Suffering for Doing Good

by Martin Luther

Who is going to harm you if you are eager to do good? But even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed. “Do not fear what they fear; do not be frightened.” ( 1 Peter 3:13-14)

Peter doesn’t want you to say that the person who harmed you was doing right. For there is a much different judgment between me and God and between me and you. For example, I can have anger, hatred, and evil desire in my heart and not hurt you. You remain unharmed and have nothing against me. But before God, I am guilty. If he punishes me, he does what is right, for I have certainly earned it. If he doesn’t punish me, then he shows mercy to me. He is right either way. But it doesn’t follow from this that the person persecuting me is also doing right. For I have not wronged that person in the same way that I have wronged God.

In Ezekiel 29:19-20, God speaks about King Nebuchadnezzar. It’s as if God were saying, “Don’t you know that he has been my servant and has served me? Now I must give him a reward. I have not yet paid him. I will give him the land of Egypt as his reward.” Nebuchadnezzar had no right to the land, but God had the right to punish others through him. In order that these evil scoundrels won’t eat their bread free of charge, God has them serve him by persecuting his people. Human reason, then, steps in and thinks that people like this must be doing well. But God is only paying them in return for their work of punishing and persecuting devout Christians. But if you endure the punishment and bless God by saying, “You are right, Lord!” you will do well. Then God will cast those people into hell and punish them for doing wrong. But he will mercifully receive you and give you eternal salvation. So let God do what he will. He will certainly repay in the end.

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13 thoughts on “Suffering for Doing Good

  1. This is such a timely message that you posted from Luther. We are so caught up in our rights and how people even Christians have hurt us. We think that God gives us those verses on loving one another so that we can say, “See you are suppose to be nice to me!” when really He put those verses in there to glorify Himself! We are to love and be kind to one another because we are His body and it glorifies Him that we love one another…NOTHING MORE! If God were being glorified through others injuring us, then we should rejoice that we are counted worthy to be vessels through which His name is glorified! When we get rid of self and have more of God then we will be able to truly love others as He calls us to love others. May God put the desire in all our hearts to glorify Him all that we do.

  2. Dear Mike,

    Timely message. Thanks for posting this. I read it over a couple of times and will reread it a few more times yet. I’ve been a bit whiney lately. Well… truth be told I have been a lot whiney and slipped into not fully trusting the LORD. And, because of that I have not been praising HIM and giving HIM the glory HE is due. I have slipped into fear and self-protectiveness.

  3. Sarah, I only read your post after I posted. Thank you for adding some extended thoughts on what Luther said. Your further development of his thoughts have also blessed me. I needed those words muchly. Thank you. Kim

  4. Kim,

    God allows that sense of His closeness, His presence if you will, to become less apparent and vivid to our hearts at times. When that happens to me I get desperate for fulfillment and pursue all sorts things that make me ashamed later. Then, I cry out to Him and then, behold, I suddendly have power to say no to the flesh, to those things that draw me from my devotion to Him. I then have self-control and patience. Without Him we can do nothing.

    In Christ

    Mike Ratliff

  5. Mike,

    Thank you for the words of instruction and understanding. Also, thank you for the reminder that without Him we can do nothing. The pattern you described is percisely my experience, too. I am glad to have you as my brother in Christ. Kim

  6. Kim, my dear sister in Christ, it seems that God allows me to experience this cycle very much. I have learned that in it, God does chisle much of “ME” away replacing that with Christ’s character. Also, for a reason I do not understand, He has given me this voice to talk about our common struggles in such a way that perhaps some struggling sheep will relate to my own struggles and be edified by the master. It is all His work and all for His glory.

    In Christ

    Mike Ratliff

  7. Isn’t it enlightening that man has to be taught about hell, instructed in righteousness, told about rewards, given the commandments, all because man has absolutely no conception of right and wrong on his own. The depraved flesh is so wicked it will even sprinkle in some religious acts in order to camoflague as moral. And man gathers a collection of what he considers “good works” and pronounces himself “righteous” in God’s sight which is in reality man making himself god. I will never fully comprehend the depth of my God-hating nature until I see my Risen Savior and I realize all my good works were grave clothes, and when I look at my new body I will not see Rick, I will see the pristine righteousness of the Sinless Lamb of God Himself. How, O how, can I love this life when the only life I have is His? And any true good works I have done were accomplished by Him through me and yet He will reward me for those?? And like a parent givng money to his child so they can place it in the offering, Jesus will reward me and then allow me to worship Him with those same rewrds. Rewards that are truly His anyway. Halleluiah, What a Savior!!!

  8. Hi Mike,
    We will never suffer in vain. PTL
    1 Corinthians 15:58 Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.

    Something John Piper quoted….

    “The evil and suffering in this world are greater than any of us can comprehend. But evil and suffering are not ultimate. God is. Satan, the great lover of evil and suffering, is not sovereign. God is.
    “He does according to his will among the host of heaven and among the inhabitants of the earth; and none can stay his hand or say to him, ‘What have you done?’” (Daniel 4:35)
    He declares “the end from the beginning and from ancient times things not yet done, saying, ‘My counsel shall stand, and I will accomplish all my purpose.’” (Isaiah 46:10)
    “Who has spoken and it came to pass, unless the Lord has commanded it? Is it not from the mouth of the Most High that good and bad come?” (Lamentations 3:37-38; see Amos 3:6)
    “Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand.” (Proverbs 19:21; see 16:9)
    “The lot is cast into the lap, but its every decision is from the Lord.” (Proverbs 16:33) .. Therefore, “if God is for us, who can be against us? . . .Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? As it is written, ‘For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.’ No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us” (Romans 8:31-37).

    Cristina

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