1 Peter 3:18 (NIV84)
18 For Christ died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God. He was put to death in the body but made alive by the Spirit,
Yesterday’s devotion described how the Christian life is marked by struggle. The Apostle Paul explained there is a war that rages inside the Christian as the sinful nature and the new self do battle over whether we will do what God wills or what the devil, world, and our sinful flesh desire. Today we hear from the Apostle Peter that the Christian life is marked by another “s” word – not struggle, but suffering.
Suffering comes into our lives for any number of reasons. Sometimes, it comes just because the world is broken and that brokenness touches our life. Other times, suffering comes into our lives by our own doing. Our own sins often have harmful consequences – broken relationships, the scorn of others, even the loss of physical health.
In the previous verses, Peter encourages Christians to live lives of love, lives of service to others as a result of the faith we have in the One who came to serve and save us. Certainly, we will avoid suffering if we live good lives like that, right? Who would ever want to do us harm for doing good? It seems like no one would, but Peter tells us something different. He says in this world suffering often comes into our lives precisely because we are doing what is right. So whether what we do is good, bad, or neutral, in this life we will suffer. Suffering in this life is unavoidable.
But then Peter tells us this: “It is better, if it is God’s will, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil” (1 Peter 3:17). Suffering is never pleasant. It’s never enjoyable. But it is better for Christians to suffer for being Christians than for any other reason. Why? Because it teaches us to appreciate our Savior’s suffering, which is the only thing that gets us through this life of suffering to the place where we will never suffer again. That’s because Jesus’ suffering was done in our place.
In his life, Jesus Christ suffered. He lived in a broken world just as we do. Yet, unlike you and me, Christ never suffered for the evil he had done because he is righteous. He is absolutely good in God’s eyes. He is perfect. Nevertheless, Christ suffered and died. Peter tells us Christ did that for the unrighteous, for sinners like you and me, to bring us to God. Jesus Christ went through the ultimate suffering that our failures deserve so that we might never face that kind of suffering ever.
Here is the ultimate comfort. After Christ’s suffering and death in our place, he rose again. Christ now lives in exalted glory, never to suffer again. No matter the reason for your suffering here, now you look forward to your own resurrection when you will no longer suffer for anything at all for the sake of Christ.
PRAYER: Lord Jesus, when I must suffer teach me that you once suffered, too, and that by your suffering you have guaranteed for me a life to come where I will never suffer again. Amen.