Who is going to harm you if you are eager to do good? But even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed. ‘Do not fear their threats; do not be frightened.’ But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give answer to everyone who asks you to give a reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behaviour in Christ may be ashamed of their slander. (1 Peter 3: 13-16).
Wise counsel again from Peter! Be prepared.
Keep in mind the reason for his encouragement, that this section of society to which he was writing, most of whom were Jews and believers in Jesus, were the butt of Roman society’s animosity because they were misunderstood. These believers were part of a new cult, according to the pagans, which was not Jewish. They had tolerated the Jews but this group was spurned even by the Jews. Oh, they worshipped a Jew who was executed by the Romans and was said to have risen from the dead. However even this phenomenon of resurrection was not new in their religious teachings.
The pagan Romans and Greeks worshipped many gods, including Nimrod by his many pagan names and derivations. His evil wife, Semiramis had elevated to him to a god after he died. Semiramis also proclaimed herself to be a goddess – the Queen of Heaven. Her son, Tammuz, who was born after Nimrod’s death, whom she claimed was Nimrod’s son, conceived supernaturally after he died, was said to have risen from the dead after being killed by a wild beast in the forest.
Christians were accused of cannibalism because, during their love feasts they celebrated the death and resurrection of Jesus by ‘eating His flesh and drinking His blood.’ Although they were, in the main, model citizens, they kept to themselves for fear of persecution, and worshipped in secret. This kind of behaviour made them suspect, and spawned all kinds of false rumours about them.
Peter’s counsel was, ‘Don’t be afraid of them’ – a quote from Isaiah 8:12b. You have nothing to be ashamed of and nothing to fear from them. If you are living your life according to the standards of God’s kingdom, their malicious lies will have no substance. You will put them to shame by you respectful behaviour, your good deeds and by your courteous your response to their questions
Answer them when they question you. You have a very good reason for the hope in you that buoys you up and keeps you going in the face of hardships and unfair treatment. They don’t understand how you can do it? Tell them that is through God’s grace powerfully at work in you that you can put up with injustice without retaliating. You don’t only grin and bear it. You accept it joyfully because it gives you the privilege of suffering alongside your Master who suffered for you.
Jesus said that we must not fear the people who threaten to kill us. They can do no more than put our bodies to death. They cannot kill the indestructible soul within us which belongs to God. The one we are to fear, not be in dread of, but to reverence as Lord, is the one who has the power to destroy both body and soul in hell.
Peter encouraged these sufferers to focus on Jesus. This is the antidote to fear and to the temptation to resist or retaliate. If we keep on gazing at Jesus instead of allowing bitterness and resentment to fester inside, our spirits will remain calm as we draw strength from His suffering. We remember that ‘He entrusted Himself to Him who judges justly.’
If Jesus trusted the Father and died trusting Him, can we not also trust Him when we are mistreated for His sake? If we keeping thinking about Him, what He did and what He said, and how He suffered, trusting the Father for justice, it will take the focus off ourselves and save us from suffering from PMS (Poor Me Syndrome!) PMS is the root cause of depression in many people, not chemical imbalances. Imbalances are often the result, not the cause of depression.
There is nothing more medicinal and uplifting than a grateful heart. Gratitude for what Jesus did for you will lift you out of the pits of despair because what He did gives you access into the fullness of His life, His favour and His blessing.
Scripture taken from THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.