Is God Punishing Me? (2)
1 Peter 4:12-15
Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed. If you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you. But let none of you suffer as a murderer or a thief or an evildoer or as a meddler.
Since we are “justified” (i.e., declared righteous by God) children in the Father’s family, and are at peace with Him through our Lord Jesus Christ, we can be confident that a difficult period in the circumstances of our lives is not a “punishment” from God for an offense. Jesus’ death has satisfied the death-penalty for our past, present, and even future sin.
Yet our heart still searches for a reason, a cause for the current tough stuff.
Sometimes, Scripture brings a quiet smile, doesn’t it? Like the first line in the passage above. “Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial…” Hey, we are ALWAYS surprised when a fiery trial happens. Yet the Spirit through Peter is attempting to renew our thinking about the fire. He dares to suggest that it is natural for Christians who are identified with Christ to suffer burn.
But, please note the last sentence of the paragraph. In it, Peter acknowledges that sometimes there is a personal at-fault reason why we suffer. We may (yes, even Christians may!) commit offenses that have civil and/or social penalties attached. Murder someone? You’ll likely suffer in prison. Steal what isn’t yours? You’ll likely be caught, convicted, and pay a penalty. Chose to do evil? Sin always results in something good dying (cf. James 1:15) Habitually meddle (the Gk. word means to “wrongly be in a foreign area”) into situations you’ve not been invited? You may see people withdrawing from you, isolating you because you cannot be trusted.
Peter’s point — If a Christian, be sure you are not suffering because you are living foolishly, unlawfully, hurtfully. If so, you deserve it!