Summary: Don’t fear people. Fear Christ and follow Him from grief to glory. Look to Jesus alone to keep your conscience clear even in the midst of your pain. Then you will enjoy the benefit of pain.
Joanna Lerud of Steamboat Rock, Iowa, was standing up to leave a restaurant when she hit her head hard on a lamp hanging above the table. As she staggered away, she heard an older gentleman, who was sitting nearby, say, “It will feel better when it stops hurting.” (Joanna Lerud, Steamboat Rock, Iowa, “Lite Fare,” Christian Reader; www.PreachingToday.com)
Talk about stating the obvious. Sure it will feel better WHEN it stops hurting, but what about feeling better BEFORE it stops hurting.
As believers in Jesus Christ, we know that life will be great in heaven, but what about enjoying life here on earth even with all its hassles? Sure, the pain will be gone in glory, but what about finding the benefit in pain today? How can we do that? How can we find the blessing in affliction? How can we find the privilege in our problems?
1 Peter 3:13-14 Who is going to harm you if you are eager to do good? But even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed. “Do not fear what they fear; do not be frightened.” (NIV)
If we’re going to find the blessing in pain, especially in those times when we are unfairly treated, then God would say to us…
DON’T FEAR PEOPLE.
Don’t be frightened by their threats. Don’t be stirred up by their attempts at intimidation, because no real harm can come to the believer.
The words here in verse 14 are actually a quote from Isaiah, one of the Old Testament prophets. In that context, the armies of Syria and Israel had allied themselves against the little country of Judah. Everyone in that little country was afraid, but God told Isaiah, “Do not fear what they fear” (Isaiah 8:12).
It would be like God saying to us today, “Don’t fear the extremist, militant, Muslim terrorists like everybody else does.” They’re not the real threat, because they can do the believer no real harm. The worst they can do is kill us, but for the believer in Christ that only means an entrance into heaven.
In the early 1940’s, Nikolai Velimirovic, a Serbian bishop, spoke out against Nazism. As a result, he was arrested and taken to the Dachau concentration camp. This is the prayer he prayed even as he faced the brutality of the Nazi government.
“Bless my enemies, O Lord. Even I bless them and do not curse them. Enemies have driven me into your embrace more than friends have… Just as a hunted animal finds safer shelter than an un-hunted animal does, so have I. Persecuted by enemies, [I have] found the safest sanctuary, having [established] myself beneath your tabernacle, where neither friends nor enemies can slay my soul.” (Bill White, Paramount, California; www.PreachingToday.com)
Jesus said, “Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell” (Matthew 10:28).
If we want to enjoy the benefit of pain, then God would say to us, “Don’t fear people.” Instead…
Revere Him. Regard Him as the holy Lord in your life.
When Isaiah’s little country was invaded by two enemy nations and everybody else was afraid, God told him, “Do not fear what they fear. The LORD Almighty is the one you are to regard as holy, he is the one you are to fear” (Isaiah 8:12-13).
Well here, Peter uses some of that same terminology. Look at verse 15: “But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord.” Literally, “Regard Christ, the Lord, as holy (or special) in your hearts.” You see, Jesus is the only One we are to treat with special respect, not our enemies or anyone else who tries to threaten or intimidate us. If we want to enjoy the benefit of pain, then we must learn to fear Christ in our hearts, not people.
That means, 1st of all, we must treat him with special respect by what we say. We must fear Christ in word. We must show reverence for Christ by what comes out of our mouths.
1 Peter 3:15 But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect. (NIV)
Warren Wiersbe says, “When Jesus Christ is Lord of our lives, each crisis becomes an opportunity for witness.” But this is true only if we’re prepared to give an answer when people ask us how we can have so much hope when we’re in so much pain.