1 Peter 2:20-23 (NLT)
There is no credit, honor or praise given to those who patiently endure the consequences of their actions. At least, according to scripture, that is not what we should expect. But as I ponder the first part of verse 20 - "Of course you get no credit for being patient if you are beaten for doing wrong" - I realize our society does not apply that simple truth. Quite the opposite, how often do we reward or praise little Johnny for sitting in the time out chair without a temper tantrum? Or how about when we have warned Susie she will lose her phone for the weekend if she talks back again - when she surrenders it willingly after the next infraction, do we give it back after a few hours because she didn't throw it and yell "I hate you!” And then what about criminals - don't we give them time off for good behavior during their imprisonment? I know I have been guilty of giving credit to my children for their "good attitude" when consequences have been endured patiently by relenting from imposing the entire "sentence".
Does that mean I should not extend mercy in some cases? On the contrary, in the parable of the Unforgiving Servant (Matt. 18:21-35) we learn we are to have compassion and mercy toward those who have wronged us, just as God has shown us mercy. We have just failed to communicate that mercy is extended because of grace - it is undeserved favor granted at the mercy of the one in authority. It is not a "right"; it is not deserved and therefore should not be expected! When I do wrong, I deserve to suffer the consequences. I should accept responsibility for my actions, and even be thankful for the discipline. I cannot say that as a child I was very thankful for the spankings and punishments I received, nor do I remember suffering patiently or silently! I am, however, thankful for them now. They not only showed me my parents loved me enough to correct my wrong behavior, they were opportunities for my character to grow. But how about unjust punishment or unfair treatment?
God is pleased when I patiently endure unfair treatment. This is when I truly reflect Christ to others. God calls me to do good even when I am treated unfairly or suffer injustice. Jesus did not retaliate when He was mistreated - instead He prayed for those who mistreated Him. He committed Himself to His Father knowing His will is perfect and He always judges fairly. Most of all He remained focused on His purpose - to seek and to save those who were lost. Jesus gives me the perfect example to imitate when I encounter unfair treatment and/or persecution:
It is easy to be kind and love those who love me, but my flesh raises its ugly head against those who treat me harshly. I desire to follow the example of Jesus, so I must choose love in all circumstances - " Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails.” (1 Cor. 13:4-8) This kind of love is not a feeling or emotion; it’s an act of my will. I choose to love even if I don’t feel like it, I choose to love even if it’s undeserved, I choose to love when everything in me wants to hate. I can never be wrong by choosing to love, because that’s what Jesus would do!
Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing . . . James 1:2-8
Founder and President of Go Ministries, Inc.
Co-Founder and Secretary/Treasurer of Go Ministries, Inc