Suffering for Righteousness’ Sake

1Pe 3:14 But and if ye suffer for righteousness’ sake, happy [are ye]: and be not afraid of their terror, neither be troubled;
1Pe 3:15 But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and [be] ready always to [give] an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear:
1Pe 3:16 Having a good conscience; that, whereas they speak evil of you, as of evildoers, they may be ashamed that falsely accuse your good conversation in Christ.
1Pe 3:17 For [it is] better, if the will of God be so, that ye suffer for well doing, than for evil doing.

We should carefully consider, before claiming that we are suffering for righteousness’ sake, the nature of our suffering:

  • Are we experiencing the common troubles that have come upon all mankind since Adam’s fall?
Job 5:6 Although affliction cometh not forth of the dust, neither doth trouble spring out of the ground;
Job 5:7 Yet man is born unto trouble, as the sparks fly upward.

As we read in the Shorter Catechism, Question 19: What is the misery of that estate whereinto man fell? All mankind by their fall lost communion with God, are under his wrath and curse, and so made liable to all miseries in this life, to death itself, and to the pains of hell for ever.

  • Are we suffering because of wrongdoing on our part? If so, we cannot claim to be suffering for righteousness’ sake.
  • Are we reaping the fruits of prior sins? If so, we cannot claim to be suffering for righteousness’ sake, though we have repented of those sins and they have been forgiven us.

We must examine our hearts carefully before claiming that we are suffering for righteousness’ sake. Is our daily life one of purposeful obedience to Christ? Is the fruit of the Holy Spirit – love, joy, peace, longsuffering (patience), gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance (self-control)(Galatians 5:22,23) – evident in our life? If we have done what is wrong, and are suffering some consequences, such as criticism from others or damage to our reputation, we are not suffering for righteousness’ sake, regardless of our status as Christian, elder or minister. We profane God’s name when we claim to be suffering in service to Him, when it is our own weakness, sin or folly for which we suffer.

Phl 1:27 Only let your conversation be as it becometh the gospel of Christ: that whether I come and see you, or else be absent, I may hear of your affairs, that ye stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel;
Phl 1:28 And in nothing terrified by your adversaries: which is to them an evident token of perdition, but to you of salvation, and that of God.
Phl 1:29 For unto you it is given in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for his sake;
Phl 1:30 Having the same conflict which ye saw in me, and now hear [to be] in me.

2 Responses to “Suffering for Righteousness’ Sake”

  1. Kayla says:

    Very good points, Momma. Sometimes that distinction can be very unclear…

  2. Joyce says:

    Thank you, Dearie. Yes, just because we go through hard times, we can’t automatically assume we’re suffering for righteousness’ sake – What if the Lord is disciplining us? We will certainly miss the lesson if we’re not examining our hearts!