Prepare yourself to discern what is and what is not of God today. Still yourself so you can hear how God is calling you.
1 Peter 2:19-25 (NRSV)
For it is a credit to you if, being aware of God, you endure pain while suffering unjustly. If you endure when you are beaten for doing wrong, what credit is that? But if you endure when you do right and suffer for it, you have God’s approval. For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you should follow in his steps.
“He committed no sin,
and no deceit was found in his mouth.”
When he was abused, he did not return abuse; when he suffered, he did not threaten; but he entrusted himself to the one who judges justly. He himself bore our sins in his body on the cross, so that, free from sins, we might live for righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed. For you were going astray like sheep, but now you have returned to the shepherd and guardian of your souls.
Every year when I pick up my kids from church camp, I can count on hearing a few stories about some pranks. Sometimes the pranks end harmlessly enough, but other times, the pranks spiral out of control, ending with serious damage to property or feelings.
Those who have been the victim of some kind of hurt by another person know that the natural urge is to get even. This response to wrongdoing is imbedded deep within us. Of course, as we get even, they get even again and the cycle continues.
Our text reminds us today that God’s way is a little different. We are reminded of the teachings of Jesus that reframed the Old Testament’s “eye for an eye” concept of justice and instead focused on breaking the cycle of retribution with love, forgiveness, and humility. (It is important to note that this writer of this devotion does not advocate for victims of abuse to remain in abusive situations. Victims of such abuse are strongly encouraged to leave the situation, report the abuse, and then work on healing, forgiveness, love, etc. from a safe space.)
While responding with love rather than retribution to wrongdoing comes without immediate gratification, our text reminds us that, on the occasions we suffer, we are provided with a great opportunity to follow the example of Jesus Christ. How reassuring it is to know that enduring in this way is noticed by and is pleasing to God.
Gracious God, thank you for the knowledge that, when we suffer, we do not suffer alone. We ask that you would strengthen us to endure in such a way that the fruits of your Spirit are evident in us and a witness to all. We pray this in the name of Jesus. Amen.
Go with God.