Posted by: Brad Beaman | January 19, 2011

Endurance Under Stress

ship to sea

1 Peter 2:13-25

It was one of those dramatic stories. The town ruffian named Big Joe became a Christian. After all the noses he had broken, black eyes he had given the meanest toughest man in town accepts Christ and becomes a changed man.

Now instead of a violent temper he endured patiently, even under stress. Big Joe was a Christian now and would not respond when provoked. But the inevitable happened. One man pushed Big Joe to the limit. He wanted everyone to see that he could taunt the toughest guy in town. This little shrimp called Big Joe names and dared him to respond.

Finally Big Joe being publically humiliated said, I am a Christian now and the Bible teaches to return good for evil. That is the way I live now. Then Big Joe pointed to that little guy and said I will have you know however, if I ever backslide and revert to my former violent way, you’ll be the first guy I come looking for!

Big Joe had it almost right. Christians are called to return good for evil. They are called to endure patiently under stress; suffering for doing good is commendable to God. But Big Joe was wrong in even making the threat of possible retaliation. We have Jesus example that he made no threats (1 Peter 2:23).

Peter writes to suffering Christians. He did not tell them to stage an uprising. He called them to endure patiently and honor God. Being wronged brings some of the strongest set of human emotions.

When we are wronged we desire the scripture that calls for an eye for an eye and tooth for a tooth. But Jesus says forgive how many times? He says seven times seventy.

1 Peter 2:13-25

13 Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every authority instituted among men: whether to the king, as the supreme authority, 14 or to governors, who are sent by him to punish those who do wrong and to commend those who do right. 15 For it is God’s will that by doing good you should silence the ignorant talk of foolish men. 16 Live as free men, but do not use your freedom as a cover-up for evil; live as servants of God. 17 Show proper respect to everyone: Love the brotherhood of believers, fear God, honor the king.
18 Slaves, submit yourselves to your masters with all respect, not only to those who are good and considerate, but also to those who are harsh. 19 For it is commendable if a man bears up under the pain of unjust suffering because he is conscious of God. 20 But how is it to your credit if you receive a beating for doing wrong and endure it? But if you suffer for doing good and you endure it, this is commendable before God. 21 To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps.
22 “He committed no sin,
and no deceit was found in his mouth.”
23 When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly. 24 He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed. 25 For you were like sheep going astray, but now you have returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls. for righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed. 25 For you were like sheep going astray, but now you have returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.

Submission to Authority vs. 13-15

Peter tells the suffering Christians to submit yourselves to every authority institution among men; kings governors. The command to submit, obey and be subject to certainly doesn’t encourage Christens to be part of emperor worship which was developing at that time.

There is no doubt that first and foremost the Christian owes allegiances to God, and the Christian is to worship no one or nothing except God. Jesus said render to Caesar the things that are Caesar, but to God the things that are God’s. Submit to government authorities for the Lord’s sake.

Christians are not called to be anarchists but to obey the laws of the land. Paul underscores this in Romans 13:1 Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, he who rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves.

You should submit to authorities for the Lord’s sake. Emperor Nero certainly was not the people’s choice for Christians. The believer is not put here to overthrow governments, but to establish Christ in the hearts of people.

Having said that Peter would be killed today if he lived in some countries because he refused to stop preaching the Gospel. He had his marching order from God (Acts 4:17-18, 5:29). We must obey God rather than men when a civil authority or law proclaims a direct sin before God, like emperor worship or to stop preaching the Gospel.

Unless it is a situation like that we must submit to ruling authorities and pray for them. To silence critics we pay taxes, obey the laws and operate with honesty and integrity.

Freedom with Responsibility vs. 16

Freedom is a great thing and we should cherish our freedom. But with freedom comes responsibility. People do abuse their freedoms but we must not. Peter does not want Christians to use their freedom to cover up evil.

Galatians 5:13 You, my brothers, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature; rather, serve one another in love.
Yes you are free I Christ, but God calls us to take up our cross daily. Obeying the commands of God is real freedom. Being outside the will of God is bondage.

Respect for Others vs. 17
Show proper respect to everyone: Love the brotherhood of believers, fear God, honor the king.
This verse is a lot like the great commandment to love God and love your neighbor. Show proper respect to everyone. Only humans are made in the image of God. Honor all men. There is no place for discrimination and prejudice.

We are called to love the brotherhood of believers. This is with an agape, unconditional love. Some give up on Christians. They do not want to fellowship with other Christians because they did that and they were hurt. The Lord calls us to a love that is deeper than that.

We are to fear God. We have a reverent respect and love for God that leads us to a life of obedience. We are told again in this passage to honor the king, both verses 13 and 17.

Submission and the workplace vs. 18-20

This is a section on slaves and masters with a continued theme of submission. Sometimes people in those days would sell themselves into slavery for a time to get ahead financially. Sometimes slaves could be like part of the family. There is an application for the employer and employee I the workplace.

The employee should submit to the boss. Don’t just show respect for a kind boss, but even for an unkind and unjust one. Christians are called to bear up under unjust suffering.

The workplace is stressful enough, but add to that persecution for Christian faith and that makes it exceedingly difficult. Faith believes God can bring something worthwhile out of suffering. When we suffer unjustly let that deepen our faith.

Suffering for wrong is expected, but when you do what is right, stand up for a just cause and because of that you are treated unjustly, then take heart. This is commendable to God. Peter is writing suffering Christians accused or suffering unjustly. Meditate on 1 Peter when you suffer unjustly.

Example of Christ vs. 21-25

Does coming to Christ mean the end of suffering? Sorry, no it does not. To this, suffering, you were called. Christ suffered and left an example of suffering. We have great verses in 21-25 about what Christ’s death on the cross means. Christ suffered for you. He did not retaliate when people made threats and hurled insults at him.

Can you suffer patiently for Him? You should follow in His steps (vs. 21). Jesus set the example of patient suffering. Where does it all begin? To have the patience to submit to authority. To have unconditional love for other. Having a good testimony in the workplace.

It begins when you like a stray sheep return to the shepherd (vs. 25). When you come to Jesus Christ. When Jesus is the Shepherd and overseer of your soul. Then you can start to follow his perfect example. Then Jesus will give you the strength to endure under stress.

Click here to find out more on how to have Jesus as the Shepherd and overseer of your soul.


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