[Adorned with True Beauty 7] Adorned with Beauty in Unjust Suffering
A Precious Word from God
“Do not return evil for evil or insult for insult, but instead bless others because you were called to inherit a blessing.” 1 Peter 3:9 (NET)
We are on the home stretch with our lessons. Hang in there another 3 weeks and you will complete the entire study of 1 Peter. I love the feeling of accomplishment that I get when I put the last touches on a study! If you have missed one or more lessons or days of homework, plan to do them during the period when we aren’t meeting. Don’t feel defeated but persevere day by day as best you can to finish the entire course.
During the second week of our homework, we looked at the fact that God uses trials of all kinds to refine us into the image of Jesus. In this lesson we consider the specific sufferings that believers face from other people. Some of this is persecution that we encounter. Our sufferings for Christ are generally not as serious as they are for those in some areas of the world. However, we must be faithful to respond to the persecution that we do encounter in God’s way. It’s not an easy thing to do even if we aren’t thrown in prison!
Day One Study
Read 1 Peter 3:8-22.
1. What qualities are we to exhibit according to v. 8?
- Diamonds in the Word: Look up the Greek words for these qualities and write down the verse, adding your expanded definitions into the verse.
2. As you can see, v. 8 begins with “finally” (NET) or “to sum up” (NASB). How do vv. 8-12 sum up what we have studied over the past couple of weeks? (You will need to reread 1 Peter 2:11-3:7.)
3. Sharing question: Consider each quality that you listed. How are you doing in these areas? Write down an assessment of your progress on each of these separately. For instance, how are you doing on being harmonious (consider it in terms of the relationships that Peter mentioned in 2:13-3:7 and then other relationships as well)? Do this with each specific quality.
4. How does being humble in spirit relate to the other qualities?
5. Responding to God: Write a prayer asking God for the grace to exhibit the qualities of v. 8. Confess to Him where you have fallen short. Pray for your attitude toward specific people with whom you are struggling in these areas.
Day Two Study
Reread 1 Peter 3:8-22.
I intentionally left off the challenge of v. 9 yesterday so that we could deal with it as an independent instruction. It is our “Precious Word from God” for this week. Work on memorizing it. This is one that could come in handy at any timeJ
6. Copy v. 9 below to help you memorize it. Why is it such a challenge?
- Diamonds in the Word: Peter quotes from Psalm 34:12-16 in 3:10-11. Read the entire Psalm and write down any insights that you have from it.
Usually I don’t encounter people who do evil against me personally, but I do almost daily come across a similar type of situation driving in Dallas! According to 1 Peter 3:8, when someone cuts me off, I am not to retaliate. When I get a green light and someone runs the red light on the other side, I am not to get angry and try to hit them (not that I have done this!). I should not make coarse gestures or speak condemning words under my breath. I guess I shouldn’t even be honking in anger - this is my usual mode of operation. As a believer, I am not to get angry with those who treat me badly; rather I must see them as God does and treat them as Jesus did those who crucified Him.
7. Sharing question: What actions make you want to retaliate - not necessarily driving? How have you returned that treatment in the past?
8. What specific ways to obey vv. 8-9 are given in vv. 10-12?
9. What specific blessings for the one who obeys vv. 8-9 are mentioned in vv. 10-12?
Today words of insult or evil against us would be called verbal abuse if they came from a spouse. Our culture suggests that we have cause to divorce a man who treats us this way.
10. What are we to do instead according to these verses and those in 1 Peter 3:1-6?
- Diamonds in the Word: Read Matt. 5:43-46. How does it relate to these verses in 1 Pet.?
11. Responding to God: Write a prayer for grace to respond correctly when you encounter insults from anyone. If there is someone in your life who speaks to you this way, pray for the grace of God to respond correctly. This is not an easy obedience. If you have no one like that in your life, think of someone whom you know who is in a hard situation at work or at home and pray for her. Write her a note of encouragement.
Day Three Study
Reread 1 Peter 3:8-22 to put yourself back into the context of these verses.
Peter says we are to keep our tongues from evil (v. 10). That sounds easy until someone speaks hurtful, evil words to us. Our automatic desire is to hurt them back with our words. James has a lot to say about the tongue - its use and its effect upon others.
Read James 3:2-12.
12. With what things does James compare the tongue? What other terms does he use to describe it? How do these help you picture the effects of the tongue?
13. Why are we not to speak to other people with insults and evil according to James 3:9?
14. Peter uses Jesus as our example of how to respond to this kind of treatment in 1 Peter 2:21-23. What do you learn from His example?
15. If we choose to respond in the way that we have been spoken to, what is the consequence according to 1 Peter 3:12? Why is that a scary thought?
16. Sharing question: Share with your group some ways that you have learned to seek and pursue peace with those who have mistreated you or ways that you have learned to give a blessing in response to insult. There is no need to mention the specific person with whom you have dealt in this area. Just share how you learned to respond well, not how the other person sinned.
- Diamonds in the Word: Read Galatians 5:16-26. Relate these verse to 1 Peter 3:8-12.
Day Four Study
Read 1 Peter 3:13-17.
