Stewards of God’s Grace
4 Since therefore Christ suffered in the flesh, arm yourselves with the same way of thinking, for whoever has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin, so as to live for the rest of the time in the flesh no longer for human passions but for the will of God. For the time that is past suffices for doing what the Gentiles want to do, living in sensuality, passions, drunkenness, orgies, drinking parties, and lawless idolatry. With respect to this they are surprised when you do not join them in the same flood of debauchery, and they malign you; but they will give account to him who is ready to judge the living and the dead. For this is why the gospel was preached even to those who are dead, that though judged in the flesh the way people are, they might live in the spirit the way God does.
The end of all things is at hand; therefore be self-controlled and sober-minded for the sake of your prayers. Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins. Show hospitality to one another without grumbling. As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace: whoever speaks, as one who speaks oracles of God; whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength that God supplies—in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. To him belong glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.
Suffering as a Christian
Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed. If you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you. But let none of you suffer as a murderer or a thief or an evildoer or as a meddler. Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in that name. For it is time for judgment to begin at the household of God; and if it begins with us, what will be the outcome for those who do not obey the gospel of God? And
“If the righteous is scarcely saved,
what will become of the ungodly and the sinner?”
Therefore let those who suffer according to God’s will entrust their souls to a faithful Creator while doing good.
1 Peter 4 Commentary
by Hank Workman
Suffering is never easy. We avoid it at all costs. Pain is something we would rather scoot around than have to wrestle with.
Peter has 2 very interesting thoughts about this. The first is suffering requires we hold a mindset of what Christ went through and more to his point he states when we suffer our body is done with sin. More on that in a moment. The second is we should not be surprised by the suffering we experience in this life due to our acceptance of Christ and fires that burn because we’re Believers.
To the first point, Peter writes:
“Therefore, since Christ suffered in his body, arm yourselves also with the same attitude, because whoever suffers in the body is done with sin.”1 Peter 4:1
What I believe he’s driving at in this statement is we should expect to suffer in this life but how we respond to it and where our focus rests are critical. If we look and keep and our eyes on Jesus throughout whatever the suffering involves, we will be looking toward Him and what He wants us to do through it. So, when we are in pain or our lives are in uproar due to suffering, our real values show up. Suffering takes our thoughts away many times from the pull of sin and drives us to Him. One commentator writes “If anyone suffers for doing good and still faithfully obeys in spite of suffering, that person has made a clean break with sin.”
Peter’s point is suffering drives us to the things that matter – our focus and actions follow suit. It’s an interesting thought to ponder.
The second thing Peter states is we shouldn’t be surprised by suffering because we’re believers. This truly resounds with Jesus’ teaching in Matthew.
“Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me.”Matthew 5:11
The suffering the Christians of Peter’s day experienced was unhinged as so many people groups were coming against them. Peter’s challenge was to keep the perspective through such an onslaught of trials. However, he speaks of the Spirit of Glory and of God rests on you. (1 Peter 4:14) Meaning, throughout whatever they or we are going through, as Believer’s the Holy Spirit will strengthen us through such painful times.
Whatever suffering we may be going through now – from the physical to the emotional to the persecution we may feel, God uses these times to show Himself in ways we haven’t experienced before. His Spirit quickens us in wisdom and strength. He uses suffering to bring deeper maturity to our walk and relationship.
1 Peter 4 Commentary
by Brad Boyles
Arm yourself! This is a powerful opening in 1 Peter 4. Our thought process regarding suffering is not some crazy or impossible goal to strive for. It is the mindset that Christ had and the same mindset He’s given us by His Spirit. We voluntarily accept all things in suffering, including death, knowing that we are persecuted but not destroyed.
Peter then moves into how we deal with difficult relationships within the church. He writes that “love covers a multitude of sins.” This means that when we commit to loving others (even when they bother us), we can more easily bear with them in their faults. The IVP Commentary relays an accurate and hilarious example of what this looks like today.
“There in your local church is Ann, who doesn’t know much about hygiene and is frankly ‘smelly.’ Bill wears you out with incessant talking. Cathy is unspiritual. Don doesn’t get along with Evelyn. Fred treats his wife badly. Gene is a gauche teenager, never knowing how to act with courtesy and discretion. Hilary often grumbles.IVP New Testament Commentary
Irene has a different set of interests and values (she can’t come to the Tuesday-evening prayer meeting because it clashes with the local Amnesty International group). And so on it goes. There is Kevin, to be sure, who is really quite saintly but rather drab as a person. None of them is very easy to love at full stretch. (There is also, of course, myself, and I figure in other people’s lists of difficult people for similar reasons.)
And yet love is the answer to the problem. We find a whole host of offenses, real and imagined, in other people, and only love will overcome them and regard them as of no account because love covers over a multitude of sins.”
It is a fascinating thought. True love does not stir up sins. True love does not allow sin to disrupt your commitment level. This is because the love Peter is describing is not based on other people thinking and acting the way we think they should. Our love is rooted in Christ’s love – which was extended generously to us at the cross.
“Intense love; for love shall cover a multitude of sins. A loving disposition leads us to pass by the faults of others, to forgive offenses against ourselves, and to excuse and lessen, as far as is consistent with truth, the transgressions of men. It does not mean that our love to others will induce God to pardon our offenses.Adam Clarke