“If ye suffer for righteousness’ sake, happy are ye: and be not afraid, … neither be troubled.”—1 Peter 3:14
There are various kinds of suffering which we see in the world, and which, according to the Scriptures, God views and deals with in different ways. First, there is the suffering that comes about because we are all descendants of Adam, and inheritors of the condemnation of sin and death which he received because of disobedience. The remedy for this suffering is only to be found in God’s plan, whereby he sent his Son, Jesus, to be a corresponding price—or ransom—for Adam. This will ultimately release Adam, and hence his progeny, from the penalty of sin and its resulting suffering of sickness and death. The Scriptures testify: “Christ Jesus; Who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time” (1 Tim. 2:5,6).
Another form of suffering is that which we endure because of our own wrongdoing. Although this suffering may be partially due to our fallen condition inherited from Adam, there is at least a measure of responsibility on our part, to the extent of our knowledge of the principles of right and wrong. The Apostle Peter warns us against falling into this kind of suffering: “Let none of you suffer as a murderer, or as a thief, or as an evildoer” (1 Pet. 4:15).
Our theme scripture describes “suffering for righteousness.” Peter comments further on this kind of suffering saying, “Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, … But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ’s sufferings; … If ye be reproached for the name of Christ, happy are ye; … If any man suffer as a Christian, let him not be ashamed; but let him glorify God on this behalf” (1 Pet. 4:12-14,16). Suffering for righteousness is that which occurs as the child of God endeavors to follow the example of Christ, while in the midst of opposition, reproach, ridicule, and even persecution. Those who suffer in this way are counted as “happy,” and can “rejoice,” because their sufferings are developing in them the necessary qualities to be sympathetic “priests” in Christ’s coming kingdom.