Taking a stand for righteousness
In the gospel of John, Jesus is quoted saying, “Remember the words I spoke to you: ‘No servant is greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also.”
If you follow Christ, you are familiar with what Jesus said in John 16:33, “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”
How do you cope with situations when you are ridiculed or strongly challenged and opposed because of a stand you have taken for righteousness?
Those who do not follow Christ or the weak simply avoid talking about Jesus or taking a stand for righteousness.
To understand the consequences of righteous behavior, Peter wrote, “For it is commendable if a man bears up under the pain of unjust suffering because he is conscious of God.” (1 Peter 2:19)
Peter goes on to point out that it is not to your credit if the suffering is for something wrong that you did. He continues by saying, “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.”
Peter explains this is why we were called, and Jesus provided us an example to follow. He then tells exactly how Jesus responded: “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.” (1 Peter 2:22-23)
That response shows maturity and self-control! How often we are tempted to return an insult for an insult! How tempting it is to make a clever or witty remark to get back at someone.
Peter then further explains, “He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, 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 2:24-25)
Peter is very clear that a follower of Christ is one who has chosen to live above the standards of the world, “so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness”.
The apostle Paul writes this about Christian behavior.
“What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means! We died to sin; how can we live in it any longer? Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life … I put this in human terms because you are weak in your natural selves. Just as you used to offer the parts of your body in slavery to impurity and to ever-increasing wickedness, so now offer them in slavery to righteousness leading to holiness. When you were slaves to sin, you were free from the control of righteousness. What benefit did you reap at that time from the things you are now ashamed of? Those things result in death! But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves to God, the benefit you reap leads to holiness, and the result is eternal life. For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (excerpts from Romans 6:16)
Jim Squires preaches at the Church of Christ and is active in Leadership Glendive and Toastmasters.