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Studies from 1st Peter - 12

Honorable behavior in our workplace 1Peter 2:18--25

Servants be submissive to your masters with all fear, not only to the good and gentle, but also the harsh. For this is commendable, if because of conscience toward God one endures grief, suffering wrongfully. For what credit is it if, when you are beaten for your faults, you take it patiently? But when you do good and suffer, if you take it patiently, this is commendable before God. For to this you were called, because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow His steps”  1 Peter 2:18--25

Introduction: - Christian’s behaviour in the work place must be characterized by submissiveness. V.18 They are not supposed to fight with the employer or neglect their duty.

 Notice the background. There is much difference between today’s environment in the workplace and the 1st century. They were slaves bought by the master. Slaves had no rights, as they are owned by the master. Many of these slaves as well as masters got saved by the power of the gospel. Now they are brethren in Christ. What should be their attitude towards the master who is a brother in Christ?

 Peter as well as Paul takes up this matter in their writings. Cf. Eph. 6:5—8; Colo. 3:22—25; 1 Tim. 6:1, 2; Titus 2:9, 10. Philemon v. 6.

Both say that salvation does not change their responsibility to the master. Paul was even careful to send back Onesimus the run-away slave who got saved miraculously while serving jail term in the same prison where Paul had been imprisoned. Philemon. V. 12. At the same time Paul does exhort the masters to be conscious of their heavenly Master who has no partiality with Him. Eph. 6:9

Also observe that not only to Christian masters but even to bad and harsh also believing servants must be submissive.

Three reasons:-

1. Pleasing to God. V. 19
 “Commendable” – God is pleased when His children willingly submit to their masters. But there is clause to it. God is pleased only “if because of conscience toward God one endures grief, suffering wrongfully”. -“mindful of God” (ESV). What does it mean?

a. Awareness of God’s presence. Christian employee is submissive to the master and enduring the consequences being conscious of the fact that God is with him always and watching every minute things.
b. Awareness of God’s sovereignty. He is also aware that God controls every thing, including his life under this hard master. He has allowed such difficult situation or individual in his life.
c. Awareness of God’s glory. While we suffer patiently as a Christian, God is glorified. Peter adds that if we are at fault for our suffering there is no glory attached to it. v. 20. But with out any reason we endure hardship under our masters it will lead to God’s glory.
            i. Others see God’s Goodness in us
            ii. God pleased in our dependence on Him
So it must be emphasized that merely submitting to an employer out of compulsion, like economic reason has no spiritual value, it must be out of our faith in God.

2. Purpose of our call. V. 21a

“To this you were called” – Suffering is part of our call!   Cf. John 15: 18, 19;  Act 14:22; 2 Tim. 3:12; 1 The 3:3 As soon as were called by the Holy Spirit to the fellowship of Christ we became an enemy of the world. 1 Cori. 1:9; Eph. 4:1, 4.
It is God’s plan as part of our calling that we must suffer patiently to:

        1. Display God’s goodness.
        2. Learn & be equipped.

3. Pattern of Christ. V. 21b
         ‘Example’ – ‘writing under’ –children draw picture by keeping a picture under the paper. Christ is our example. We ought to follow His footsteps in every aspect. Cf. Matt. 10:38; Luke 14:27.
         John 13:15  Wash one another
         Eph. 5:29     Care for the church.
        Phil. 2:5     Have the mind of Christ
        Colos 3:13   Forgive as Christ
        1 John 2:6   Walk as Christ walked
         1Peter 2:21 Suffer as Christ suffered
Can we live like Christ since He is God, we are mere human beings? True, we do have limitations as human being, but He is our standard not any mortal man. He is our pattern.

a. He suffered unjustly. V. 22

Did no sin
Knew no sin. 2 Cor. 5:21
In Him no sin. 1 John. 3:5
Attested by many:-
                        Pilate: - ‘I find no fault’ John 18: 38
                        Mrs. Pilate: - ‘That just man’ Matt. 27:18
                        Centurion: - ‘Certainly—just man’ Luke 23:47
Yet He suffered willingly.

b. He suffered in the most humiliating manner. V. 23a.
            ‘Reviled’ -‘to pile up abusive and vile language against someone’. What the Lord Jesus Christ suffered was the most shameful, ignominious suffering. Gospel writers narrate it in detail. Cf. Matt. 27:12ff; Luke. 23:5ff.

c. He suffered quietly. V. 23
            No argument He made. But ‘committed’ Himself to God.  Jews handed over Christ to Pilate and Herod, but Christ handed over Himself to the Father. He knew Father is just and sovereign.
            Such should be our attitude. Never retaliate. Keep quite as Christ suffered.
So, a Christian employee should be willing to suffer at the hands of his masters because of these three reasons:-
           1. Pleasing to God
           2. Purpose of Call
           3. Pattern of Christ

Sufferings of Christ v. 24, 25

Peter adds something more on the sufferings of Christ. We should always remember that there is a vast difference between our sufferings and the sufferings that Jesus Christ went through. In that aspect we can never understand His suffering fully and we can never imitate it either. Two things Peter mentions here:-

a. Substitutionary atonement v. 24

“He bore our sins” – why should a sinless person suffer? Not just to set an example. He was taking our place, our sins, and our punishment. He bore our penalty. He satisfied the demands of God’s righteousness. Cf. Ezk. 18:20; Psa. 49:7; 2 Cor. 5:21; Gal 3:13; Heb 9:28. God the Father imputed our sins upon Him. Isa. 53:4, 6.

b. Efficacious suffering v. 24b, 25
          His suffering did not go waste. It has much effect. Cf. Isa 53:11,12
                  i. We died to sins v. 24b  cf. 2 Cor. 5:14; Rom 6: 1--11
                  ii. We live for righteousness. V. 24b
                  iii We could return to our shepherd. V. 25

So,       Christ our example / standard –follow His footsteps.
            Christ our substitute – Took our place- be grateful to Him.
            Christ our shepherd / overseer – Stay close to Him and listen to Him.

Christian’s conduct should be honourable everywhere including his workplace. How is that? Be submissive to superiors.
            It is pleasing to God.
            It is the purpose for which God has called us.
            It is the pattern Christ has set before us.

Prepared by Nelson Thomas as part of his teaching ministry. You are free to use it for your personal study.
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