Christ suffered on the cross and we as His followers also suffer. Christ’s suffering gave us salvation. Our suffering reveals Salvation in us. Verses 1-2 read,
“Since therefore Christ suffered in the flesh, arm yourselves with the same way of thinking, for whoever has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin, 2 so as to live for the rest of the time in the flesh no longer for human passions but for the will of God.”
We are not better than Jesus. We must expect to suffer. And when we do suffer for Christ’s sake, we can rejoice. We are emulating our Lord. We are being transformed to His image. We are glorifying God so that others will know His redemption.
Verses 12-17 read,
“Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. 13 But rejoice insofar as you share Christ's sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed. 14 If you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you. 15 But let none of you suffer as a murderer or a thief or an evildoer or as a meddler. 16 Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in that name.”
Suffering has more than one purpose. While we suffer, people see us. They watch and take note of how and why we go through our situation. How is that we can rejoice and even praise God through trials? They expect us to react in a worldly way and when we don’t, they see a glimpse of God. They see the grace of Jesus lived out.
Suffering conforms us to the image of Jesus Christ. Trials and tribulations teach us to exercise the fruit of the Spirit, the gifts He gave us, and purify us. . God sees us as righteous when He looks at us, but that doesn’t mean, He doesn’t care about our behavior. We are saved by grace but that doesn’t mean we should use our liberty as a reason to look and act like the rest of the world. We are supposed to emanate the Spirit of God, not the spirits of the world. We follow the King of kings, not the prince of this world. If the saved, God’s own children can’t behave in a manner worthy of God, how can we expect the lost to ever find Jesus? Verses 17-19 read,
“For it is time for judgment to begin at the household of God; and if it begins with us, what will be the outcome for those who do not obey the gospel of God? 18 And
“If the righteous is scarcely saved,
what will become of the ungodly and the sinner?”
19 Therefore let those who suffer according to God's will entrust their souls to a faithful Creator while doing good.”
We entrust our souls to the Lord. We give Him custody and authority over it. While we suffer, through good times, through joy, through sadness, and everything else we know God has charge over our souls and He will keep it for us until the Day we come into it at our completion. It will be worth more than it could have been if He hadn’t held it for us. It will be perfect.
Until that day, we are charged with doing good, with being Children of God in a world that doesn’t know Him. We are charged with doing good in a world that celebrates selfishness and debauchery. Even the fact that we don’t want to join them in decadence shocks them and gives them a reason to hate us or know us because of Jesus.
Verses 3-4 say it like this,
“For the time that is past suffices for doing what the Gentiles want to do, living in sensuality, passions, drunkenness, orgies, drinking parties, and lawless idolatry. 4 With respect to this they are surprised when you do not join them in the same flood of debauchery, and they malign you;”
We have to remember that they are lost. The reason they badmouth us is because they follow Satan and don’t even know it. They will be judged one day. They need the chance to hear the Gospel. They need a chance to call Jesus their Lord. Our behavior in good times and bad gives them a chance to hear the Truth. Verses 5-6 say it this way,
“but they will give account to him who is ready to judge the living and the dead. 6 For this is why the gospel was preached even to those who are dead, that though judged in the flesh the way people are, they might live in the spirit the way God does.”
Their self-indulgence may give them temporary pleasure, but Jesus gives eternal life. Keep in mind. Choose your conduct with love. Do you love them enough to abstain from sin, suffer with grace, and rejoice in the Lord? Do you love them enough to give them a chance to know Jesus?
Verses 7-11 encourage us,
“The end of all things is at hand; therefore be self-controlled and sober-minded for the sake of your prayers. 8 Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins. 9 Show hospitality to one another without grumbling. 10 As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God's varied grace: 11 whoever speaks, as one who speaks oracles of God; whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength that God supplies—in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. To him belong glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.”
Believer, you are special. You are not like the world. You are a child of the Living God, saved by Jesus and consecrated by the Holy Spirit. You are separate from the world, in it but not of it. Your life should be a witness to the truth, a living sacrifice to the Lord, and a light to salvation.