Obeying When It’s Hard To Obey

Slaves, in reverent fear of God submit yourselves to your masters, not only to those who are good and considerate, but also to those who are harsh. For it is commendable if someone bears up under the pain of unjust suffering because they are conscious of God. But how is it to your credit if you receive a beating for doing wrong and endure it? But if you suffer for doing good and you endure it, this is commendable before God. To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps. “He committed no sin, and no deceit was found in his mouth.” When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly.  “He himself bore our sins” in his body on the cross, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; “by his wounds you have been healed.” For “you were like sheep going astray,” but now you have returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.

(1 Peter 2:18-25)

When we read the scripture above, the first thought we might think of is “this doesn’t apply to me, but to the slaves long ago. Slaves and masters don’t exist anymore” or “Yeah, right! There is no way I’m letting someone insult me and get away with it!” If we are Christians, then we must follow what the Lord tells us to do, but first we must understand that this does apply to us today, even in our marriages, and then how it applies.

It’s true, back in biblical times and even further ahead years later, this scripture did apply to the slaves and masters of those times. But the same rules apply to all, even now. You just have to understand the terminology. When we look at the dictionary, a master is someone who is:

1. an owner of a slave, animal, etc.

2. an employer of workers or servants

3. the male head of a household

 In the Bible, Sarah often called Abraham her lord. We see this referenced in Genesis 18:12. In 1 Peter 3:5-6, Peter makes note of it and explains how all women should be the same as Sarah:

“For this is the way the holy women of the past who put their hope in God used to adorn themselves. They submitted themselves to their own husbands,  like Sarah, who obeyed Abraham and called him her lord. You are her daughters if you do what is right and do not give way to fear.”

When we define the word “lord” it is:

1. one having power or authority over others

2. the male head of the household; husband

3. a man of high rank or position

All of these apply to those in authority, be it a husband who is a priest of the home, a parent, a church leader, employer, law enforcement or government official. This, however, does not mean you must go against the authority of the Word of God. In Daniel 6, a decree was made where the people were told not to pray to any god or human except to the king. Yet Daniel, who was an administrator and very obedient to the law, did not obey this decree and continued praying to God. He was thrown into the lion’s den but was protected by God for doing right. When it came to God and his commands, Daniel did not compromise. Due to his obedience that glorified God, he was given a higher position in his job.

It’s very difficult to do right and obey when the authority figure is verbally abusive or expects you to do wrong, especially when it’s coming from a loved one. Safety is always a concern and the safety of all members of the family or workplace is of the utmost importance. Sometimes due to extreme circumstances, a spouse must find a safe place for a period of time to ensure the safety of the family. But on a whole, learning to live with difficult circumstances can be emotionally draining until the person causing the issues are healed or leaves. There will be times in our lives where we will fall under authority figures who are cruel and unjust. This will take much patience and prayer to get through. In the main scripture above, Peter is teaching the people how to walk like Christ. Christ did not retaliate when people were cruel to Him. He did not speak His mind when others were verbally abusive. There were times, however, where He countered and rebuked the Pharisees and the Sadducee’s when they tried to trick Him with questions, and Christ would teach them the correct way through scripture. Jesus knew there were those in authority who wanted to kill Him, but His mind wasn’t on vengeance but it was on the mission at hand…minister to the people and get them saved.

We need to understand the importance of self-control. If a person or situation can rule your emotions, they can rule you. When we work to have self-control of our emotions by recognizing trigger points, applying scripture and putting certain techniques into action, we will then be able to overcome every negative situation, turning it into a positive one. This doesn’t happen overnight. It takes time and practice. Loving someone and forgiving them when they’ve hurt you deeply, sometimes repeatedly, can be very difficult, but when we turn our pain over to Christ, and apply what He tells us to do in the scriptures, we can do it. Sometimes in order to teach us about forgiveness, the Lord may allow us to go through being hurt by others many times. Peter even questioned Christ about forgiveness in Matthew 18:21-22:

Then Peter came to Him and said, “Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Up to seven times?” Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven.

Why would Christ expect us to forgive so much when people continuously hurt us? It’s because He forgives us a multitude of times, even more than seventy times seven. Forgiveness is an important part of the healing process. It is to protect our hearts from damage. If we allow love and forgiveness to be pushed out of our hearts, the only other thing that can take it’s place is hatred and unforgiveness. With God, it’s all about the heart.

Our human nature is to retaliate when something cruel is said or done to us, but we must stand firm against retaliation as Christ did and entrust ourselves to God, allowing Him to vindicate us. The more we walk like Christ and do as He calls us to do, the more commendable it is to God. There will be times we may slip up, but we can’t allow ourselves to be defeated by it. We must repent, rise back up, dust ourselves off, and keep moving forward. It’s only when we stay back and allow it to consume us have we become defeated. We must put our trust in Christ and in His words of victory. Because Christ is victorious, we are victorious.

If you’ve been bitten by anger, jealousy, bitterness, pride, or unforgiveness, repent now and ask God for forgiveness and then be even more determined to get back on track. If you are being treated cruelly or unjustly, take it to the Lord, seek His guidance and direction and wait upon Him to tell you what to do or to rescue you.

“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.” (Joshua 1:9)

‘Fear not, for I am with you; Be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, Yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.’ (Isaiah 41:10)

Remember, the enemy is working more diligently as the time for the Lord to come gets shorter. He will try to tempt us to turn away from God and everything we stand for as Christians. He will utilize every tool, especially confusion and fear, and push every button. No one is exempt. When we see a brother or sister in Christ struggling, we must come beside them and pray for them. When we see our spouses or children struggling, we must pray all the more to cover them. We must be united and not divided. The order that God has put this world in is under attack. Marital roles are reversing. Rebellion is running rampant. We need to start praying diligently for God to put things back in order and it all starts with us.

Take time now to examine your heart. Ask God to make you aware of anything that isn’t godly in your life. Ask Him to show you where you’ve moved off the path and then ask Him to get you right back on it. God seeks for us to be obedient in every aspect of our lives. There isn’t any sin God can’t forgive if you take the time to repent and work even harder at changing yourself. Remember, God is on your side and He’s in control. Never give up nor give in. Pick up your sword…the Bible…and go to battle in prayer!

Lord, my battle is fierce right now. I pray God that you will give me the strength to continue moving forward. Take control of my emotions and grant me self-control. When I slip, help me to get back up and keep moving forward. Lord, I can’t do this without you but I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me as it states in Philippians 4:13. Thank you Jesus for your love and your mercy. Help me to be able to love and forgive as you do and cleanse my heart of all impurities. I ask this in Jesus name…Amen.