First Peter 4:19 gives us Peter’s final word on suffering offenses and persecution in this evil world. Here are his words:
So then, those who suffer according to God’s will should commit themselves to their faithful Creator and continue to do good.
From the very beginning of his letter, Peter sees suffering as a normal experience for Christians living as “elect exiles” who do not belong to this world (1 Peter 1:1). This world, of course, has always been antagonistic against God, preferring to indulge in the fleeting pleasures of sin and to live life according to what is right in its own eyes. And if the world is antagonistic against God, it will certainly be antagonistic against God’s people, too.
Our hearts have been prepared for this. In 1 Peter 4:4, Peter has reminded us that the world thinks it strange when Christians choose not to pursue the same evil passions it pursues (c.f. 1 Peter 4:3). And their surprise leads them to malign followers of Christ. At best, we are criticized or made fun of. But sometimes even our lives are threatened, simply because we make a commitment to do good and reflect Christ in all that we do.
When we are maligned for living in Christlikeness—and it will happen (1 Peter 4:12)—Peter encourages us to commit ourselves to two simple yet powerful things as part of our witness as suffering saints.
Commit Yourself to Your Faithful Creator
Peter’s first encouragement is to commit ourselves to our faithful God. And he does this for good reason. He knows we’re prone to entrust ourselves to other things. Do you remember the scene at Mount Sinai after God gave Moses the Ten Commandments? God’s people had recently been rescued from slavery in Egypt, and while they waited for Moses atop Mount Sinai they grew impatient, and they made for themselves a golden calf to worship, and they said, “These are your gods, O Israel, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt!” (Exodus 32:4). How quickly they lost sight of their Deliverer to trust in things which have no power to save.
While we may not trust in physical idols crafted by human hands, at times we still struggle with entrusting ourselves to other idols in our hearts. Things like our bank accounts, our jobs, our possessions, and even our relationships. How easy it is to trust in these things for security, and yet, they have no power to save nor protect (Psalm 146:3).
Of course, the Lord gives us these things as good gifts to enjoy. But we should be careful to recognize when we place our trust in these things rather than on God. Especially in our trials, when we’re most prone to trust in other things, Peter is encouraging us to place our trust back on the Lord, who is faithful to his people. May we be like David, who sang, “In you, Lord my God, I put my trust” (Psalm 25:1; c.f. Psalm 56:3), because no matter what we face or how we might suffer, our God has always been and always will be faithful to us (Psalm 9:10; 13:5; 22:4; 145:13).
Commit Yourself to Doing Good to All
Peter’s second encouragement is to commit ourselves to doing good. This comes after a long line of Peter directing our hearts toward goodness and holiness (1 Peter 1:14-16; 2:1, 11-12, 15; 3:9, 13, 16-17). The temptation, of course, is to stop doing good or even to retaliate if we suffer offenses. But the whole counsel of God instructs us, time and again, to do good to all, even to our enemies (Matthew 5:43-44; Luke 6:27, 35).
Let’s take Peter’s directives to heart. And let’s ask ourselves, “What can we do to maintain our trust in our faithful Savior? And how can we commit ourselves to doing good?”
Especially as we continue to persevere through the effects of the pandemic, the uncertainty of our times, and the many other trials we walk through, may we be a church that entrusts itself to our faithful God, just as Jesus did in his own suffering (1 Peter 2:23). And may we be known as those who continually do good to all, just like our suffering Servant, who committed to the cross for our good.
By God’s grace alone,