I Peter 2:19 “For it is commendable if a man bears up under the pain of unjust suffering because he is conscious of God.” What? What is this unjust suffering? (using my best professor voice) Good exegetical analysis starts with understanding the topic of what Peter was writing. This way we can accurately define what kind of suffering we are considering. This section of teaching is referring to submitting to man made authorities. Now since man imposed authorities have men in them, then God knows that some men will be unjust, mean, or wrong. This can effect you if you let it. For instance, say you got unfairly passed over for a promotion, or your professor unjustly gave you a bad grade. Well this whole passage is talking about that kind of unjust suffering. The verse just prior to this one says “Servants, submit yourselves to your masters with all respect, not only to those who are good and considerate, but also to those who are harsh.”
So lets say you work somewhere and the authority is just plain wrong and unfair. Well you should get angry right? Or give that boss a piece of your mind? No. What this scripture is telling us is that we should work hard and respectfully no matter who is in authority. I put it like this. I will never let someone else determine how hard I work. So if another employee is getting away with being lazy, I’m not going to be lazy, it’s just not who I want to be. Or if authority is so unfair that it makes me want to quit, well, I’m not going to quit, because no one gets to determine how I feel. I work hard and honor leadership because God told me to, and nothing will distract me from that. Now none of us are perfect at that. On some level we are defeated here. Still, let us give our best effort. The scripture here told you to “bear up” under this suffering, which indicates that you should continue to produce in an upward manner with your head held high. Remember that when you are treated unfairly but you just keep on working hard with an honoring heart, well, then, God himself will reward you. And God rewards a lot better than people do.
The Living Word Bible Church
Galatians 2:21 starts out with “I do not set aside the grace of God.” So there is stuff that we do set aside right? We set aside our string beans when we are eating, or we set aside some money that we aren’t spending. But grace isn’t to be set aside. When you set something aside you are benching it, taking it out of the game. Giving it a rest. You inactivate it, or make it stand still. It’s like having a phone that is turned off. It is designed to help connect you with people, but off, it will do nothing. Anything set aside is serving no current and active purpose. Those beans are doing nothing for no one set aside on your plate. (I give my string beans to the dog.)
So Paul is not keeping grace in the fridge, or in his pocket, but he is always keeping grace in motion, in all that he does he runs it through grace. So what does it mean to go through your day with grace operating? It means you aren’t in judgement of others, or criticizing others. It means you think good of others and yourself, and aren’t expecting anyone to uphold some sort of Christian standard that you yourself have set. It means that in all you do you can operate in the authority of Jesus Christ and expect mountains to move, storms to calm and sickness to leave. That authority is afforded to you because you are the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus. Grace. It means no weapon formed against you and your family can prosper, and that you accept no calamity as well deserved since Christ has died and paid the penalty in full for all sin for all time. It means that when you fail you are actively forgiving yourself, or if others let you down, you actively forgive them. You keep that grace in motion, you meditate upon it, and you allow that grace to teach you godly living. It is God’s grace who forgives you. It is a gift that frees us to be happy.
The Living Word Bible Church
Here’s a big lesson in a short breath. Galations 4 describes two types of people as portrayed by two sons of Abraham. One was Ishmael, born from Hagar whose name represents Sinai, the mountain where God gave Moses the law. Sinai represents sin. This is because the law came to amplify sin, to prove to man that he couldn’t not earn righteousness through his own efforts. So Ishmael represents those who are trying to do enough good to be blameless before God. The second son of Abraham was Isaac, born from Sarah as the result of God’s promise. This son was given the inheritance, not because he was a better son, but because he was born of promise. He represents those who receive the righteousness of God by faith in Jesus Christ.
