Suffering for Righteousness' Sake
How many times have I suffered because of my own bad decisions?
Plenty, that's how many times.
I agonize over an upcoming apology because I spoke rash words and hurt someone's feelings. I toss sleeplessly in bed because I watched a movie that troubled me. I squeeze out a few tears when my jeans don't fit because I haven't exercised. I go home from church empty because I came with a bad attitude.
Can you relate? Many times, the only person I have to blame for my problems is me.
Well, life is full of suffering. We all have to take part in Christ's suffering, as 1 Peter 4:13 says. So, I guess I shouldn't get so down on myself. Right? ...
Wait one second.
What does that verse in 1 Peter really say?
But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ's sufferings. If ye be reproached for the name of Christ, happy are ye; for the spirit of glory and of God resteth upon you. But let none of you suffer as a murderer, or as a thief, or as an evildoer, or as a busybody in other men's matters.
A chapter earlier, Peter sums it up nicely, "For it is better, if the will of God be so, that ye suffer for well doing, than for evil doing" (3:17).
I can't really say that I'm "partaking in Christ's suffering" when I face the consequences of my poor actions or sins. Christ never suffered for His own wrongdoing. He did suffer because of sin, but it was mine, not His! (1 Peter 3:18) Christ suffered so the plan of salvation could be established.
When I suffer because I spoke nasty words or mismanaged my money or lied, that doesn't please God. He's pleased when I ask for forgiveness and learn from the experience, but I'm sure He never wanted me to do those things in the first place, as a believer and follower of His gospel.
If I'm going to suffer in this life, let it be for His sake. If I'm going to be mocked, let it be because I stood up for the truth of God's word. If I'm going to be crazy busy, let it be because I'm helping many of my brothers and sisters. If money is tight, let it be because I'm giving more than 10 percent. If I shed tears, let them be for the lost souls of men and women.
So many times, I find myself wrapped up in the consequences of my own sin. As I grow and mature in Christ, my prayer is that my challenges stem from following God's commandments and not from stumbling over my selfishness.