Summary: There is suffering as a consequence of sin AND of doing good. Understanding helps ministering to the hurting around us.
February 21, 2018
Reading: 1 Peter 3:18-22
Focus on the Ministry NOT the Suffering
The first thing that came to mind, as I was reading 1 Peter 3:18-22 was that Jesus could very well have coined that phrase “No good deed goes unpunished”. Jesus did so much good for so many people and He suffered horribly for it. Did He suffer for doing good? Absolutely not! Did He suffer? Absolutely! Why? Jesus suffered for you and for me and for all mankind. It wasn’t the act of doing good in and of itself. It was the consequence of that followed. At some point, there is recompense for everything we do good and bad. We reap all kinds of rewards for doing good and Christ made the recompense for all mankind, for all time for what is not good.
So, you may say, “Wait a minute, I did ‘this that or the other’ for someone and all I got was grief”. That does happen, but that grief is temporary, and the real reward is building up and waiting for you in heaven. That’s what it’s all about!
When we recite the Apostle’s Creed, we are reminded that when Jesus died on the cross, He descended to hell for three days before He ascended to heaven. Peter tells us that He descended to hell to make proclamation to the imprisoned spirits (verse 19).
What are we to make of this reading? Well at least two things. There are two kinds of suffering. One of course is the automatic consequence of sin.
“Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. Whoever sows to please their flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction; whoever sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life.” Galatians 6:7-8
The other suffering is the result of doing good. If we go back and take a hard look at every important prophet and leader throughout biblical history, every single one of them suffered greatly for doing good.
Most of them also faced consequences for sinful deeds, as well, just like you and me!
“But even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed. “Do not fear their threats; do not be frightened.” 1 Peter 3:14
“Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.” Matthew 5:11-12
I don’t know about you but when I see suffering among close friends and loved ones, it tears at my heartstrings. I hurt right along with them. Even when our little Pekinese pup was suffering with bladder stones and we didn’t realize she was sick until we took her to the vet, I was very upset and hurting until she totally recuperated. Just like you, I could list pages of times when I hurt deeply because someone that I cherish as a friend or loved one suffered.
If that is so – and it is! Just think how much God loves us and feels our pain and anguish when we suffer for doing good. We may never quite grasp the entirety of the “WHY”. What we can understand is that when we do good for others, there is that GOOD and just as Jesus suffered doing good for others we can also suffer doing good for others. Only God knows the balance and it is in accordance with His will.
Please join me in praying “His will be done!” Let us pray