Jesus told Peter, and now Peter tells us—Christians are going to be insulted and persecuted for believing in Jesus. So the fact that life is hard shouldn’t come as a surprise. Peter then goes on to elaborate on how Christians should live in spite of the mistreatment.
“The more Christians are unlike the world, the more it hates us; the more we are like our Lord, the more the world will persecute us.” —Horatius Bonar
How should Christians respond to insults and persecution? Peter outlines the Christian’s response in 1 Peter 4:12-19—
—dear friends, do not be surprised (v. 12). I like this verse in the Amplified Bible: Do not be amazed and bewildered at the fiery ordeal which is taking place to test your quality, as though something strange (unusual and alien to you and your position) were befalling you. After all, Jesus told us this was coming (see John 15:18-20).
—but rejoice that you participate in the sufferings of Christ (v. 13a). Notice that this should be the sufferings OF Christ, not of our own making.
—let suffering lead to Spirit-led reflection (notice the if’s in vv. 14-18, and the if’s in what Jesus said in John 15:18-20). We need to make sure our suffering is because we’re standing for Jesus, not because we’re being jerks! David asked God to check if his actions were the cause of his persecution (Psalm 7:3-4) and we should too. If we discover that we’re the one to blame, quickly apologize, ask for forgiveness, and make things right.
—keep your focus on when His glory is revealed (v. 13b). Time is short, and the rewards are sure so don’t remain focused on the immediate pain, but look up to the longterm gain.
—do not be ashamed to suffer for Jesus (v. 16). Jesus told us not to be ashamed of Him because He is not ashamed of us (Luke 9:26; Hebrews 2:11).
—stay committed to your faithful Creator (v. 19a). Staying committed means getting even closer to God in the hard times.
—continue to do good (v. 19b). What does continue to do good look like? Peter lists things like being self-controlled, helping others that are being persecuted, showing proper respect, having a good work ethic, not trading insult for insult, and many other commands. Bottom line: doing good means living like Jesus lived while He was on Earth (see Acts 10:38).
So, Christian, I’ve got two questions for you—
How are you handling insults and persecution? Are you continuing to do good despite the mistreatment?
Remember Jesus is coming soon, and His rewards are with Him for how we have lived. “Behold, I am coming soon, and I shall bring My wages and rewards with Me, to repay and render to each one just what his own actions and his own work merit.” —Jesus (Revelation 22:12)