“For this is a gracious thing, when, mindful of God, one endures sorrows while suffering unjustly. For what credit is it if, when you sin and are beaten for it, you endure? But if when you do good and suffer for it you endure, this is a gracious thing in the sight of God. For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps. “
(1 Peter 2:19-21 ESV)
At the beginning of 1st Peter 2, the Holy Spirit lists out in some detail what I am as a result of being redeemed: Living Stones, Holy Priesthood, Chosen and Precious, Royal, a people for His own possession, People who are free, and more.
It occurs to me that there is a reason for these descriptive lists, an implication that is necessary for me to know and embrace what I am in Christ as described in this letter.
It is what potentially happens to servants.
I fall into the trap of picking apart scriptures like Peter, Paul, and all the others wrote a series of essays and put them all together in a document meaning to distribute them all across the Christian churches of the time—find the essay that fit my mood and I was good. Don’t look at the tough parts; look at the parts that make me feel good, empowered, positive.
I have to remember that these were letters meaning to address issues that the Holy Spirit put on their hearts according to their knowledge of the churches, observation of the churches conduct, and quite frankly prophetic insight into the churches struggles, successes, current plights, and certain futures.
I saw that this chapter of 1st Peter could have been cherry picked into various “Sunday School” observations. But—what was the Holy Spirit saying to me? What did I need to learn; to be reminded of; to be corrected or encouraged by? Where was the “active and living Sword of the Spirit” for me in this chapter?
It is in verse 19 through 21: Enduring sorrows, enduring suffering, enduring wrong when wrong isn’t justified.
Scripture shows me clearly that when I deserve a whack and I get it there is no complaint because I am only getting what I deserve. I might complain “unjust” but clearly I know that most times justice has been served.
It is when something happens that I don’t deserve that my self-defense mechanism goes up. I rush to “set the record straight”, to defend myself, to emphatically seek retribution, restitution, and defend my honor (such as it is). It can be as little as being cut off by another car (“Why did they do that; now I am going to be late” or something like that.). I want to do that right now at work concerning an issue.
From any large thing to any and very small thing I want “me” to be treated right and just.
But, if I am called to be like my Savior, then shouldn’t I expect to be treated wrong from time to time? He didn’t complain; should I? “When He was reviled, he did not revile in return…but continued entrusting Himself to Him who judges justly. (v23)
That’s what I want to be like. That is what I am called to be.
Father. Lord God. Even being redeemed, sin crouches at my door. It wants to assert itself in the form of self-defense, selfishness, self-determination, and so many other “self-‘s” that it is dizzying to think about. My heart beats hard within my chest screaming to “make me right” and everyone else wrong.
But my desire for self-justification is wrong. Help me please to see Your Hand in all that I encounter. Your desire is to make me in the image of Your Son, My Lord. I know even if I look lightly at the guy in the mirror, there is a lot of work there to do. I want to be like You…a disciple…a learner…embracing Your Word in my life where I need to work at being a Christian. Help me grit my teeth, set my face with determination and be that kind of man.