Summary: In this lesson, we cover the principles for living for Christ, so that we may received the best blessings, even in the worst of persecution.
A. I like this picture – Don’t you know that that car never saw it coming!
1. In some respects life is unpredictable and we need to learn to expect the unexpected.
2. When it comes to the Christian life, there is not much that is unexpected.
3. Jesus tried to prepare us for everything we will face – the good and the bad; the easy and the hard.
4. Jesus never tried to hide the fact following Him would not be easy.
5. As a matter of fact, Jesus said, “If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. 19 If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you. 20 Remember what I told you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also.” (Jn. 15:18-20)
6. Jesus ended that same presentation to His disciples saying: “33 I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (Jn. 16:33)
B. As Christians, then, we should be prepared for the expected – which will include persecution.
1. But as we prepare for persecution we should do so not as someone preparing for the worst, but someone preparing for the best.
C. The story is told of a preacher who was in the hospital facing a serious surgery.
1. A new nurse came on duty and looked at his chart.
2. The nurse said to him, “Well, I guess you’re preparing for the worst!”
3. The minister smiled at her and said, “Oh, no, I’m preparing for the best. I’m a Christian, and God has promised to work all things together for good.”
4. Needless to say, the nurse exited the room in a hurry.
D. One of the reasons that Peter wrote this letter was to prepare Christians for the persecution that lay ahead, yet Peter’s approach was optimistic and positive.
1. “Prepare for the best!” was his message.
2. This passage speaks to all who would live godly lives in the midst of a hostile, ungodly culture.
3. The apostle Peter gives us important principles that will equip us to act appropriately in the midst of persecution.
4. Let’s work at applying these principles to our lives so that we can experience the best of blessings, even in the worst of times.
I. Principle #1: Be Zealous for What is Good
A. Peter began: 13 Who is going to harm you if you are eager to do good?
1. Peter’s rhetorical question shows that it is unusual for most people, even those hostile to Christianity, to harm believers who are zealous for what is good.
2. When we are passionately pursuing kindness and mercy and generosity and humility and thoughtfulness and consideration for the needs of others, then there is little for others to criticize.
B. Being zealous for what is good produces a godly life, which should be the goal and delight of all disciples of Jesus.
1. So this is always a good place for us to start – are we zealous for what is good?
2. Do we love the things of God and the things that are right and good?
3. Are we committed to pure living and positive actions toward others?
4. The first response to a hostile world that Peter encourages is for us to be zealous in doing good.
II. Principle #2: Be Willing to Suffer for Doing Right.
A. Peter continued: 14 But even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed…17 For it is better, if it is God’s will, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil. (3:14, 17)
1. Peter wants us to understand that goodness on our part is not a guaranteed blanket of protection from attack.
2. It certainly helps make an attack less likely or less frequent, but since the darkness hates the light, in the end it will do all in its power to snuff it out.
3. Jesus went about doing good, yet a hostile world eventually killed Him.
B. Concerning suffering, there are two possibilities.
1. First, we may suffer for doing wrong, if so we are getting what we deserve.
a. As our heavenly parent, God will discipline us when we disobey His Word. (Heb. 12:5-11)
2. Second, the other possibility is that we may suffer for doing right.
a. When this happens we must accept our suffering as part of God’s wise and sovereign plan for blessing our lives.
b. God sometimes wills that we suffer for righteousness so that we might receive the blessings that come out of such suffering.