1 Peter 3:14-17
But and if you suffer for righteousness' sake, happy are you: and be not afraid of their terror, neither be troubled;…
What is meant by "sanctifying the Lord"? The phrase occurs elsewhere (Isaiah 29:23; Leviticus 10:3; Numbers 20:12; Ezekiel 36:23). They sanctify Him who give Him His due, who treat His claims as real and absolute, who look away from all other powers, from all imagined resources or grounds of confidence, to Him as the origin and centre of their existence.
1. St. Peter was thinking immediately of apprehended suffering, and this at the hands of men, unconsciously acting as the instruments of a Master who saw fit thus to "prove" the patience and fidelity of His servants. But a great deal of actual suffering, apprehended or really imminent, comes apart from such instrumentality, or, at any rate, is only indirectly connected with human wills. For instance, suppose we learn that a severe outbreak of disease, infectious and perilous to life, is among us. Should we be likely then to be scared by the terror of such a prospect? or should we have faith enough to sanctify in our hearts, as Sovereign and Lord of all things, the Redeemer who healed sickness in others and accepted crucifixion for Himself? Could we suppress unworthy agitations, adopt all reasonable precautions, and make daily acts of faith in the spirit of Psalm 91:1, 6? But again, we know that very often our fears enormously exaggerate real evils, and very often we are haunted by fears which are altogether imaginary. Why not simply take the Lord at His own word, and put aside faithless "anxiety about the morrow"?
2. Remember, further, that the drama of spiritual life and death can be performed on a humbler stage, under conditions devoid of any impressive brilliancy. A youth, let us say, goes out from some quiet country home into an area which presents new tests to his moral and religious fidelity; the scene may be a college or a workshop, a messroom or house of business — it matters not; suppose he falls in with a bad set; suppose he is mercilessly laughed at if found to persevere in religious habits; suppose that he is accused of self-righteousness, or even of self-interest; suppose that, whether in rough or in polished phrase, the creed of his boyhood is called an obsolete delusion, fit only for those who are content to be tutored by the clergy; is there nothing here like a fiery trial? How will he stand it? Will he begin the downward course by "assuming a vice although he has it not," affecting an indifference to religion beyond what he really feels? Suppose that, on the contrary, he retains that holy fear of God, and perseveres in his duty, just "as he did aforetime" (Daniel 6:10): what will be said of him above? That, young as he is, he is playing the man; that he is responding to grace, and "witnessing a good confession"; that he is "sanctifying Christ in his heart as Lord."
3. And once more: when we are depressed and anxious as to the prospects of the Church and of the. faith; when unbelief is increasingly aggressive, confident of speedy success; when prejudices against that truth of which the Church is the pillar and ground work reappear in all their old force, unallayed by explanations or by conferences; when large masses of European society seem possessed with a spirit of revolutionary lawlessness, which fears God as little as it regards man; then the problem appears too hard, the task too onerous, the promised success past hoping for. But the history of the Church may remind us that as we certainly are "not better than our fathers," so we are not undergoing trials from which they were wholly exempt. But as they could and did fall back, so must we fall back on the invincible conviction that the cause is God's after all. Let the Most High look to it.
(W. Bright, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: But and if ye suffer for righteousness' sake, happy are ye: and be not afraid of their terror, neither be troubled;