Summary: Peter wrote to the strangers scattered abroad because of religious persecution not to think it strange when the fiery trials come as though something strange happened to them. They were rather to rejoice in the trials that come their way.
The Positive Benefits of Negative Things
May 15, 2016, a.m. (1Peter 4:1-19) Command Baptist Church
TEXT: Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you: But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ's sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy, (1Peter. 4:12-13).
This is a dynamic passage in the book of First Peter. There are so many thoughts here that I did not know which way to go. Some of the ten mini-themes running through this passage are: security, (vs 1), sobriety, (vs. 2-5), salvation, (vs. 6), second coming, (vs. 7-8), spiritual gifts, (vs. 9-11), suffering, (vs. 12-16), sentencing, (vs. 17-18,) and surrender, (vs. 19).
I wanted to speak to you about: “Arming yourself with the Mind of Christ,” or the subject: “What will you do with the Rest of Your Time?” But today, I want us to think about the subject of “suffering” or “trials.” As you know already, Peter has much to say about trials in this epistle. It was written for that very reason. He wrote it to strangers and spiritual pilgrims that were scattered abroad and persecuted for the faith.
When we think about suffering we cannot help but think of verse twelve where Peter said, “Think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you…” Neither you nor I like to suffer trials. If you asked me if I’d rather enjoy the blessings of God or the trials of life, brothers and sisters, I’ll choose the blessings. However, it is not in the blessings of God that His confirmatory work is accomplished in the life of the believer. This comes through the trials that “test” us.
Saying you like the “fiery trials” of life is like saying you prefer a hospital room to an oceanfront beach cottage. We’d much rather be on vacation than in isolation. We’d much rather be on a hike in the mountains than a walk around the 4th floor of Iredell Memorial Hospital. We’d much rather enjoy a leisurely rock on the front porch of a mountain paradise than sitting in a hospital chair in a private room rehabbing from sickness or surgery.
Why all of the hype about suffering? The reason for it is because it’s REAL! At some time on your life you’re going to go through trials and suffering. You may experience it just because you live in a temporal house in need of repair or you may experience it because you are a Christian believer and your faith is on trial. Whatever the reason, I just want you to know that it is real and that there are some positive things that can emerge from it.
Don’t think that every time something negative happens to you it’s because you did something wrong. Now, it might be that what you’re experiencing has come upon you because of your own self-indulgence or lack or discipline. That happens, but it might be that the “fiery trial” you are enduring has been sent to help you.
My challenge to everyone here, including myself, is this:
BI - “When going through the fiery trials of life, don’t focus on the blame, but rather on the benefit of the outcome of the trial you are experiencing.”
Ask yourself this question, “What is God doing in my life and how can this trial make me better for the cause of Christ and the glory of God?” With that in mind, let me share three positive effects that can come from negative trials and suffering. First,
1. Trials and Suffering Purify Believers - (vs. 1-6)
What is the difference between the times when life is tranquil or tough? When life is tranquil we stroll through the park as though we haven’t a care in the world. When life is easy we mistakenly think that we have everything under control. When life is calm it is easy to drift away from the things that anchor our souls. When life is easy we tend to think that we are in need of no one or nothing. We develop an, “I got this” attitude.
But then come the trials. What happens then? We feel like we got the wind knocked out of our sails! We begin to question and doubt. We wonder what we did to deserve this? It is then that we realize that we are not the self-sufficient individuals we thought ourselves to be. It is the trials of life that God uses to purify us. According to Peter, trials do three things in the believer’s life that benefit him. First, trials:
A. Connect the believer to the suffering of His Lord, (vs. 1).