1 Peter 4:12-14
Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you:…
Behold, think it not strange concerning, etc. Some have thought Peter is alluding to the burning of Rome, but both because the conception of suffering generally as fire is very common in the Old Testament Scripture, with which Peter shows himself familiar, and also because he is writing to Christians, upon whom through all parts of the Asiatic provinces of Rome the cruelties of Nero's persecution were being in many ways wreaked, we conclude that "the fiery trial" is a wider and more scathing and more enduring conflagration than that which destroyed the imperial city. So the lessons here are of wide application. They cover the whole scope of Christian suffering.
I. THE CHRISTIAN MUST NOT RECKON HIS SUFFERINGS AS STRANGE. Tenderly, with the word "beloved," Peter bids Christian sufferers not to feel themselves bewildered as men in a strange country. Do not let suffering shock you. Do not fear as you enter into the cloud. Why not? Because:
1. The sorrows the Christian shares in common with the world generally are not strange. His religion will not exempt him from bodily pain, business calamities, social bereavement, physical death.
2. The sorrows that Christians endure in persecution because they are Christians are not strange. Persecution is not to be wondered at. It is
(1) an instinct of evil men;
(2) in harmony with all history. The flippant dislike the real, the unclean are angry with the pure, the votaries of error are irritated with the teachers of truth, the wicked hate the good; hence the pains and penalties of persecution are not strange.
3. The sorrows that are the direct result of Christian spirit and character are not strange.
(1) Grief for sin and imperfection;
(2) compassion for the miserable;
(3) self-sacrificing sympathy for the vicious and wretched.
No. Trial is not "strange;" for:
(1) It meets the necessities of Christian character. "It cometh upon you to prove you."
(2) It is in fulfillment of the repeated declarations of God's Word.
(3). It is in harmony with all the biographies of good men. The device on the Church's shield is the bush that burns and yet is not consumed.
II. THE CHRISTIAN MAY FIND IN HIS SORROWS A CAUSE FOR PROFOUND JOY. To Peter, as well as his beloved brother Paul, the vast region of sorrow was not unknown or unexplored; they did not feel "strange" in it, as bewildered men in a foreign country. They had descried light on its hill-tope, drunk of streams in its deserts, plucked flowers in its solitudes, eaten manna in its wastes. How was this? They were "partakers of Christ's sufferings." Some of our Lord's sorrows are infinite secrets. Some can be known and shared. Such as:
1. Agonizing sensitiveness to sire His sigh, tear, groan, we may know in our experience.
2. Sacrificial compassion for sinners.
3. Sternly self-denying loyalty to duty. In all these we may, we must as Christians, be partakers of Christ's sufferings. "At the revelation of his glory." These words speak of unspeakable future joy. To rejoice in the revelation of his glory, which will be the triumph of pity, of purity, of the mission to bless others, we must be partakers of his sufferings. Blessed now with reproach for his sake, we shall, by growing resemblance to him and gracious reward from him, be blessed then. "The Spirit of glory and of God resteth on you." This token of the Divine presence not simply indicates the continuance of God with you, but the satisfaction of God in you. His spirit "resteth" upon you. The teaching is:
(1) God is near those who are partakers of Christ's sufferings. The Spirit of God is with them.
(2) God is near them to glorify them, and himself to rejoice in them. "The Spirit of glory resteth. The music of the Beatitudes is ringing through Peter's soul, and he flings out their consoling, inspiriting tones to all who were or ever shall be in the fiery trial" through which all Christians pass. "Blessed are they that are persecuted for righteousness' sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven." - U.R.T.
Parallel VersesKJV: Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you: