Keep Going

February 12, 2023 | Jess Rainer

Passage: 1 Peter 2:13-25

 Moving a mattress after falling asleep - Do you ever have those nights when you just completely crash?  Every month or so, I’ll have a night where I’m so tired that I will lay down on the couch or bed right after dinner and I’m gone… It happened last week.  After a few hours of being asleep, I woke up.  All I wanted to do was brush my teeth and go right back to bed.  But Rachel let me know we had a sick kid…Rachel wanted to sleep in the same room and she didn’t want to sleep on the floor.  So, she asked me to move a mattress into the room!  Rachel told me after the fact that she was pretty sure I would have said no.  And I almost did…I did not want to move a mattress after being asleep for 2 hours!  But I had to. I wanted to. It wasn’t about me, so I got up and moved the mattress.  If there were a consistent thread running through my life since 2020, it’s just that:  I’m tired.  I don’t really want to do the next hard thing, but it’s not about me.  So, I keep going.  If I asked for a show of hands (and I’m not) of everyone who feels tired, I think I’d see a lot of hands go up. 

As I was preparing the sermon this week, I wrestled with the Bible passage.  These passages are hitting some specific areas of life and it just didn’t seem like the right time to talk about some of these dynamics.  I kept reading and I finally just came to God and said, “How do these verses fit into my life?”  And then God drew my eyes to the second part of verse 20 and into verse 21 in 1 Peter 2:  20b But if you suffer for doing good and endure it patiently, God is pleased with you.  21 For God called you to do good, even if it means suffering, just as Christ suffered for you. He is your example, and you must follow in his steps.  God has called me to do good.  If God has called me to do good, then He will give me what I need to keep going.  Because sometimes doing good isn’t easy. When it isn’t easy, we endure patiently.  And it’s the same for you.  That’s what I want us to see this morning: For the Lord’s sake, you can keep going and keep doing good.  In our Sermon Series: Hope Fully, we’re covering all of Peter’s first letter where we see that we can have hope and have it to the fullest in Jesus.  Today and our next passage, Peter is addressing three arenas of life where we can live out our hope to do good for the Lord’s sake.  The first arena Peter addresses is our role as citizens of this world – as citizen under the rule of government.  Here’s what we see first: Even when you are tired, you can do good as a worldly citizen.

1) Even when you are tired, you can do good as a worldly citizen. (vs. 13-17)  Let me define two phrases before we go further: 

  1.  “Do Good” 
    • When we see this phrased used in this passage, doing good is living in a way as an earthly citizen that draws positive attention to God.  
    • Quote: “It is God’s will (not simply Peter’s) that Christians do good even in pagan societies, for by such behavior they will silence the slander about Christianity, and all the more so if they are publicly recognized by the authorities for good works that benefit their city.” – Karen H. Jobes.
    • Verse 21 tells us we are called to a lifestyle that benefits those around us while also silencing slander against us.  
  2. Submit
    • This is a military term that means, “to arrange in formation under the commander.”
    • The idea is that we willfully come under leadership.
    • Peter uses this word for each area of life he is addresses.
    • And its application is specific to each area.

With those in mind, look at verse 13, 14, and 15:  13 For the Lord’s sake, submit to all human authority—whether the king as head of state, 14 or the officials he has appointed. For the king has sent them to punish those who do wrong and to honor those who do right. 15 It is God’s will that your honorable lives should silence those ignorant people who make foolish accusations against you.  These verses tell us to come under the leadership of our government.  As Christians, we are called to follow the rules and laws set before us in our society, as long as they are not contrary to Scripture.  Some of you may be thinking I can’t be under the leadership of this person or that leader – they are not godly!  “Jess, do you watch the news?!”  Context: Peter is writing his letter under the rule of Nero.  Nero’s mom married the Roman Emperor Claudius in AD 37.  In AD 54 when Nero was 17 years old, his mother arranged for Claudius to be poisoned to death, and the boy was proclaimed emperor of Rome.  Nero was selfish and calculating and incapable of ruling well on his own. He became paranoid of all the rumors about plots to kill him. In 55 he had his stepbrother Britannicus killed. In 59 he had his mother executed. And in 62 his first wife was executed. And Seneca his former counselor was forced to commit suicide.  It was widely thought that Nero set Rome on fire, burning around 70% of the city so he could rebuild it and get all the glory.  Nero blamed Christians for the fire.  The effect was horrendous.  There had been no persecution like it since the Lord had risen 30 years before. In the gardens of Nero the Christians were crucified, sewn into wild beast skins and fed to dogs, drenched in flammable oil and lifted on poles to burn as torches in the night.  Peter was calling Christians to submit to Nero’s authority.  As tired as some of us are with our political system and political leaders, we still have the opportunity to do good, to do the right thing, as worldly citizens. 

