1 Peterby David Burge
Not all suffering is unjust-sometimes we make a mistake and suffer the consequences. We drop the milk and have to clean it up, or we falsely accuse someone and receive an angry response. So, too, with persecution; sometimes Christians suffer because we have been irritating or arrogant. But in today's verses, Peter says that if we must suffer hostility from others, let's make sure it is only for doing good.
In the previous verses, Peter said that generally, believers' desire to live peacefully and to do good would lead to stronger relationships and various blessings (see also Psalm 1). This general truth is expressed in the next question he asks: ″Who is going to harm you if you are eager to do good?″ (1 Peter 3:13). Normally, though not always, kindness meets a good response.
But when suffering comes undeservedly, Peter doesn't want us to be unsettled. He says that sometimes suffering will be completely unjust, yet this does not threaten God's promised blessing (v. 14). Why, then, can we face suffering confidently? Peter gives two reasons.
First, God's children have nothing to fear! As we mature as Christians, we realise that we need not fear-and we must not fear-people or things (as we saw also in v. 6). The only space for fear in our lives is in the form of a loving reverence for God. In the words of verse 15, we ″revere Christ as Lord″.
In your life as a Christian, are you afraid of people or consequences that might come if you lovingly, faithfully serve Christ? God says: ″Do not fear their threats; do not be frightened″ (v. 14).
Second, we can endure suffering confidently because it leads to opportunities to share Jesus with others. Peter tells us to ″be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have″ (v. 15).
Even here, with the opportunity to share our hope, we remain gentle and respectful, and act according to a good conscience (vv. 15-16). That way, if another round of suffering follows, the attack is more obviously shameful and undeserved. So if we must suffer, says Peter, let it be for doing good as we follow Christ.
What fears make you feel like giving up doing what you think is right?
Ask God to forgive you for the times you have distrusted His care. Say to Him, ″Lord, help me to fear no person or thing.″