Now the church in Galatia had been living under the law again, that is, trying to be good enough to have a relationship with God and receive blessing of God. But Jesus paid the price in full. So are we more like the son of the slave or of the promise? Am I truly free by the grace of God, or in my mind am I still trying to be good enough before I approach God? This is a question we all must ask ourselves, and often. When we live under legalism or by the law, then we make Christ of no effect (Galations 5:4). How do I know which one I’m most acting like? The answer is right here in Galatians 4:29 “At that time the son born in the ordinary way persecuted the son born by the power of the Spirit. It is the same now.” I love that it says “It is the same now.” This is an ongoing persecution that will continue as long as this earth endures. One of the symptoms that I’m acting under the law, that is, in the footsteps of Ishmael and not under grace is this: I persecute other believers. When I throw stones at other Christians I’m acting under the law, a persecuter. If you read in Genesis 16 you will find that this type of believer “will live in hostility toward all his brothers.” Notice that they are “brothers”, indicating they are fellow believers in Christ.
The Galatians were believers but were beginning to add back in justification through works. The path of self-righteousness always includes looking at others in contempt, wondering why they aren’t as good at not sinning. This brings about the stone throwing. We should not throw stones at other believers, it only causes division and imprisons those who are divided from the body. Ishmael in Genesis 21:9 is mocking Isaac. Still this happens today. Believers mocking believers. So which side of persecution I stand on will determine God’s commendation for my life. I am commended and blessed when I am persecuted. That is God’s protection for the persecuted, so that those who are persecuted need not defend themselves or return insult for insult. Receive your blessing with a smile. But I am making Christ of no effect when I’m the persecuter. Now I don’t do it on purpose, and like the entire church of Galatia, it’s easy to fall into. As believers and family let’s walk in grace for each other, no stone throwing at other believers, but instead when you come across anothers weakness or failure whether perceived or real, let your reaction be to pray for, encourage, and build one another up. Be children of the promise, and never forget where you would be if it were not for the work of Christ.
www.livingwordonline.com The Living Word Bible Church
Okay, God has a plan for your life, and you may be asking, well, “what is that plan?” Well, there is a great key in Romans 12:2 – it says “Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is–his good, pleasing and perfect will.” So you may have heard this scripture before. But there also may be more in here we haven’t seen.
If we aren’t sure of God’s will for our lives, it may be because we have some more renewing of the mind to do. We are in need of a bit more transformation. We are still conforming to some patterns of this world. “God, what would you have me do?” Well, if it isn’t clear, then what He has you doing is more renewing. Any new project will probably require some new skill, knowledge, and effort. Therefore for there to be a new level in my life, a new transformation must begin in me. Sounds easy right? Well, transforming can be tough since this world is very loud. The world is quite good at unnewing our mind. (I made that word up). Unnewing is decaying your mind, and as a result, it decays your world. The world is yelling for us to conform, from the TV we watch to the people we talk to, and the things we read. We are surrounded by it, inundated constantly by the worlds message. The world has a system for marriage, relationships, money, dating, eating, living, but have you noticed that the worlds system is broken. It isn’t working. But God’s system still works and it leads to life.
Transformation comes through meditation. If I can focus my thoughts on one subject for a great deal of time it will bring transformation. We sometimes think that transformation comes from making a choice. Really, the choice is only the beginning. If I choose to start working out, well, I probably will only stay disciplined to that work out for a few weeks. But if I were to meditate daily on working out, study, plan, envision, and devise, for a long period of time, then I would become the type of person who works out as a normal routine. Now I’m not trying to get you to work out. I’m saying that if you can have focused thought about a scripture, and truly meditate on it daily (and nightly), it will begin to transform you. Your mind will be made new concerning that scriptures unique wisdom. Don’t be so surrounded with the world’s message, but instead, surround your brain with the bible. To renew our mind and fight the decay that attacks us we are best armed with the word of God. When I get the word of God in my mind and spend time thinking about it, my mind is renewed. It remembers to love, to have hope, and to do what is right. And a bunch of renewing has me transforming, and a bunch of transforming has me clearly knowing God’s will.
www.livingwordonline.com The Living Word Bible Church Mesa, AZ