God and revealed through the ministry, mission and works of Jesus and Holy Spirit.
We should each be able to give explanations for the hope and faith within us with nothing but friendliness rather than aggravation. There will always be people who bash and disagree but let them. Jesus was mocked and tortured, but the glory of God overcame it all. Bad days will always come, but I would rather have bad days with a great God by my side than good ones without Him. The joy of the Lord is a lifestyle that cannot be described. It is well worth any sacrifice… After all, He did give the ultimate sacrifice. Because of this, I am forever His.
1 Peter 3:13-18 offers five-fold advice that will enable us to live in an unfair, inequitable world, and leads with a general rule that if you live a clean and honest and God-devout life, God, the Father, Son, Holy Spirit protect you.
 When suffering, consider yourself to be blessed by God. When you patiently endure unfair treatment, you are fulfilling God’s purpose and plan for your life. (Genesis 22:1-19, Daniel chapter 3, James 1:1-18) It is understandably difficult to remain joyful when going through pain, but it’s important to remember one day you WILL be richly rewarded for your endurance of these undeserved trials.
 Don’t panic or worry as it does nothing but undermine your trust in the Lord. God is aware of your struggle and He is your defense. He has your back.
 Acknowledge that Jesus is Lord over this situation as He is Lord over all of creation itself. He is glorified when he’s given ultimate authority in the midst of your trial. He is absolutely sovereign and is allowing this trial for reasons that are all His, even if it does not make sense to you. (Job 1:20-22 and 19:23-27)
 Be ready to defend your faith when the opportunity arises. Crisis often presents an overwhelming platform for zealous gospel witness, especially when your actions match your talk. This is especially true if #5 is in place, so… ergo …
 Be a person of honor, humility and integrity. Your honor, humility, and integrity are your greatest defenses against unjust criticism and the greatest evidence that there is a God in heaven who is powerfully working in your life.
We should really not be the least bit surprised or overwhelmed when we are overlooked or persecuted by the world. It is, sadly, a natural part of walking in opposition to culture and standing firm for Jesus Christ, but we can take heart, because we know He has already overcome the world. And through Him alone, so can we also! (John 16:25-33, John Chapters 17 and 20, Romans 8:31-39)
APPLICATION / CHALLENGE
- When you patiently endure unfair treatment, you are blessed. You are fulfilling God’s purpose and plan, and soon you will be rewarded for your endurance. Don’t panic or worry. Acknowledge that Jesus is Lord over this situation.
- Be a person of integrity (it’s both your best defense against unjust criticism, and the greatest evidence that God in heaven is powerfully at work in you.)
- Be ready to fully defend your faith as the opportunity arises. In a few concise statements, what would you share with someone who asks you about your beliefs? Finally, fashion your brief statements into an articulate paragraph that feels natural to speak – and regularly practice saying it until it is comfortable.
- Then zealously seek out opportunities to put your hope and faith into practice.
- In our success or in failure, Give God every last ounce of glory, honor or praise!
TO GIVE GOD PRIORITY IN LIFE – TAKE A FIRST STEP
Each day strive to write down one doable concrete step towards obedience, small or large, that you will then strive to put into regular practice. (James 1:22: “But prove yourselves doers of the word, not merely hearers who delude themselves.”)
In the name of God, the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit,
Let us pray,
Psalm 23 The Message
23 1-3 God, my shepherd!
I don’t need a thing.
You have bedded me down in lush meadows,
you find me quiet pools to drink from.
True to your word,
you let me catch my breath
and send me in the right direction.
4 Even when the way goes through
I’m not afraid
when you walk at my side.
Your trusty shepherd’s crook
makes me feel secure.
5 You serve me a six-course dinner
right in front of my enemies.
You revive my drooping head;
my cup brims with blessing.
6 Your beauty and love chase after me
every day of my life.
I’m back home in the house of God
for the rest of my life.
Gloria! In Excelsis Deo! Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia! Amen.