Wednesday, 20 November 2019
And who is he who will harm you if you become followers of what is good? 1 Peter 3:13
This verse now follows after the citation of Psalm 34. The psalm was given to support Peter’s words concerning right conduct and that which will bring about a blessing. Now, he asks, “And who is he who will harm you.” The question must be asked in an elevated sense to understand his meaning, “And just who is he who will harm you?” Or, “And who, I ask, is he who will harm you?” The reason this must be the case is because the words of the very next verse to come – “But even if you should suffer.”
The question by Peter here, then, does not imply that those who do right will not suffer. In fact, Christ – who did no wrong ever – suffered greatly. And further, He told his followers that they should expect the same. What Peter is saying is that those who can bring harm have no true authority over those who “become followers of what is good.”
If one follows in Christ’s steps, he very well may suffer harm, but it is only a temporary, earthly harm. It cannot separate him from Christ, and it will not diminish the glory which lies ahead as promised by Christ. The idea is reflective of what the author to Hebrews says, and which is cited from both Psalm 56:11 and Psalm 118:6 –
“So we may boldly say:
‘The Lord is my helper;
I will not fear.
What can man do to me?’” Hebrews 13:6
Peter’s words here signify that we are to trust Christ, emulate Him, and not worry about the consequences in this world as we go forth in righteousness. As noted, this will be more fully seen in the coming verse.
Life application: The very next psalm in the Bible, after the one Peter just quoted, says –
“Fierce witnesses rise up;
They ask me things that I do not know.
12 They reward me evil for good,
To the sorrow of my soul.” Psalm 35:11, 12
King David wrote both psalms, and yet there is no contradiction when it is understood that we don’t always receive the same treatment we hand out. It should be expected that trials and troubles will come, even when we act exactly as the Lord would have us act. In fact, in some contexts, the more we act like Christ the more persecution we can expect.
Despite this, it behooves us to act properly, regardless of how others eventually treat us. Generally, this will lead to peace and contentment with those around us. One thing is certain, if we are belligerent and unruly, we can only expect strife and conflict. Following the general guidelines Peter has laid down will normally result in a happier time.
Lord, how much better is life when things go smoothly. But should we be persecuted or treated unfairly for our faith, give us the courage to look beyond the moment and to the great reward You have in store for us. May our lives be as lights and as examples to those around us, even those who are at enmity with You. Amen.