1 Peter 4:12-16 (NIV) 12 Dear friends, do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering, as though something strange were happening to you. 13 But rejoice that you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed. 14 If you are insulted because of the name of Christ, you are blessed, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you. 15 If you suffer, it should not be as a murderer or thief or any other kind of criminal, or even as a meddler. 16 However, if you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed, but praise God that you bear that name.
On verses 12-16: It shouldn’t surprise us or seem strange to us whenever we go through painful trials. Jesus Himself said, “In this world you will have trouble, but take heart for I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33) Since suffering and trouble are part of living life on earth, you might as well suffer trouble for the right reasons, says Peter, instead of for the wrong reasons (v15). If you have to suffer, suffer because of your faith in Jesus.
When you suffer because of your faith in Jesus, remember two things. First, because you suffer for your faith, you have a special portion of God’s Spirit and glory – “the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you” (v14). Second, consider it an honour to suffer for your faith in Jesus, for you are being counted worthy to suffer for Jesus’ name. As verse 16 says, “if you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed, but praise God that you bear that name.” May it be an encouragement to you that you’re doing something right, that people are taking notice of your faith in Jesus when you suffer for it. It reminds me of how when the apostles in Acts 5:41-42 left the public assembly after being flogged, they went home“rejoicing because they had been counted worthy of suffering disgrace for the Name”. Sometimes there can be a certain sweetness that comes with suffering for your faith in Jesus.
1 Peter 4:17-19 (NIV) 17 For it is time for judgment to begin with the family of God; and if it begins with us, what will the outcome be for those who do not obey the gospel of God? 18 And, “If it is hard for the righteous to be saved, what will become of the ungodly and the sinner?” 19 So then, those who suffer according to God’s will should commit themselves to their faithful Creator and continue to do good.
On verses 17-19: As a loving Father, God disciplines us His children for our good (Hebrews 12:10). Hebrews 12:7 in fact encourages us to see all hardship that we endure as discipline from God in some way – discipline that is meant to refine us, train us and make us stronger in the end (Hebrews 12:11). To paraphrase Peter in verses 17-18, “If God disciplines and judges us His family by allowing us to go through hardship and suffering, how much harder will it be for those who are outside that family and who reject God?”
Because God loves us and always disciplines us for our good, we can run to Him, commit ourselves to Him and keep doing good even after we have suffered (v19).
Heavenly Father, thank You for those times when I get to suffer because of my faith in Jesus. Thank You for teaching me that to suffer for You is an honour and a blessing, because I get to bear Your name and experience a special portion of Your glory and Your Spirit in doing so. In Jesus’ name, AMEN!