“For this finds favor, if, for the sake of conscience toward God a person bears up under sorrows when suffering unjustly. For what credit is there if, when you sin and are harshly treated, you endure it with patience? But if when you do what is right and suffer for it you patiently endure it, this finds favor with God. For you have been called for this purpose, since Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example for you to follow in His steps, who committed no sin, nor was any deceit found in his mouth; and while being reviled, He did not revile in return; while suffering, He uttered no threats, but kept entrusting Himself to Him who judges righteously; and He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; for by His wounds you were healed. For you were continually straying like sheep, but now you have returned to the Shepherd and Guardian of your souls.”
– 1 Peter 2.19-25
Well. It happened. I got a speeding ticket. First time in ten years. The irony here is that I used to drive fast. I mean, I would find someone speeding and tuck in behind them, constantly scanning the medians for cops, and I learned the art of cancelling the cruise control without hitting the breaks to coast back down to the limit when I saw a cop. But in the last few years, I lived in a foreign country and the Lord deeply set it in my heart that part of honoring God in all of my life is to honor the laws of the land. And that includes speed limits. I have become very purposeful to not speed! On Monday, however, I was out on my bike, roaming through the foothills of the Rockies and actually trying to find my way home as I had never been out that way. I came upon a small town, in the middle of nowhere, and the speed limit dropped to 25. The cop said I was going 40.
Now, I am very much a “what you see is what you get” kind of person. I don’t play games, I don’t give lip service. When I got pulled over ten years ago, I got aggravated and certainly did not have the foresight to think if I was agreeable or apologetic maybe I would be shown grace. I can’t cry my way out of a ticket like people say women so aptly do. But on Monday, when I saw the blinking lights in my mirror the first thought that ran through my mind was, “for what credit is there if, when you sin and are harshly treated, you endure it with patience?” So I got off my bike, smiled at the cop and handed over my paperwork. He sat in his car and got out with the ticket. Then the thought truthfully ran through my mind, “Come on man, I was nice. I acknowledged that I was speeding, I said I was sorry. What else do you want from me?” Well, he wants $135. I didn’t have a truly holy mindset. I thought, “if I react well maybe he’ll let me go”. Nope. He punished me. And scripture says that it is only expected that if you get punished for sinning, you should endure it patiently – you are getting what you deserve.
I think there is a bit of romanticism towards suffering for the sake of Christ in reformed Christian circles today. And this passage in 1 Peter shows us how Christ suffered and exhorts us to, when we are reviled or persecuted, not lash out – to not get aggravated – but to humbly take it and love our enemy. That sounds so easy and romantic at times. But it’s not. But Peter says that THAT is what finds favor with God – to do what is right, to suffer for it, and to endure it patiently. Have you ever suffered for doing what is right? Did you endure it patiently? I clearly need to work on suffering for the sin that I do patiently.
Praise God sanctification is not a work that I do in myself, and praise God that He is so patient with me. He who began this work in me will complete it (Phil 1.6). But let us seek to find favor with God by doing what is right. By obedience. Let us “work out our salvation with fear and trembling” (Phil 2.12). Let us “be all the more diligent to make certain about His calling and choosing [us]” (2 Peter 1.10). Let us “test [ourselves] to see if [we] are in the faith; examine yourselves! Or do you not recognize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you—unless indeed you fail the test?” (2 Cor 13.5).