1 Peter 4 (New Living Translation)
Living for God
1 So then, since Christ suffered physical pain, you must arm yourselves with the same attitude he had, and be ready to suffer, too. For if you have suffered physically for Christ, you have finished with sin. 2 You won’t spend the rest of your lives chasing your own desires, but you will be anxious to do the will of God.
Peter gave us two time references that are helpful in having the right attitude in our following of Jesus Christ.
First, no longer should we live in sin (chasing our own desires), and we should answer every temptation and sinful impulse with the reply, “no longer.” Second, we should carefully consider how to live the rest of our time. God has appointed us some further days on this earth; when each of us must answer to Him how we live this time (being anxious to do the will of God).
3 You have had enough in the past of the evil things that godless people enjoy—their immorality and lust, their feasting and drunkenness and wild parties, and their terrible worship of idols.
4 Of course, your former friends are surprised when you no longer plunge into the flood of wild and destructive things they do. So they slander you. 5 But remember that they will have to face God, who will judge everyone, both the living and the dead. 6 That is why the Good News was preached to those who are now dead—so although they were destined to die like all people, they now live forever with God in the Spirit.
7 The end of the world is coming soon. Therefore, be earnest and disciplined in your prayers.
8 Most important of all, continue to show deep love for each other, for love covers a multitude of sins.
Proverbs 10:12 (NASB)
Hatred stirs up strife,
But love covers all transgressions.
My mother often quoted a proverb which expresses the other side of this coin:
“Faults are thick where love is thin.”
9 Cheerfully share your home with those who need a meal or a place to stay.
Romans 12:12-13 (NIV)
Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Share with God’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.
10 God has given each of you a gift from his great variety of spiritual gifts. Use them well to serve one another. 11 Do you have the gift of speaking? Then speak as though God himself were speaking through you. Do you have the gift of helping others? Do it with all the strength and energy that God supplies. Then everything you do will bring glory to God through Jesus Christ. All glory and power to him forever and ever! Amen.
Suffering for Being a Christian
12 Dear friends, don’t be surprised at the fiery trials you are going through, as if something strange were happening to you. 13 Instead, be very glad—for these trials make you partners with Christ in his suffering, so that you will have the wonderful joy of seeing his glory when it is revealed to all the world.
Peter once told Jesus to avoid the suffering of the cross (Mark 8:32-33). “Once it seemed strange to the Apostle Peter that his Master should think of suffering. Now he thinks it strange that He could have imagined anything else.” (Meyer)
from My Utmost for His Highest,
by Oswald Chambers
PARTAKERS OF HIS SUFFERINGS
If you are going to be used by God, He will take you through a multitude of experiences that are not meant for you at all, they are meant to make you useful in His hands, and to enable you to understand what transpires in other souls so that you will never be surprised at what you come across. Oh, I can’t deal with that person. Why not? God gave you ample opportunity to soak before Him on that line, and you barged off because it seemed stupid to spend time in that way.
The sufferings of Christ are not those of ordinary men. He suffered “according to the will of God,” not from the point of view we suffer from as individuals. It is only when we are related to Jesus Christ that we can understand what God is after in His dealings with us. It is part of Christian culture to know what God’s aim is. In the history of the Christian Church the tendency has been to evade being identified with the sufferings of Jesus Christ; men have sought to procure the carrying out of God’s order by a short cut of their own. God’s way is always the way of suffering, the way of the “long, long trail.”
Are we partakers of Christ’s sufferings? Are we prepared for God to stamp our personal ambitions right out? Are we prepared for God to destroy by transfiguration our individual determinations? It will not mean that we know exactly why God is taking us that way, that would make us spiritual prigs. We never realize at the time what God is putting us through; we go through it more or less misunderstandingly; then we come to a luminous place, and say – ”Why, God has girded me, though I did not know it!”
Acts 5:40-42 (NCV)
The Sanhedrin called the apostles in, beat them, and told them not to speak in the name of Jesus again. Then they let them go free. The apostles left the meeting full of joy because they were given the honor of suffering disgrace for Jesus. Every day in the Temple and in people’s homes they continued teaching the people and telling the Good News—that Jesus is the Christ.
“If every call to Christ and His righteousness is a call to suffering, the converse is equally true–every call to suffering is a call to Christ, a promotion, an invitation to come up higher.”
–Charles Brent (1862-1929)
14 So be happy when you are insulted for being a Christian, for then the glorious Spirit of God rests upon you. 15 If you suffer, however, it must not be for murder, stealing, making trouble, or prying into other people’s affairs. 16 But it is no shame to suffer for being a Christian. Praise God for the privilege of being called by his name! 17 For the time has come for judgment, and it must begin with God’s household. And if judgment begins with us, what terrible fate awaits those who have never obeyed God’s Good News? 18 And also,
“If the righteous are barely saved,
what will happen to godless sinners?”
19 So if you are suffering in a manner that pleases God, keep on doing what is right, and trust your lives to the God who created you, for he will never fail you.
All this suffering — and for what? Ah, believer, look what awaits you! HERE is “Den Store Hvide Flok” sung in Norwegian (as it was at my mother’s funeral). Words in English below. I love this hymn.
Who is this host arrayed in white
Like thousand snow-clad mountains bright,
That stands with palms and sings its psalms
Before the throne of light?
These are the saints who kept God’s Word;
They are the honored of the Lord.
He is their prince who drowned their sins
So they were cleansed, restored.
They now serve God both day and night;
They sing their songs in endless light.
Their anthems ring when they all sing
With angels shining bright.
On earth their work was not thought wise,
But see them now in heaven’s eyes;
Before God’s throne of precious stone
They shout their vict’ry cries.
On earth they wept through bitter years;
Now God has wiped away their tears,
Transformed their strife to heavenly life,
And freed them from their fears.
For now they have the best at last;
They keep their sweet eternal feast,
At God’s right hand our Lord commands;
He is both host and guest.
O blessed saints, now take your rest;
A thousand times shall you be blest
For keeping faith firm unto death
And scorning worldly trust.
For now you live at home with God
And harvest seeds once cast abroad
In tears and sigh. See with new eyes
The pattern in the seed.
The myriad angels raise their song.
O, saints, sing with that happy throng;
Lift up one voice; let heav’n rejoice
In our Redeemer’s song!