Sharing Christ’s sufferings
1 Peter 4:13-15 (ESV)
“But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when His glory is revealed. If you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you. But let none of you suffer as a murderer or a thief or an evildoer or as a meddler.”
Suffering is a part of life. It is something we all deal with and we all experience. Sometimes, it is from the loss of someone we love. Other times, it is the result of our own poor choices. In the passage above, Peter makes a distinction that we must recognize. That distinction is suffering as a result of our love for Christ vs. suffering because of our own sin.
When we experience suffering for our faith, Peter tells us that we must rejoice. For this is sharing in the suffering of our savior. This is important to understand. Our suffering because of our faith is not in vain. We are suffering because we are doing the right thing. We are being insulted because we are serving a just cause. We experience loss because God is the one who deserves our service.
However, not all suffering we go through as a Christian is because we are a Christian. This is very important for us to understand. Sometimes, our suffering is because we are sinning. If we experience loss or suffering or trials, it is not always because we are right in our actions. If we get fired from a job because we are lazy, we are not suffering because of Christ. We are suffering because of our sin. If we are arrested because we stole something, we are not enduring persecution for our faith.
This is the encouragement that Peter offers: we must make sure that, in our suffering, we are suffering for Christ and not our sin. We must be acutely aware of our experience and the consequences of our own actions. We do not want to claim that we are suffering for Christ when the opposite is true. This will require a great deal of discernment on our part, but it also means that we must surround ourselves with godly men and women who can help us in our situation.
This week, if you are in the midst of suffering, first and foremost, pray that God would help you during this time. If it is a result of sin, surrender that sin to God and He will help you. If you are suffering for the sake of Christ, rejoice as Christ will bring you through.