Scripture: 1 Peter 3: 13-4:6
Key verses: (16-17) “. . . Keep your conscience clear, so that, when you are maligned, those who abuse you for your good conduct in Christ may be put to shame. For it is better to suffer for doing good, if suffering should be God’s will, than to suffer for doing evil.”
Reflection: There are times in life when we suffer for doing the right thing. Unfortunately, we live in a time when many people try to get away with things they know are wrong. Failing to take responsibility for their actions, they do everything they can to hide their guilt. It is easy to talk yourself into believing you are doing the right thing, even if it’s wrong, especially when self-interest is involved. Jesus taught us some things that seem odd to the world – loving your enemies; forgiving the person who has hurt you; turning the other cheek and not judging others. Jesus suffered for doing the right thing and as his followers we might suffer, too.
The author of today’s text reminds us to hold on to our faith and not give in to fear and intimidation. We are to be ready to defend the hope that is within us. This living hope we have been given in Jesus Christ needs to be shared. We need to be ready to address injustice, neglect, abuse and inhumanity. Not just some of the time, but all the time. We are called to move out into the world with gentleness and reverence. Following the example of Jesus, we are called to love, to serve and to offer hope to others through tangible acts of mercy and compassion. This doesn’t mean we won’t make mistakes. We will. But, hopefully, our actions won’t keep the persistent hope we have been given by God from shining through. May we live in the power of the Holy Spirit so that others seeing us might see the hope we have in Jesus. And, if we are punished for doing good and living out our faith, we are in good company.
Prayer: Loving God, help us to do what is right – not according to our will, but according to yours. We know your thoughts are not our thoughts and your ways are not our ways. Keep us from destructive pride and judgmental attitudes toward others. Help us to turn away from doing evil as we pursue peace. May the hope we have received from you take root in our hearts as we follow Jesus. In his name we pray. Amen.
Author: Deborah Conner
[Scripture quotations are from New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved].