This week I have been working my way through some of 1st Peter when I get time to open up the Bible. I have enjoyed many of the fresh insights God has been sharing with me, but I keep thinking back to one in particular.
“13 Now who is there to harm you if you are zealous for what is good? 14 But even if you should suffer for righteousness’ sake, you will be blessed. Have no fear of them, nor be troubled, 15 but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect, 16 having a good conscience, so that, when you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame.” 1 Peter 3:13-16 ESV
As I read, verse 13 just jumped out at me. At this time in my life, there is one battle that has really been taking its toll on my heart for a few months now. I’m doing all I can to do what is right, but I’ve come to a point where I need the others involved in this part of my life to begin to do what is right as well. I do not intend to share the details, but I don’t think I will need to as I share what God is teaching me.
The great thing about being a Christian is that there will be times when God opens your eyes to what is right, and regardless of what is actually happening around you, He makes it so that you cannot stop craving what is right. Verse 13 gives me the strength I need to continue desiring what I know is right, and even gives me encouragement to allow God to use me as He works to set this situation right. However, the next three verses expand on how a Christian should appropriately express this zeal.
In verse 14, we are told not to fear or be troubled as we struggle, and to accept the blessing produced by the suffering. Verse 15 reminds us that as we go through times when we feel goodness is being ignored, we are to keep Christ in mind as we act, and be ready to defend what we believe is right in an appropriate manner. Verse 16 then teaches us that as we succeed in proclaiming what is right, in a right way, we will only be adding further shame to all that is causing the wrong.
I know plenty of Christians, myself included, that have a zeal for various righteous callings God has given them, but we put that righteousness in jeopardy by how we act. This would be like a pro-life man advocating for life at conception, but at the same time showing disregard for life by bombing an abortion clinic. We may not all be so extreme in the ways we disqualify our zeal for God’s truth, but we can be just as damaging.
Peter reminded us that our zeal for righteousness is a good thing. He also taught us, however, that expressing our zeal needs to be done as Jesus would have, with gentleness, respect, and highlighting all the hope we know God’s righteousness can bring. Let’s stay passionate for what is right, but join me in seeking God’s help to share His hope with the Holy manner we ought.
Written by Timothy Hegerich
There is truth in our world, and it lies within the word of the One who created the world. It is my prayer that my thoughts and writings echo this truth and inspire you to seek it for your life today!