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;…
I. SUFFERING IS SUPPOSED, NOTWITHSTANDING RIGHTEOUSNESS, yea, for righteousness; and that, not as a rare accident, but as the frequent lot of Christians. Think not that any prudence will lead you by all oppositions and malice of an ungodly world. Many winter blasts will meet you in the most inoffensive way of religion, if you keep straight to it. Look about you, and see if there be any state of man or course of life exempted from troubles. The greatest are usually subject to the greatest vexations, as the largest bodies have the largest shadows attending them. Take what way you will, there is no place or condition so fenced but public calamities or personal griefs find a way to reach us. Seeing then we must suffer whatever Course we take, to suffer for righteousness is far the best. What Julius Caesar said ill of doing ill, we may well say of suffering ill, "If it must be, it is best to be for a kingdom." But I shall prosecute this suffering for righteousness only with relation to the apostle's present reasoning. His conclusion he establishes.
1. From the favour or protection of God. The eyes of the Lord being over the righteous for their good, and His ear open to their prayer.
2. For the other argument, that the following of good would preserve them from harm, it speaks truly the nature of the thing, what it is apt to do, and what, in some measure, it often doth; but considering the nature of the world, its enmity against God and religion, it is not strange that it often proves otherwise. But if thou knowest who it is whom thou hast trusted, and whom thou lovest, this is a small matter. What though it were deeper and sharper sufferings, yet still, if ye suffer for righteousness, happy are ye.
II. THAT A CHRISTIAN UNDER THE HEAVIEST LOAD OF SUFFERINGS FOR RIGHTEOUSNESS IS YET HAPPY, AND THAT HE IS HAPPIER EVEN BY THOSE SUFFERINGS.
1. All the sufferings of this world are not able to destroy the happiness of a Christian, nor to diminish it; yea, they cannot at all touch it; it is out of their reach. If all friends be shut out, yet the visits of the Comforter may be frequent, bringing glad tidings from heaven, and communing with him of the love of Christ and solacing him with that. Banishment he fears not, for his country is above; nor death, for that sends him home into that country.
2. But if in other sufferings, even the worst, the believer is still a happy man, then more especially in those that are of the best kind, sufferings for righteousness. Not only do they not detract from his happiness, but they give accession to it; he is happy even by suffering.
(1) It is the happiness of a Christian, until he attain perfection, to be advancing towards it; to be daily refining from sin, and growing richer and stronger in the graces that make up a Christian, a new creature; to attain a higher degree of patience, and meekness, and humility; to have the heart more weaned from the earth and fixed on heaven. Now as other afflictions of the saints do help them in these things, their sufferings for righteousness, the unrighteous and injurious dealings of the world with them, have a particular fitness for this purpose.
(2) Persecuted Christians are happy in their conformity with Christ, which is love's ambition. A believer would take it as an affront that the world should be kind to him, that was so cruel to his beloved Lord and Master.
(3) Suffering Christians are happy in the rich supplies of spiritual comfort and joy, which in times of suffering are usual; so that as "their sufferings for Christ do abound, their consolations in Him abound much more."(4) If those sufferings be so small that they are weighed down even by present comforts, and so the Christian is happy in them, how much more doth the weight of glory that follows surpass these sufferings! Now these sufferings are happy, because they are the way to this happiness and the pledges of it.
Parallel VersesKJV: But and if ye suffer for righteousness' sake, happy are ye: and be not afraid of their terror, neither be troubled;