I spent a lot of time this week pondering verse 1: “Since therefore Christ suffered in the flesh, arm yourselves with the same way of thinking…”
Jesus was not looking forward to suffering on the cross. His prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane reveals this… “If there is any other way… Yet not my will but Yours.” He was willing but that didn’t mean that he had to be excited about it.
None of us like the idea of suffering. I sure don’t. Suffering generally involves pain and I am not a fan of pain. In the 1st century suffering often involved physical pain because of the persecution that the early disciples were facing. In 21st century America, suffering might involve physical pain but it is just as likely to involve emotional pain or relational pain or financial pain. And because we don’t like pain we will often do what ever we can to avoid it. So we self-medicate and much of the time we self-medicate in unhealthy, sinful ways. We choose sin over suffering.
Example: Loneliness is a widespread problem in our culture today. There is a lot of emotional suffering that people are experiencing these days. Some of the ways that people self-medicate to avoid the feelings of loneliness might include alcohol or pornography or through vicarious relationships experienced on TV or Netflix that help people to forget what they are going through. People choose sin over suffering. I understand why. I am tempted to do the same. It is easier and it is a quicker fix and no one has to know that about our pain. But it is unhealthy and certainly unholy.
1 Peter in general informs us that we WILL suffer and that we need to be prepared to suffer. 1 Peter 4:1 informs us that the way to be prepared to suffer, and to be willing to choose suffering over sin, is to arm ourselves with the same kind of thinking that Jesus had. Here are a few verses to ponder that might help you to arm yourself with the mindset of our Savior…
- Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. (Philippians 4:8)
- So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand. 22 For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being, 23 but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. (Romans 7:21-23)
- For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. 4 For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. 5 We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ, 6 being ready to punish every disobedience, when your obedience is complete. (2 Corinthians 10:3-6)
- Do not be conformed to this world but be transformed by the renewal of your mind… (Romans 12:2)
- This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success. (Joshua 1:8)
- Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. (1 Peter 5:8)
May this brick help you to arm yourselves with the Word of God in a way that equips you to choose suffering when necessary over sin.