Bible Reference: 1 Peter 4:12-16
Translation: Easy-To-Read Version (ERV)
Bible Text: 12 My friends, don’t be surprised at the painful things that you are now suffering, which are testing your faith. Don’t think that something strange is happening to you. 13 But you should be happy that you are sharing in Christ’s sufferings. You will be happy and full of joy when Christ shows his glory. 14 When people say bad things to you because you follow Christ, consider it a blessing. When that happens, it shows that God’s Spirit, the Spirit of glory, is with you. 15 You may suffer, but don’t let it be because you murder, steal, make trouble, or try to control other people’s lives. 16 But if you suffer because you are a “Christ-follower,” don’t be ashamed. You should praise God for that name.
OBSERVATION: Suffering for something that we’re in trouble for, is very understandable. But when we suffer because we believe differently to the rest of the world, and we act more loving, kind, respectful, and truly love the God and Creator of this universe, we tend to feel like our world is very wrong. However, our Scripture today, forewarns us about impending punishment and ridicule from this world’s rulers. As we meditate, let us evaluate whether the authorities will see sufficient evidence of our being a Christ-Follower to arrest us.
APPLICATION: I believe that when we accept Jesus as Lord, we tend to think more about what the benefits might be, than thinking about what additional controversy our decision might create, or what additional persecution might arise in our lives. Think about it, when folk are really struggling, we tend to convince them that they need Jesus. What if we told them that what they are presently going through is only a ‘drop-in-the-bucket’ compared to what will be brought on them after conversion? Do you suppose that anyone would agree to surrender their lives to Christ? However friends, we must be honest in evaluating what happened to Jesus, for He healed the sick, raised the dead and caused the blind to see, yet He was sought after like a criminal. This same Jesus is to be our role model. I feel like what we are taught here is that we are to do good, and be a shining example of Jesus, even if we know that controversy will arise. On the way to a business party one time I was asked by an executive why Christians abstain from drinking alcohol. I believe that it was asked to embarrass me because it was asked in a jeering way hoping to get laughter from the other executives present. I responded honestly as I believe God would have me do, and although I waited for the repercussion, it seemed like my honest response was well accepted. I recently heard a request for prayer about persecution on the job at a local company. It really surprised me, but after reading this scripture this morning, I am convinced that although we are not expected to go out and be deliberate rebels in our workplace or at local diners, or any other place that we go, we are expected to let our lights shine for Jesus and not hide that light for the sake of popularity or because of possible persecution. In fact, I love the suggested attitude in verse 14 – when we feel persecuted, or picked on, or laughed at, or made fun of, because of our faith, it is a great time to praise God knowing that others are impacted by the Christian stance we just took on a matter or the Christ-likeness that our audience just witnessed. It’s not a show-off thing, it’s our every-day Christian life being displayed in all aspects of our life. Is this always easy for us? Absolutely not, but when done in sincerity and under the direction and power of the Holy Spirit, we will see great things accomplished for God. In fact, I would go as far as saying that if we feel forced into making a stand, then we need to question if it truly is a ‘God thing’, or are we doing it to impress someone about us and our strengths and abilities.
PRAYER: Dear God, You gave everything You had so that we might have eternal life in glory with You and Your Son. Thank You Lord for Your goodness to me and Your invaluable gift! Lord, I pray that Your children who will meditate on this devotional today, might catch a glimpse, as I did, to the value of living our faith and making our witness known to all mankind, so that they might be convinced of our relationship with You. This witness will sometimes convince mankind of their need for a Savior, but it will sometimes offend those who are led by Satan and his demons. May we be strong in all circumstances, so that the world might know to whom we belong, and that we might be convinced in our heart that we are truly Yours, without a shadow of doubt. Lord, please have Your will and way in our lives today, and may Your glory shine through us as we stand firm in our faith in You. I ask these things in the powerful and awesome name of Jesus, and for your sake, AMEN!