Why?   Look at verse 13: “For the Lord’s sake”.  We are called to live out our hope at citizens because we desire to honor God.  But how does that honor God?  God designed the human institutions of government and civil arenas.  And He did it to regulate the acts of men – even by ungodly men and women.  That’s what verse 14 says; “To punish those who do what is evil and to praise those who do what is good”.  This is God’s design for government and rulers – to eliminate anarchy in order that the gospel may be lived out.  I want to be clear, when we submit to government, it doesn’t mean we silence our minds or our mouths.  Look at verses 16 and 17:  16 For you are free, yet you are God’s slaves, so don’t use your freedom as an excuse to do evil.  17 Respect everyone, and love the family of believers. Fear God, and respect the king.  Our first allegiance is to God.  I’ve heard it said before in many ways, but we aren’t owned by a donkey or an elephant. We belong to The Lamb.  I like how Thomas Schreiner put it:  “We have an implication here that ruling powers should be resisted if commands were issued that violated the Lord’s will. It is impossible to imagine that one would obey [worldly] commands that [break] God’s [commands] ‘for the Lord’s sake.’” – Thomas Schreiner.  The whole point of why we show respect as a worldly citizen is because we want to put our heavenly citizenship on display.  For the Lord’s sake, do good as an earthly citizen.  Even if others put you down, God is pleased.  If doing good as a citizen seems big, Peter then shrinks down this next arena of life.  Even when you are fatigued, you can do good in your workplace.

2) Even when you are fatigued, you can do good while being an unjustly treated. (vs.18-20)  Let’s look again at verses 18-20:  18 You who are slaves must submit to your masters with all respect. Do what they tell you—not only if they are kind and reasonable, but even if they are cruel. 19 For God is pleased when, conscious of his will, you patiently endure unjust treatment. 20 Of course, you get no credit for being patient if you are beaten for doing wrong. But if you suffer for doing good and endure it patiently, God is pleased with you.  This text addresses the topic of slavery.  Let me be clear:  Slavery is evil.  Scripture clearly condemns slavery.  The gospel itself undermines slavery.  You might be thinking, “Why didn’t Peter say that in this passage?”  Peter is focusing on two aspects of the societal household code as it existed.  The slave/master relationship.  And we’ll cover next time the husband/wife relationship.  The lack of rebuke on the institution of slavery is not a commendation of slavery.  What we do see with the NT writers is that they didn’t focus on the social reform of slavery, but rather focused on the hearts of the slaves who were treated unjustly.  There are many places where we will get treated unjustly.  It might be the workplace.  It might be the legal system.  It might be an institution.    It might be a friend, a spouse, or even a church.  Application: What do we do?  What does it say in verse 19 and 20?  “You patiently endure” (vs. 19)  “If you suffer for doing good and endure it patiently, God is pleased with you.” (vs. 20)  Does this mean Christians are supposed to be doormats?  Not at all.  We stand up for injustice.  We fight for what is right.  We pray for deliverance.  But in every circumstance of injustice, we act in a way that brings glory to God.  If we respond in a Christ-centered way to unjust actions against us, we bring glory to God.  

Illustration: Eric Liddell after the Olympics[1]  I was reminded in all of this of the story of Eric Liddell, the Scottish Olympic runner in the 1920’s whose story inspired the movie Chariots of Fire.  We remember Liddell for what the movie depicts—how because of his religious convictions, he refused to race on Sunday. And it is an awesome movie.  But what we often skip is that after he became an Olympic gold medalist, Liddell left to be a missionary in China in 1925. He worked in one of the poorest provinces in the country, and when war broke out in 1941, the British government ordered all of their citizens to leave China.  But Liddell stayed, because he knew his ultimate allegiance wasn’t to the British government or the Chinese one; it was to God. And when the Japanese army got closer to his city in 1942, he stayed to help the poor Chinese he’d given his life to. And when in 1943 the Japanese took the city, he was sent to an internment camp, where he spent the last two years of his life.  All who knew him there described him as selfless, loving, and completely focused on others. The Japanese selected a random group to be set free and he was one of them. He gave up his spot to a pregnant woman and was shot.  How does one live this way? Eric Liddell didn’t expect England or China to be his home; he suffered, thinking of his heavenly home, “entrusting himself to him who judges justly.”  You can do good for God’s glory. And I hope these last few verses are an encouragement to you.  You can keep going because Christ never gave up.

