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Last time we saw that Peter reminded us that we are not from here and instructed us to prove it by living a lifestyle with excellent behavior, an honorable life, a life filled with good deeds that would silence foolish men. He calls for Christians to be submissive. That is where we will pick it up this morning.
Our Scripture is from 1 Peter 2:18-25. Please take a minute and read this great passage.
Peter says we should have an unworldly attitude. Verse 18 challenges servants to be submissive to their master. Peter is not endorsing slavery although slavery was prevalent during his time. Servant in this verse means a domestic servant or one who lives in the same household. The application is for all of us. The challenge is to not only be submissive, but to be submissive with reverence. Reverence means a feeling of profound awe and respect and often love. The really difficult challenge Peter gives us is to be submissive, “not only to those who are good and gentle, but also to those who are unreasonable.” This is the heart of Christianity. We are called to do something that is completely out of our character. It is relatively easy to submit to the authority of someone who is “good and gentle,” someone who loves and cares for you. But how can we submit to those who are unreasonable? This is more than not listening to reason. The word means crooked, perverse, wicked, unfair. That is hard. We can apply this verse not only to household relationships, but also to relationships with our employers.
Most people want to do a good job, especially for someone who is a great boss or a great leader. How can you do a good job to someone who is wicked or perverse? The easy answer is you must rely on God to help you. It is more difficult than that. Why would Peter tell us to do something that looks nearly impossible? The answer lies in v. 19. “For this finds favor, if for the sake of conscience toward God a person bears up under sorrows when suffering unjustly.” Favor here means that which affords joy, pleasure, and delight. It delights the Lord when we are submissive to people who are unreasonable. It doesn’t mean that the Lord delights in the unreasonableness of the person, the Lord delights in our response. Our attitude should be that God has allowed us to be in a particular situation, and we should remind ourselves that by graciously serving others we are serving God Himself. This is the evidence of a real relationship with Christ. Peter completes his justification for this in v. 20. “For what credit is there if, when you sin and are harshly treated, you endure it with patience? But if when you do what is right and suffer for it you patiently endure it, this finds favor with God.” Harshly literally means to strike with a fist. What’s the big deal if you get hit after you sin? It brings God no glory if we endure punishment for bad behavior. If you must endure the consequence for your sin, even if you do it with a good attitude, there is no glory in that. You deserved it. The difference is when you did no wrong and are punished. Anybody can repay good with good or evil with evil. If someone mistreats you and you mistreat them back, it does not glorify the Lord. Rom. 12:17 says, “Never pay back evil for evil to anyone.”
We should have an unworldly attitude and we should follow an unworldly example. “For you have been called for this purpose, since Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example for you to follow in His steps.” (1 Pet. 2:21) Christ is our example. Example literally means a writing copy including all the letters of the alphabet, given to beginners as an aid in learning to draw them. Christ is a pattern to be followed. “Follow in His steps” gives the idea of walking directly in His footsteps with the intention imitating Christ as closely as possible. The things in which we are to follow Christ’s example are found in the next verses. Vs. 22-23 go on to say, “WHO COMMITTED NO SIN, NOR WAS ANY DECEIT FOUND IN HIS MOUTH; and while being reviled, He did not revile in return; while suffering, He uttered no threats, but kept entrusting Himself to Him who judges righteously.” Jesus committed no crime, said nothing wrong, never had an ill thought about anyone, never flew off the handle, never listened to gossip, was never envious or jealous, never greedy, He never committed a sin. He was completely holy in all His behavior. He was harshly treated even though He did nothing wrong. Matt. 26:67: “Then they spat in His face and beat Him with their fists; and others slapped Him.” Matt. 27:30: “They spat on Him, and took the reed and began to beat Him on the head.” As He suffered, He did not threaten retribution. No matter what happened to Him, He maintained His holiness. He endured the harsh treatment patiently providing us with the ultimate example of personal behavior.
Verse 25 says, “For you were continually straying like sheep, but now you have returned to the Shepherd and Guardian of your souls.” We were like sheep without a shepherd. We wandered around following our own path. We had no one to protect us. No warn to warn us of danger. No one to help us when we fall. This is the way we were before God recovered us through the death of His only Son. But as Christians, we now have that shepherd we so desperately need.
Jesus Christ is our example. He is our pattern. We should follow His example in all we do.