Tuesday, October 16, 2018
1 Peter 3:15 “Always be ready to give an answer to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you…”
Today’s word is RESPONSE.
Several years ago my wife and I led a Life Group at our church. On one particular night, we watched the next to last session of the Truth Project, a video series that teaches a Biblical world view. The session focused on our jobs and how labor and work are designed by God for His glory, for our fulfillment, and for the benefit of serving others with a generous spirit. During his presentation, Dr. Dell Tackett said something that really hit me hard. In essence, this was it – If work and labor are to reflect the nature of God, then shouldn’t Christians be the most valued of all employees in the workplace? Why are employers not specifically seeking Christians to fill their vacant positions? Why are they not rejoicing when they find out they hired one?
That got me thinking about what most Christians believe about work. To many it is a necessary evil, and because of that they display attitudes that are less than Christ-like while they are in the workplace. But to God, work is an opportunity for us to present the secular world with a vision of God’s grace and love. People who see work as a part of God’s plan to reveal Himself to the world will have very different attitudes and responses to the hardships that we all endure at work and in society.
What kind of attitudes do you display when things don’t go your way? We may tend to avoid answering because it cuts too deeply into our hearts and forces us to face issues we may have kept buried for too long. But we must answer so we can learn how to respond to difficulties with the grace of God. Whether you are an employer, employee, or customer, your life can reflect the grace, mercy, and compassion of Christ. Unfortunately, far too many Christians don’t look or act any differently than an unsaved person.
When we grumble and complain because things are tough, we are not looking at the finish line of faith, but at our immediate need for gratification and satisfaction. That’s PRIDE. When we speak poorly of other people and withdraw from them because we think they are doing something contrary to our preferences – that’s PRIDE. When we get gloomy and depressed about our finances, we cannot be standing on the promises of God but are standing on our own desires. That’s PRIDE. When we participate in the negativity of conversations about our government, its officials, and the impact their decisions have on our lives, we are placing our hope in this world and not in Jesus Christ. That’s not just pride, it’s IDOLATRY.
Pride is idolatry. Think about it. We are to worship God alone as the one who provides us with position, purpose, and provision. He alone is the one who qualifies us and gives us value. Anyone or anything else, including self, that we allow to validate our lives is an idol. Pride is idolatry.
I know things are tough in life. But that’s the exact context into which the Holy Spirit inspires Peter to write today’s verse. But to fully appreciate it, you must read what comes before it. Peter is talking about tough times and how we as God’s people are to respond differently than the way the world responds. Here’s what he says – But even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed. Do not fear what they fear; do not be frightened. But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord.
How much tougher can it get than having to suffer for being right? But when we do, we do not respond as the world does – with fear. Why? Because we have set Christ on the throne of our hearts. We recognize Him as LORD, and we have surrendered to Him in faith. Our suffering becomes the proving grounds of our faith, and our proper response to the suffering is hope.
Here’s how the Apostle Paul says it in Romans 5 – Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.
It is sad and embarrassing to see so many Christians – including me – respond to difficulties with hurtful words and shameful behavior. Pride shows up when the hope of glory should be evident.
We live in a most opportune day. It is a day in which the world is falling apart on many levels. It is a day in which we ourselves are suffering. It is a day in which our hope should shine because by grace we stand in the presence of Almighty God. When times get tough, we rejoice in the hope of glory because God will never disappoint us. If we respond with hope, then get ready – we will be asked to explain the hope that we have, and people will get to hear good news instead of grumbling.