3) You can keep going because Christ never gave up. (vs. 21-25)  Peter reminds us that suffering is part of this life.  Look at verse 21:  21 For God called you to do good, even if it means suffering, just as Christ suffered for you. He is your example, and you must follow in his steps.  That’s a tough pill to swallow.  As Christians, suffering will be a part of our life.  But suffering is not our lives – it’s not who we are – it’s part of our lives and it will end.  But as quickly as Peter tells us suffering will happen, he immediately draws our attention to Jesus.  Jesus suffered for us.  Jesus could have ridden around in the finest chariot with all the comforts of the world.  But He chose a donkey and willingly went to the cross instead.  Look at what Jesus did:  22 He never sinned, nor ever deceived anyone.  23 He did not retaliate when he was insulted, nor threaten revenge when he suffered. He left his case in the hands of God, who always judges fairly.  In the midst of unjust treatment, Jesus never waived. Jesus never gave up. Not only did he go through the mental and social anguish, Jesus also went through the physical and spiritual anguish.  24 He personally carried our sins in his body on the cross so that we can be dead to sin and live for what is right. By his wounds you are healed.  Even though Jesus knew He would never receive earthly justice, He never gave up.  And look what that means for us in verse 25:  25 Once you were like sheep who wandered away. But now you have turned to your Shepherd, the Guardian of your souls.  Jesus never gave up because He knew that His suffering would lead to salvation.  The only way you can keep going is through the power of the Holy Spirit.  Even if you are tired, even if you are fatigued, you can keep going.  You can keep going because the power of the Holy Spirit lives inside of you.  The Holy Spirit that you can receive because Christ never gave up for you.

Two nights ago, I was woken up again. This time with a kid with a bad dream.  There were tears, there were hugs, there were, “Dad, can you please come into my room with me?”  Again, I was tired.  And there was a part of me that didn’t want to get up.  So, I tapped Rachel on the shoulder… (not really!)  Even though I was tired, I got up, we sought the Lord at 1am, and we kept going.  For the Lord’s sake, keep going.  For the Lord’s sake, you CAN keep going.  Some of you need to believe that truth.  You feel so tired that you don’t think you can keep going.  Don’t believe the lie.  You have the Holy Spirit living inside of you.  The same power that rose Jesus from the dead is the same power that can keep you moving and doing good.  Believe the truth.  For the Lord’s sake, keep doing good.  Do the things that draw attention to Him and glory to Him.  Let’s be a church that admits we are tired, but in the same breath, says, “For the Lord’s sake, I can keep going and I can keep doing good.”  God will do more than we ask or think.  God will do more than you can ask or think.  And we’ll give Him all the glory for it. 

[1] Taken from

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Series Information

This 13-week series focuses on 1 Peter where we will look at what it means to have hope as sojourners.  This chapter points us towards eternal hope.  The Christian hope is more than mere optimism that says things will “hopefully” work out. It is a sure hope, and so we “hope fully” (1 Peter 1:13) through every trial and test of faith.

Other sermons in the series

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January 22, 2023

Hope Grows

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January 29, 2023

Life with Jesus

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February 05, 2023

Keep Your Identity

1Peter 2:11-12 [ESV] 11 Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles to...

February 26, 2023

Hope-Filled Marriage

1 Peter 3:1, 7 [ESV] 1 Likewise, wives, be subject to your own...

March 05, 2023

Many Good Days

1 Peter 3:12 [ESV] 12 For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous...

March 19, 2023

Life Choices

1 Peter 4:10-11 [ESV] 10 As each has received a gift, use it to serve...

March 26, 2023

Continue to Rejoice

1 Peter 4:19 [ESV] 19 Therefore let those who suffer according to God's...