Wednesday, November 18, 2009
Current Study: 1 Peter
Today’s Topic: Suffering Brings Perfection
Scripture Reading: 1Peter 5:9 (NIV) Resist him [the devil], standing firm in the faith, because you know that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings.
I want to encourage you today with one word from 1 Peter 5:9. It requires looking at the verse in a different translation. The New American Standard Version reads – But resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same experiences of suffering are being accomplished by your brethren who are in the world. I want to focus on the word accomplished.
Did you know that suffering is accomplishing something positive in your life? Hard to believe while we’re in the thick of it, but it’s true. The Greek word in the original text here is epiteleo, and it means to bring to an end, to complete, to perfect. It is the same word the Apostle Paul chose to describe the completion of the work God is doing in our lives when he wrote to the people of Philippi. He said, “being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” (emphasis mine)
Here’s my simple yet profound connecting point for today: All suffering of all Christians is the same kind – the kind that moves us towards experiencing the completion of the character of Christ. The types of suffering people experience may be different, but the reason for all suffering is the same. God is completing a grand work in us to perfect the life of His Son Jesus.
It doesn’t matter whether the suffering was self-induced by our own choices, or people-induced because of the choices of others. It is all God-designed and God-controlled for one primary reason – to train our character by testing our faith. Peter says that the knowledge of this process being active in all of us is the motivation for us to unite in our stand against the devil who seeks to stop the process.
Satan doesn’t want Christians to act or think like Jesus. He doesn’t want us to be a threat to his singular purpose to destroy as much of God’s creation as he can – especially the part of it created in His own image. He seeks to eliminate the proof of the resurrection of Jesus and the power of the Holy Spirit by discouraging, defeating and devouring the faith of every believer. He wants us to look just like the unsaved people of the world so that none of them have any hope of change.
But the work of God to perfect the life of Jesus in His children will not and cannot be stopped. It can be hindered by our responses to how God is working, but in the end it cannot be stopped. So resist the devil, and stand firm in your faith. God is working through each and every situation of your life to produce the character of Christ in you. Nothing about your current situation surprises Him or overwhelms Him. It has been designed by Him to bring the fullness of fellowship with Jesus to your life. It is the same for all of us. Let us together stand firm in our faith.