Keeping On Because We’re Kept
Do right even when it’s hard because God has your back.
For the last several mornings I’ve been reading through 1 Peter and in a new way, at least for me, I’ve come to understand what he’s saying in this letter. The center of the book is chocked full of his exhortations to Christians in the midst of suffering and persecution. The first readers of this letter were going through a hard time. Many of them were punished because of their association to Jesus. They weren’t doing anything wrong; they hadn’t committed any crimes; but because they embraced the identity of “Christian” — because they lived under Jesus’s name — their neighbors and authorities mistreated them.
And Peter encourages these Christians to count that a blessing: “Rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed” (1 Peter 4:13). And then again: “If anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in that name” (1 Peter 4:16). So this is one exhortation, just like James 1:2 — and it’s important.
And then there’s also the resounding exhortation to keep doing right.
Keep Doing Right
- “For this is the will of God, that by doing good you should put to silence the ignorance of foolish people” (1 Peter 2:15).
- “But if when you do good and suffer for it you endure, this is a gracious thing in the sight of God” (1 Peter 2:20).
- “Do not repay evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary, bless, for to this you were called, that you may obtain a blessing” (1 Peter 3:9).
- “For it is better to suffer for doing good, if that should be God’s will, than for doing evil” (1 Peter 3:17).
In other words, persevere is doing the right thing even when it’s hard so that you can be sure you’re being mistreated for Jesus’s sake, not because you’re contemptible or belligerent — because if we’re mistreated for that, for doing wrong, then Jesus isn’t glorified and we can’t rejoice. So keep doing right, even when it’s hard. But how?
How Do We Keep Doing Right?
Answer: by looking to Jesus.
Jesus has left us an example, Peter says. We know what he went through. We know how he was treated. “He committed no sin, neither was deceit found in his mouth. When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten …” (1 Peter 2:24). So then what did he do? When he was silent before his persecutors what was he doing in his silence?
Peter says he “continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly” (1 Peter 2:23).
And this is the same exhortation Peter gives us a couple chapters later as the bookend to this theme: “Therefore let those who suffer according to God’s will entrust their souls to a faithful Creator while doing good” (1 Peter 4:19).
Do you see how it all comes together?
God Has Your Back, and More
The only way we can keep doing right even in the midst of hard times is if we trust that God has our back. He is faithful. He’s not missing or unaware, as Pastor Michael said Sunday. He sees us and he cares for us. And we must cast our anxieties on him (1 Peter 5:6–7). Entrust your soul to him.
And this isn’t easy. I get it. But consider the help we have in Jesus. We see it in this amazing line back in Chapter 2. Jesus has left us an example, Peter says, but he has not left us.
Peter writes: “For you were straying like sheep, but have now returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls” (1 Peter 2:25).
These are the words for “pastor” and “bishop” in the New Testament. Jesus is your example, yes, and Jesus is the pastor of your soul. Jesus is the bishop of your being.
So God has our back, and our souls. We can trust him.