No harm, but if ...
I've been working through 1 Peter very slowly in my Quiet Time lately. I am seeing some amazing things there that are deepening my understanding in new ways, and that's always exciting. 1 Peter has a lot to say about suffering, putting it in right perspective. But there's not enough space here to unfold all that I'm learning, so I'll just highlight one cluster of points.
1 Peter 3:13-14 (NASB95) says this:
13 Who is there to harm you if you prove zealous for what is good? 14 But even if you should suffer for the sake of righteousness, you are blessed.
Verse 13 sounds great! But then verse 14 seems like it immediately contradicts it. "Who can harm you? But if they do ..."
Verse 13 follows a few sections of encouraging the readers to submit to authority figures who may even be treating them poorly (that's a whole different topic!). This verse then encourages the reader that by living righteously, these ill-intentioned people can't really hurt us.
But then verse 14 admits that yes, of course, people can do us temporal, physical, emotional harm because we choose to live for Christ. And even in those cases, we should realize that we are blessed. Jesus says as much in the Sermon on the Mount when He said, "Blessed are those who have been persecuted for the sake of righteousness."
The verses don't contradict. (Of course they don't ... because ... Bible!) Verse 13 gives us an eternal perspective, and verse 14 gives us a temporal perspective. To live for Christ, even if it results in maltreatment, is above all a blessing ... because it's living for Christ. (Chapter 4 has way more to say about that!) Living for Christ and taking on some suffering for it is still far better than having an easy time of it not living for Christ.
And then there is verse 15:
But sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence.
This is a famous verse to remind people to be prepared to share their faith. But the context of this verse is suffering. Without diving too deeply into this verse, this ready defense for our hope is a stark, surprising message especially when we express it while being mistreated for our faith. The gentleness and reverence are even more amazing in that case.
Be encouraged. In the big picture, no one can truly harm us for living for Christ. Even if they do some temporal harm, we have eternal blessings. Plus we have a message of hope that endures even through suffering - that's why it's hope! Hope isn't hope if it only exists during easy times.
So ... be ready to tell others why you have hope even in the times of suffering for Christ's name.
(Image: By Benutzer:Stahlkocher - eigenes Bild,, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=23320835)