Monday: Suffering and the Example of Christ

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Read through 1 Peter 3:13-22. How should Christians respond to those who would bring them suffering because of their faith? What is the connection between the sufferings of Jesus and the sufferings experienced by the believers because of their faith?

Christ's Suffering

Image © Jeff Preston

When Peter says, “if you should suffer for righteousness’ sake, you are blessed” (1 Pet. 3:14, NKJV), he is but echoing the words of Jesus: “‘Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake’” (Matt. 5:10, NKJV). He then says that Christians should not fear those who are attacking them, but they should sanctify (revere) Christ as Lord in their hearts (1 Pet. 3:15). This affirmation of Jesus in their own hearts will help to stanch the fear that they face from those opposing them.

He then suggests that Christians always should be able to explain the hope that they have, but to do so in an appealing way-with meekness and fear (“fear” is sometimes translated “reverence”; see 1 Pet. 3:15-16).

Peter insists that Christians should make sure that they do not provide others with a reason to accuse them. They must keep their consciences clear (1 Pet. 3:16). This is important, because then those who accuse a Christian will be put to shame by the blameless life of the Christian who is being accused.

Clearly, there is no merit in suffering for being a wrongdoer (1 Pet. 3:17). It is suffering for doing good, for doing the right thing, that makes the crucial difference. “For it is better, if it is the will of God, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil” (1 Pet. 3:17, NKJV).

Peter then used the example of Jesus. Christ Himself suffered for His righteousness; the holiness and purity of His life stood as a constant rebuke to those who hated Him. If anyone suffered for doing right and not wrong, it was Jesus.

But His suffering also brought about the only means of salvation. He died in the place of sinners (“the just for the unjust,” 1 Pet. 3:18), so that those who believe in Him will have the promise of eternal life.

Have you ever suffered, not because you had done wrong, but because you had done right? What was the experience, and what did you learn about what it means to be a Christian and to reflect the character of Christ?

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Source: Daily Sabbath School Lessons