Receiving Blessing for Evil
The beginning of I Peter 4 keeps our attention focused on Jesus. “Christ suffered for us in the flesh,” we read in I Peter 4:1. Peter continues to encourage Christians to remain faithful despite the fact we may be in the spiritual minority, (I Peter 3:20-21). We need to be careful not to grow numb to the suffering our Lord and Savior endured for us. Beyond simply avoiding indifference, we need to be motivated by Christ’s sacrifice to devote our lives to His will, (I Peter 4:2).
A life devoted to God is going to look different than the life of an unbeliever, (I Peter 4:3). People will “think it strange” when you make different choices than they do. It is tempting to think we need to fit in with those of the world in order to build a relationship with them and eventually teach the gospel to them. This is not the biblical pattern. God’s word always encourages Christians “be holy in all your conduct,” (I Peter 1:15).
Unfortunately, for many who think your behavior to be strange, their opinion of you and your faith will lead them to speak “evil of you,” (I Peter 4:4) and to insult you “for the name of Christ,” (I Peter 4:14). For many people today, it is inconceivable that you would disagree with their choices. Many are not satisfied unless you actively endorse and encourage their depraved lifestyles. No matter how you are treated for your faith, just remember that every individual “will give an account to Him who is ready to judge the living and the dead,” (I Peter 4:5).
While many will find you to be strange for your righteous living as a Christian, you should “not think it strange” when you have to suffer the “fiery trial” you are forced to endure by the treatment of others, (I Peter 4:12). The Lord tells you to expect to suffer. However, when you suffer, you can actually “rejoice to the extent that you partake of Christ’s sufferings, that when His glory is revealed, you may also be glad with exceeding joy. 14 If you are reproached for the name of Christ, blessed are you, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you,” (I Peter 4:13-14). Just as Christians are instructed to return blessing for evil in I Peter 3:8-9, chapter 4 tells us we, too, will receive blessing for the evil we must endure.
In the face of these trials and sufferings for your faith, you must always remember to act with love. I Peter 4:8 says, “Above all things have fervent love for one another, for ‘love will cover a multitude of sins.’” Those who have received God’s grace are required to share God’s grace, (I Peter 4:10). To be a good steward of His grace, you need to do everything in a manner that brings God glory, including every word you speak and every action you take, (I Peter 4:11). Even as you strive to glorify God in all you do, (or perhaps, because you strive to glorify God in all you do), you should still “not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you,” (I Peter 4:12).
Keep in mind exactly what I Peter 4 is warning you about. You are not being warned about the use of mechanical instruments, or attendance, or other issues we commonly talk about as doctrinal issues. Rather, I Peter is cautioning about lifestyle choices - demonstrating self-control over lusts of the flesh, (I Peter 4:3), and our need to show love towards our neighbors and speak the truth with them, (I Peter 4:8-11). Christ suffered for you so that you would endure suffering for Him. You will be held accountable for these things. I Peter 4:17 says “For the time has come for judgment to begin at the house of God; and if it begins with us first, what will be the end of those who do not obey the gospel of God?” In all this, we must never forget that through God, we will receive His blessings in return for the evil we receive from others.