This morning I got stuck on a phrase in my reading in 1Peter 2. A phrase translated very differently in the ESV than in other translations. While it seems the other translations chose to render it according to what they believe it means in context, the ESV translators just left it out there literally, I think to leave the interpretation more to the reader. So this morning, this reader’s been noodling on it. Looking back on previous posts, seems I was in the same place the morning of October 16, 2012. Brushing off those thoughts and re-working them a bit, I’m again a bit in wonder at what Peter says about something he calls “a grace thing” . . .
One of the most surprising things about 1Peter, I think, is that Peter’s answer to suffering is submission. Peter doesn’t offer escape routes . . . doesn’t coach on civil disobedience . . . doesn’t relax the standards of being a royal priesthood in order to fit in better and cause fewer waves. Instead, after painting a picture of the wonder of their salvation in the first part of His letter . . . of fixing their eyes on the prize to come so that they might be encouraged to keep running the race . . . the apostle then focuses on their calling as a “chosen race” and a “holy nation” (2:9-10). As “sojourners and exiles” (2:11) Peter calls them to live in a way that their very conduct will glorify God (2:12). And part of that conduct . . . submitting. How come? Because it’s a grace thing!
Servants, be subject to your masters with all respect, not only to the good and gentle but also to the unjust. For this is a gracious thing, when, mindful of God, one endures sorrows while suffering unjustly. For what credit is it if, when you sin and are beaten for it, you endure? But if when you do good and suffer for it you endure, this is a gracious thing in the sight of God. (1Peter 2:18-20 ESV)
That repeated phrase, “a gracious thing”, jumped off the page at me this morning. A bit unfamiliar to this past NKJV reader where it’s translated “commendable”. So I checked out the Greek behind the word. Sure enough it’s charis . . . the word commonly translated grace.
So Peter says be subject to those who are over you in the food chain (kind of). Here it’s the work food chain . . . but he also speaks of those in government . . . and will go on to speak of those in the family setting . . . and those even in the church. He’s says submit to them, even if they’re jerks (CLTV . . . Corak’s Loosely Translated Version). Peter says if you submit even to the unjust . . . if you suffer for doing good . . . if you endure when you are beaten though you’ve done nothing deserving of it . . . then, it’s a grace thing.
And as I noodle on it there seems to be a least three facets that shine light on this grace thing.
Obviously it’s showing grace to the unjust . . . an undeserved, unmeritted subjection. And that’s kind of intriguing because how’s that possible apart from the Spirit? It’s not a natural response to double up the determination to be a good slave, especially for an unjust master, unless something, or Someone, is moving you to see all of life in the context of a bigger picture and empowers you to live life with a heavenly mindset. That’s fruit of the Spirit. Thus, a grace thing is a Spirit of God sanctification thing.
Then there’s also an aspect of which the grace thing is noticed by God, hence the rendering of “commendable” in the other translations. When the Father sees His children living in a manner which reflects something of His own compassion and patience it affords Him a joy, pleasure, and delight. As He sees the fruit of the sanctifying work of His Spirit in His people evidenced by “unnatural” reactions to suffering . . . because they know they are suffering for His sake . . . the grace thing touches His heart. So, a grace thing is also a Father pleasing thing.
And I guess a third aspect to this grace thing is the manner in which it reflects the Savior.
For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in His steps. He committed no sin, neither was deceit found in His mouth. When He was reviled, He did not revile in return; when He suffered, He did not threaten, but continued entrusting Himself to Him who judges justly. (1Peter 2:21-23 ESV)
Jesus is the ultimate example of a grace thing. For the love of a lost people, Jesus endured unjust suffering without retaliation. “He was oppressed, and He was afflicted, yet He opened not his mouth; like a lamb that is led to the slaughter, and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent, so He opened not His mouth” (Isa. 53:7). He entrusted Himself to the just God. The just God who would also be the Justifier as He determined to pay the ransom for sinners with the blood of His perfect Son. And the Son delighted to the Father’s will. So when we see a grace thing surfacing in our lives it should also be a Christ exalting thing . . . a reminder of Him who embodied the abundance of divine grace.
A Father pleasing thing . . . a Son exalting thing . . . a Spirit sanctification thing.
I guess a grace thing is a fullness of God thing.
For His glory . . .