GRACE TO SUFFER FOR CHRIST
Turn the Other Cheek
1 Peter 2:18-25
Jerry A Collins
v How can I respect authority over me that is unreasonable?
v Why should I submit to unreasonable authority?
v What does Christ teach me about suffering unjustly?
One of the most challenging tests of our spiritual walk, is the test of submitting to authority. That testing begins from a very young age in the home. It progresses to teachers, coaches, aunts, uncles, govt and employers. The problem comes when we believe that we are being unjustly treated by any of these authorities. How are we to respond? What is the kind of response that is pleasing to God? In our passage we will learn that God expects us to patiently endure personal injustice. Our old nature patched, and nailed, and knotted together with it’s experiences, learned behaviors, and garnished with home-spun wisdom learned on the way, will want to take over and guide us in our response to personal injustices. God still expects us, demands of us, that we patiently endure unjust treatment from superiors. The setting here for this discussion is the servant-master, paralleling today, the employer-employee relationship. So what is Peter conveying to us about this issue?
1. PATIENTLY ENDURE UNJUST TREATMENT BECAUSE THAT IS PLEASING TO GOD 18-20
Patiently endure unjust treatment 18
Servants The word for
servant suggests one doing service within a household. Not comparable to the 18th-19th
century degrading of slaves in
Submissive To be sure, there were some good and considerate masters. But there may have been the possibility of as many unreasonable. The description is skolios meaning crooked, curved or bent. So they could be dishonest, or morally evil (Acts ; Phil ). They could be unfair, unethical, indulgent or liars—about pay, working conditions. They may not keep their promises. They may say one thing and do another. Our response—a mental attitude of acceptance of the legal and economical authority over us, along with a willingness to comply anyway. This is a command not an option. Much easier to do when you understand that God is your boss.
Patiently endure because God is pleased 19-20 Commendable Twice it refers to being in God’s favor when we do this. What finds favor with God we sometimes find very strange. God surprises us but let’s us know what He is thinking and it is not the way we would think to do.
Praiseworthy if we do so for conscious sake toward God 19
So it is the kind of action that is endured while one is mindful of God. It is not just enduring personal injustice with a stoic tenacity. But a trusting awareness of God’s presence and loving care. It is the confidence that God will ultimately right all wrongs that enables me to submit to an unjust master without resentment, self-pity or despair. And this is done when injustice produces suffering that is sorrowful or brings us grief. This word is never used for physicals pain in the NT. It is the mental anguish that the injustice produces which we experience. It brings grief into my life that is undeserved but I endure it with God in mind. Living vertically. This, God says, gains God’s approval—the recipient of His favor in your life.
No virtue in deserved suffering 20 There is no credit that accrues to your account for enduring punishment when you are wrong. Many know they are getting what they deserve when they have done something wrong and bear the punishment without complaint. It is far different when you do right and suffer. Patiently enduring that is a surprising response mindful of God. All of this used by God to conform us into the image of Jesus Christ. So, for employees; (1) Treat employers with respect. (2) Treat bad employers the same as good ones. (3) Suffer injustice knowing God is pleased. (4) Work for God not your employer.
2. WE ARE CALLED TO SUFFER, LIKE CHRIST SUFFERED, TO SAVE US 21-25
We are called to suffer 21 We have also been called by God out of darkness into His marvelous light 2:9; called to return blessing for cursing 3:9; called to His eternal glory in Christ 5:10. Here we are called to trusting God while suffering unjustly (1 Pt 5:9; 1 Thess 3:3; 2 Tim ). We are not to shrink from it. But why this calling? Because suffering was part of the life of Christ we are to imitate in our lives. The emphasis here is on Christ’s suffering not His death—suffering which becomes a pattern for us. His perfect obedience when unjustly suffering is example of being pleasing in God’s site. We can apply that suffering in several ways:
(1) Jesus was completely innocent in word and deed 22 The NT affirms Jesus sinlessness in Mt 27:4; Jn ; 1 Cor ; Heb 4:15; 1 Jn 3:5). Jesus committed no sin during His unjust treatment—He did not do one thing or say one thing that was sinful. God requires of us perfect sinlessness even when under the intense pressure created by personal injustice. A requirement that was fulfilled by Christ as an example for us. All 4 verses dependent upon Isa 53. Vs 22 quotes Isa 53;9; 23 alludes to 53:7; 24 includes phrases of 53:12; 25 echoes 53:6.
(2) Jesus never retaliated suffering silently before God 23 He made no threats to get even some day. He did not resist with a riot or takeover. He suffered in silence leaving judgment to His Father. He was not insulting or abusive. God is in control and Jesus knew it. The entire situation was given to His Father. And He kept doing that. When we understand that God has our bests interests at heart in every situation we can entrust it to Him. When we don’t—we threaten, seek revenge, desire to retaliate and get even. Jesus did not believe in therapeutic value of expressing your anger when wronged nor trying to merely suppress it—but proactively place it in God’s hands. Jesus was conscious that God is the judge.
(3) Jesus suffered unjustly with higher purpose of giving salvation 24 The humiliation associated with the cross and His patient endurance of it brot us the wonderful gift of salvation. The Father counted our sins against Christ and then punished Him for them. The purpose was to bear our sin and free us to be righteous in God’s eyes. Christ took our punishment and thru that we were spiritually healed. The cross equals humiliation
(4) Jesus now guides and protects those committed to His care 25 We had no direction—straying but now we have returned in salvation to Him. This one who suffered unjustly, now comforts, guards and guides us as we suffer injustice too.
1. God is more interested in the process than the problem. God wants us to honor the process suffering brings our way expecially associated with unfairness, of superiors with authority. It is theru this process and not around it that God’s work of conforming us to Christ is accomplished.
2. God can make good out of unjust treatment. God has given us a roadmap for suffering—the example of His own Son. Follow it, study it, apply it, live it.
3. God may use your example to bring one to Himself. God can use our innocent suffering to draw others to faith 2:12.
4. Since this is not heaven yet we must expect unjust treatment. Thank the Lord that there will be none in heaven. In meantime expect it and respond as Jesus did—then you will be approved by God.