“And who is he who will harm you if you become followers of what is good? But even if you should suffer for righteousness’ sake, you are blessed. ‘And do not be afraid of their threats, nor be troubled.’ But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear; having a good conscience, that when they defame you as evildoers, those who revile your good conduct in Christ may be ashamed. For it is better, if it is the will of God, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil.”
(1 Peter 3:13-17)
Sinners suffer much in this sin-cursed world and, if we’re honest, we must admit that many sufferings come as a result of our own poor life choices and sins. For the Christian, however, there may come times when we may even suffer for doing and choosing the right things. Peter says that it is a blessing for the believer to suffer for good, and for righteousness’ sake. Christians must be prepared for such suffering and be encouraged to endure it, because our natural reaction is to do anything and everything to avoid it. Sadly, many would rather refuse suffering even if it means giving up the faith.
Ironically, it is when we attempt to avoid suffering that we end up causing ourselves the most harm. When we seek to avoid the sufferings that come from our own wrongdoing, we inevitably commit more wrongs and harm our faith and souls. When we seek to avoid the sufferings (that is, persecution) that come from doing good, we end up denying the faith and advancing the cause of wickedness. Martin Luther once said, “To suffer wrong destroys no one’s soul, nay, it improves the soul, although it does inflict loss on the body and on property. But what does destroy the soul is wrongdoing, even though the wrongdoing were to gain the wealth of all the world.”
Peter encourages the Christian to embrace those sufferings that come from doing good. Not to find some sort of enjoyment in the pain the sufferings bring, but to know that the Lord God Who died and rose again for us, Whom we sanctify in our hearts, is so much greater than the worst of man’s terrors. Therefore, we say with the psalmist, “The Lord is on my side; I will not fear. What can man do to me?” (Psalm 118:6)
Semper paratus is a Latin expression that means “always ready.” It is both the motto and the official song of the U.S. Coast Guard. A portion of the lyrics from verse 3 reads, “We’ve been ‘Always Ready’ to do, to fight, to die” (emphasis added). The members of the Coast Guard are taught to push past their fears, even the fear of death, to be always ready to do the right thing by their high calling and office as protectors of America’s waterways.
In our text, the Christian is encouraged to “always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you.” (verse 15) Suffering for Jesus’ sake gives us opportunity to praise Jesus’ name. In Christ Jesus our Savior, and with His comforting Word of truth, we become well equipped to push past fear and to be always ready to do the Lord’s will, to fight the good fight of faith, and to die to sin and this world, knowing that Jesus has secured for us that life that never ends. And so, in Jesus, with Jesus, and for Jesus we suffer and are blessed.
Always be ready to give a defense