Living Loved When Living’s Hard | Day 7
Reading: 1 Peter 2:12-25, 3:8-22, 4:12-19
“For what credit is there if you sin and are punished, and you endure it? But when you do what is good and suffer, if you endure it, this brings favor with God. For you were called to this, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you should follow in His steps.” 1 Peter 2:20-21 (HCSB)
As much as we might hate it, we’ve been called to suffer. Thankfully, God doesn’t expect us to make it on our own. We have Jesus, our High Priest, who understands every type of suffering we have gone through and will go through. He is able to sympathize with our pain and our heartache. He gets it. He knows because He went through it. He was beaten for things He didn’t do, He was blamed for sins He never committed, but He never fought back. He could’ve called down a host of angels to give His tormentors the punishment they deserved. But He didn’t. Why? Because of you. Because of me. Because a willing sacrifice of a perfect life was the only way to completely free us from the power of sin.
And I honestly believe He would’ve done all of this, even if you were the only person who would ever follow Him:
“What man among you, who has 100 sheep and loses one of them, does not leave the 99 in the open field and go after the lost one until he finds it? When he has found it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders, and coming home, he calls his friends and neighbors together, saying to them, ‘Rejoice with me, because I have found my lost sheep!’ I tell you, in the same way, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over 99 righteous people who don’t need repentance.” (Luke 15:4-7, HCSB)
Should we not do the same?
If Jesus is our perfect example, shouldn’t we be willing to lay down our life that one person may come to know Him?
Our sacrifices may not be as dramatic as actually dying to protect someone else’s life, but choosing to live a sacrificial life for the good of those around us is just as important. Our sacrifices are going to be found in our day-to-day living, offering light to those who have yet to experience a relationship with Jesus Christ.
These sacrifices look like respecting a boss or a supervisor who might not deserve it. It’s respecting the co-worker who seems to go out of her way to unfairly criticize you. It’s choosing to let an argument die rather than letting your pride win.
I don’t think that Peter is telling us that we need to be doormats. Letting people walk all over you is not love, that’s being taken advantage of. Jesus had no problem getting in the face of the religious leaders when He needed to, and I think there’s a lot we can learn from His confrontations. But we also need to remember that His motives were always 100% pure and His actions were always 100% for God’s glory. I can’t always say that about myself. Sometimes I want to argue just because I want to be right. Or I want to hang on to bitterness just because I want the other person to pay for their actions. That’s not my job. My job is to love God and love people.
In light of that, I do think we have the right to confront people when we’re treated unfairly or discriminated against. If a classmate is constantly spreading rumors about you, you can go to someone and get help. You don’t have to endure that mistreatment because “you’re a Christian and you’re supposed to be nice to everyone.” We are never called to be “nice.” We are called to love, to have joy, to be peaceful, to be patient, to be kind, to be good, to have faith, to be gentle, and to have self-control. Sometimes that means we have to stand up against sin. We have to speak out against injustice, but not with our guns blazing willing to take out anyone who stands in our way. We should fight against the wrong in this world in a way that exhibits love, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.
Christ has freed you from the hold of this world. We are no longer held to the standards we may face here. But that freedom doesn’t mean we get to live however we want. It doesn’t mean we have Jesus’s okay to be jerks to people who believe differently than us.
If someone is bashing on you or seems to be out to get you, and you have done nothing wrong, that’s exactly how you should be living. It’s not easy, but you will be blessed for doing good. So, to quote my girl T-Swift, “Haters gonna hate.” Just keep doing what you’re doing but be prepared to respectfully explain why you’re living how you’re living. Maybe people will come to know Jesus because of the kindness, grace, and patience you show.
But, if someone is bad-mouthing you and you choose to fight back by gossiping about them, then you deserve whatever discipline may come your way. If your boss asks you to stop offering communion services in the break room and you throw the juice in her face, HR probably won’t be too happy with you. When those disciplinary action forms come your way, you better not say, “I’m suffering for my Jesus! They’re attacking me because of my religion! This must my cross to bear!”
No, it’s not. They don’t like you because you’re being an idiot.
There’s nothing good or honorable in suffering because you were in the wrong. You can’t call it discrimination or injustice when you’re being stupid. If you get punished for doing something wrong, that’s your own problem. That’s not suffering; that’s just legit consequences.
Friend, there is honor in suffering because you are trying to live the life God has called you to live. It won’t be easy. We’re going to face challenges because of Who we choose to follow.
My pastor once said that if we face suffering or resistance, it’s probably a good sign that we’re doing what we’re supposed to be doing. I mean, it makes sense: Why would Satan make someone’s life hard if they weren’t doing anything? He’s much more concerned with trying to discourage the people who are actively following Jesus and trying to make a difference.
I know that doesn’t necessarily make our sufferings any easier, but it does give us a bit of hope. If we are following in God’s way, there’s nothing that can harm us.
We can have the faith of David, who willingly spared Saul’s life because he chose to trust God’s promise rather than his own abilities, even though he was the chosen heir, now homeless and hiding in caves.
We can have the faith of Peter, who pushed aside his own regrets to lead the new church, following Jesus’s request in spite of the rumors he probably faced from denying Him.
We can have the faith of Paul, who trusted that he would preach in Rome like God promised, even though his boat crashed and he was arrested and beaten for his belief.
So yes, we have been called to suffer. But we’ve also been promised an ending that outshines anything we could ever want in this world.
✌️ – Tonya
Here’s a song titled “So Will I (100 Billion X)” by Hillsong United. I find this song super encouraging, especially when I don’t feel like praising God or trusting Him.
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