God is with you - Part 32
1 Peter 4v15-19
Praise God that you bear that name
12th January 2018
Today we complete our study of 1 Peter 4v14-19, which is the last passage in this letter that talks about suffering, injustice and persecution. Peter writes:
1 Peter 4v15-19
So, to continue,
1 Peter 4v15
We all know we shouldn't murder or steal, but some of us can be meddlers. Some of us like to interfere in each other's lives. Some of us like to tell others where they're going wrong all the time. Some of us can be a bit judgemental. But if you judge somebody else it doesn't say anything about them, it just says something about you.
Don't be a meddler. Don't be a busybody. Don't be critical. Be an encourager whenever you possibly can, and the spirit of glory and of God (verse 14) will rest upon you.
1 Peter 4v16
If, because you're a Christian or because you're trying to live like one, whether you're persecuted from outside the church or inside, the most important thing you have is that you are His. And no-one can take that away. Praise God that you suffer because you bear his name.
We can't praise God because we're meddlers, but we can praise God because we're suffering for Him, however imperfectly we try to follow Him.
1 Peter 4v17
In Greek, the word "family" is the same as the word for "household", and the word for "house". And this quote is from a passage in Jeremiah that's talking about judgement in Jerusalem. So you could argue, because this letter was written before the temple was destroyed in 70 AD (in accordance with Jesus's prophecy in Matthew 24) that Peter means that judgement will begin in at the temple in Jerusalem. But I think that, even more than that, Peter means us - the church - which is both the family of God and the New Testament temple of God.
Be very careful if you pray for judgement on the United Kingdom, much as it deserves it, because He's going to judge us first. Judgement occurs in the house of God first.
The great Day of Judgement will come. On that day it will be revealed whether you're a sheep or a goat, whether you're saved or lost. It will be revealed how much joy and treasure you'll get in heaven, or how much pain and suffering you'll get in hell. But God judges us every day.
We're not saved or lost every day, or course, but God will punish wrongdoing now. God will chastise those whom he loves - read Hebrews 12. And when we misbehave, God will find a way to bring us into painful trials. Perhaps there'll be a delay. Perhaps the trial will just be receiving the word of God and realizing, that "O my goodness I'm a sinner". Perhaps the trial will be depression, or whatever it is for you. But we're judged every day. Judgement begins here.
God is far more interested in purifying his people than in sorting out those who are not His people. God cares about us. Judgement begins at the house of God.
God judges us, chastises us, for our good, not for our harm. He doesn't punish us because He's evil or vindictive. He judges our actions and our thoughts, what we say and what we do, because He wants us to become more like Jesus. And He judges that a bit of suffering now to make us more Christ-like, which results in a lot of treasure later, is a good deal for us.
God is for you, and wants the best for you, but His definition of best might not be the same as yours. He wants you to be as ready for heaven as possible, with as much treasure as possible, and he will put you through whatever trial he has to, to get you as ready as possible. Thank you Jesus. Please make me strong enough to get through the trial.
1 Peter 4v18
I sometimes hear people say "It's so hard being a Christian. It's so tough". But if life is hard for us, what's it like for those who don't obey the Gospel of Christ, who don't receive the forgiveness of God, don't experience the comfort of the Holy Spirit, don't have a certain hope of eternal bliss?
It is hard being a Christian but it beats not being a Christian, not just in this life but certainly in the next. I want to be the best Christian I can be, not only for Jesus sake but also because I want a big bag of gold when I get there. Don't you?
And if it's hard for us, what will become of the ungodly and the sinner? Get out there and preach the gospel. Tell the ungodly and the sinner because they need Jesus. The need to hear the truth. They need a chance to obey the Gospel. And how will they believe if we don't tell them?
1 Peter 4v19
Notice: it is God's will that we suffer.
When - not if - we suffer, it's so tempting to do evil! The idea of hiding myself in a bottle or some other kind of sin, is very real. The desire to punch back is real. The desire to do unto others as they've done unto me is palpable. The temptation to sin, either in self-pity, or anger, or judgementalism, or gross immorality of one kind or another, is very strong when we're suffering painful trials. But the apostle tells us to continue to do good.
There's very little commendation from God for us when we do good when it's easy. There's very little commendation from God when we suffer evil but allow it to cause us to commit evil. But there is great commendation from God, it is holy and beautiful and rewarded by God, when we suffer wrong and continue to do good.