Summary: How to handle trials, unfairness and inustice
Making the Most of a Bad Situation
ILL.- On Veterans Day a Boulder, Colorado, man parked his car in a metered area. Noting a sign saying “Sundays and Holidays Excepted,” he didn’t put in a coin. But his car was ticketed, and he went to city hall to ask why. It was closed for the holiday except for the police department, where an officer told him Veterans Day wasn’t a holiday as far as parking was concerned. So the man said he’d pay the fine.
But the officer refused his money. “You can’t pay your fine today,” he said. “City hall is closed today because this is a holiday.” TALK ABOUT INJUSTICE!
Wouldn’t that just burn you? That’s not fair.
If you live in this world (and you do) you will experience some unjust suffering. Life is unjust. Upon accepting an award, the late Jack Benny once remarked, “I really don’t deserve this. But I have arthritis, and I don’t deserve that either.”
Let’s go back into I Peter and see the situation as he describes it.
The word Peter uses here for slaves in verse 18, is not the usual word for slaves. It has a broader meaning – so both slaves and servants are addressed. Really this is addressing anyone who is not – the boss,
AND in verse 19 he lays down a more general principle, which applies to all believers. Peter is addressing a general concept of service – rather than the institution of slavery.
Slavery in Roman times was much different than slavery in America. It certainly wasn’t built upon race. Though a majority of slaves came from conquered nations, and children of slaves….many people sold themselves into slavery, it might actually be considered a step up for them. They might be able to live in a house with better accommodations than people who lived on the streets. That means they would get to sleep inside. They would be fed, and they would be given clothing.
And it wasn’t just the menial tasks were performed by slaves. Some doctors, teachers, musicians, secretaries were slaves. In fact pretty much all the work in Rome was done by slaves. Unless you had a lot of money, in Rome, you were a slave. Not every slave had a miserable life, many slaves were loved and trusted and were thought of as part of the family.
Now since Peter is addressing servants in relation to their masters we’re going to apply this teaching to today’s workplace—and that shouldn’t twist the passage too much. Do workers today suffer unjustly? Sure. So, even if Peter is talking about slaves here, he is not talking about slavery. He is telling us how to live our Christian life, in a Godly manner; in whatever circumstances we find ourselves in, especially when we are in difficult circumstance.
Look at their bad situation:
Vs. 18 they are unreasonable, NIV says harsh…actually it means crooked!
Vs. 19 bears up under sorrows when suffering unjustly
This passage is about righteous conduct in an unrighteous society – like America. Doing the right thing- when people are not doing the right thing to you. Treating others well – even when they don’t treat you well. Now let me be clear; Peter doesn’t say don’t get out of a bad situation. I think he would agree, if you’re in a bad situation, work on getting out of it. But while you are in that situation – live in a Godly manner. Being in a bad situation in life is not an excuse for bad conduct. If these slaves acted rebelliously, they would ruin their opportunity to worship and probably ruin any hope of reaching their world for Jesus Christ.
Is Peter’s message practical for us today? It sure is. We are here to serve Jesus Christ in everything we do. Whether our life circumstances right now are great, or our life circumstances are bad and getting worse. Whether people are treating us right, or they are completely unfair, we still are to act as righteous people.
There is a way to be joyful in the midst of trials. It is not being happy about the trouble. It is finding joy in what the trouble produces. It is enjoying the sweet fruit produced only by bitter times.
One of the writers of the Psalms, when he was a slave in Babylonia asked the question: “How can I sing the songs of Zion in a strange land?” How can I be happy when I’m in exile? How can I have peace and joy?
How are we supposed to act when treated poorly?
I. Vs. 18 be submissive
Notice that vs. 19 says, “for the sake of conscience toward God” = you are doing it for God’s sake. You are serving God. You are living in the sight of God. You are accountable to God. Submit to your boss as though you were submitting to God.