Who is going to harm you if you are eager to do good? But even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed. “Do not fear their threats; do not be frightened.” But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander. For it is better, if it is God’s will, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil.
1 Peter 3:13-17
In our earlier post, Peter told us what it looks like to love one another in the form of a lesson or instruction, and he continues the theme here asking who would want to harm you if you are doing good? He continues with transition, into an implied question of “What if they harm me anyway?” Peter’s answer to that unwritten question is that you will be blessed in spite of everything. The result of course, is that even if we suffer for doing the right thing, as sometimes happens in this life, we will be blessed.
In telling us not to fear their threats (or the things that others fear) Peter is quoting from Isaiah 8:12, and if you think about it, this is a very apt quote, for we who will live even though we die, and to whom blessings are assured, need not fear what the world can do to us for doing right. It may seem odd what Peter says next: always be ready to tell people, who ask, why you have this hope in Christ, and do it with gentleness and respect…
It may be that Peter is thinking that the way we react to problems will serve as a catalyst for such questions; after all, shouldn’t we be afraid? Everyone else would be− that makes “evangelism” look quite different from handing out leaflets and knocking on doors. Those who slander you may become ashamed and… who knows? They might come to see things quite differently than before.
In any event, if God wills it, it is better to suffer for good than to suffer for wrong… so always do what is right in the eyes of the Lord.
Now, when you view this in its fuller context of 3:8-17, the whole thing becomes clear: Love one another, live your life in the love of Christ so that the world may see His love through you. If the world should react badly, you have nothing to fear because of what you have in Christ… and it might even give you a better chance to share. In any event, living our lives as Christ would live is better than doing wrong.