- Diamonds in the Word: What is the theme of this paragraph? To determine this, ask these questions - What is it primarily about? What ideas are most repeated?
17. Mark in your Bibles the word “suffer” in this paragraph. To what kind of suffering is Peter referring? How do you know?
18. List the responses that Peter suggests for this kind of suffering.
19. Sharing question: Have you ever suffered for doing what is right? If so, share the situation and your response with your group. Did you respond as Peter suggests?
Read 1 Peter 3:18-22.
This is a difficult section to understand. There have been a number of interpretations given for it. One thing that has really helped me as I have studied the Bible is to focus on what is clear and what I can learn rather than putting all my interest in the unknown and the strange! God has so much to tell us. We waste a lot of time worrying about the minor areas that are clouded from our perspective today. In heaven we will either learn the truth or we won’t care. I tend to believe the latter.
20. What is clear in this passage? How does it reinforce Peter’s teaching in vv. 13-17?
- Diamonds in the Word: Read a number of commentaries on this passage. Which interpretation seems the most likely to you and why?
21. Sharing question: What does it mean to you personally that Jesus died for your sins once for all, meaning for all time? Responding to God: Spend some time praising Jesus for what He has done for you.
Day Five Study
Reread 1 Peter 3:13-4:6.
22. According to 4:1-2, with what purpose are you to arm yourself?
The word “arm” is a military term, so we are preparing for battle by adopting this purpose. Battle terminology is not popular in some quarters of the church anymore. Yet, we are in a battle and must be prepared by being armed with proper weapons.
23. How does Peter describe the lifestyle of the Gentiles? How are they responding to the Christians? Why?
We also face opposition from those with similar attitudes. How are we responding to people who treat us poorly or unfairly? Are we truly reflecting the beauty of Christ in our actions and attitudes? This lesson is not an easy one. I have not mastered it in any way. Only by the grace and power of God can we respond as Peter has challenged us to do.
Rosie was my husband’s mother. My husband and I only dated 3 months prior to getting married and I had only met his mother twice prior to our marriage. Nothing could have prepared me for Rosie.
Rosie had grown up in a household of physical abuse from both her father and her brothers. She had married my husband’s dad to get away from home, but he was also physically abusive. She had a total of 7 children, one of whom died, within the course of 9 years before she and her husband were divorced. My husband was the oldest of these children. As a single mom of 6 children, she took in boarders and ironing in order to keep food on the table for her children. She was a very insecure and angry mother, who took out her fears and frustrations both verbally and physically on her children. However, her children became her life and she became a very controlling mother. She eventually remarried and was married to her second husband for 23 years. That marriage ended tragically as well, leaving her more insecure and angry.
Rosie had 5 boys and 1 girl. She was very protective and controlling of all of her children, and she was also very jealous of their affections for others. My husband was the oldest of her sons, so she felt betrayed when he married me and we moved into our own home several miles away from her. It was not uncommon for her to call our house 10 to 12 times per day. Many of the conversations were angry outbursts.
I found it very difficult to love Rosie. I did not have a personal relationship with the Lord during the early days of my marriage so my response to her was not Christ like. Rosie knew the Lord but did not know His word. Her faith was based on a mixture of truth and false teaching. As God began to work in my life and I surrendered to Him in faith, He began to deal with me about my relationship with Rosie.
In my husband’s family, if someone became ill, the assumption was that they needed to be left alone until they were healed. Therefore, if they were in the hospital, no one visited them until time to bring them home. My family was the opposite. If someone was in the hospital, one or more members of my family stayed with them until they came home. Rosie became ill and was in the hospital for a week. Every morning on my way to work I would stop at the hospital and pick up and deliver fresh laundry to her. I would visit with her on my way home from work. She was so stunned by my attention. I had no thoughts that I was serving the Lord or building a relationship with her; I was merely doing what came naturally. However, the Lord used that time of her hospitalization to develop our relationship with each other. It was during this time that we began to love each other. She seemed to be able to let go of her jealousies related to my husband and began to view us as one. I loved her and treated her with a godly love, but still in my heart there was always the wariness based on the early days of our relationship and her explosiveness. I really had no idea how much I truly loved her until she died.
She lived to be 93 years old. I had known her for 30 years when she died. I received a phone call on Feb. 10, 2001 telling me that she had fallen and hit her head. Before I could get to the hospital, she had died. The death certificate said she had had a stroke prior to her fall. To this day, I miss her phone calls and wish that I could hear her voice again. Maybe, if I could start over, I would not resent the interruptions and her telling me what preacher to watch on television but would be more tolerant. I wish I could have told her how much I loved her before she died. I wonder if we will be able to tell one another we love each other when we get to heaven.
24. Sharing question: Who is your Rosie? Who speaks evil of you or insults you? To whom do you have trouble responding with the beauty of Jesus? Carry with you a copy of our verse this week and pull it out when you know that you will be encountering this difficult and unlovable person.
25. Responding to God: Talk to God about this difficult person. Confess your failures in treating her or him with blessing, harmony, and sympathy. Pray for the person in positive ways rather than merely complaining. Thank God for one positive trait in that individual. Ask Him for the beauty of Jesus in your response next time you see her/him.