Therefore, since Christ suffered in his body, arm yourselves also with the same attitude, because whoever suffers in the body is done with sin. As a result, they do not live the rest of their earthly lives for evil human desires, but rather for the will of God. For you have spent enough time in the past doing what pagans choose to do—living in debauchery, lust, drunkenness, orgies, carousing and detestable idolatry. They are surprised that you do not join them in their reckless, wild living, and they heap abuse on you. But they will have to give account to him who is ready to judge the living and the dead. For this is the reason the gospel was preached even to those who are now dead, so that they might be judged according to human standards in regard to the body, but live according to God in regard to the spirit (1 Peter 4:1-6).
Life’s too short to waste it sinning.
Suffering has a way of showing us what’s really important. The pain of suffering burns away the distractions and dross, revealing what is true, honest, and lasting. That’s what Peter’s getting at here: the refining power of suffering. It doesn’t make it fun. Nor should we go running out looking for suffering. But it also doesn’t mean we have to fear suffering or be crushed under its weight. God’s deliverance sometimes means being delivered from suffering, but sometimes it means being delivered through it. Suffering is not proof that God has abandoned us; it is an opportunity to experience his presence, power, and peace in the middle of our pain.
In the hands of God, suffering is a tool that refines us. Life gets busy. And in the rush of ball games and homework and stretching money to fit your month and keeping up with who said what on Twitter this week, sometimes our vision gets cloudy. Darkened. We see what’s right in front of our noses and forget to look beyond for the light of the eternal. Suffering strips the veil away and forces us to look at what really matters. Not the things our world says we should want, but God’s will–that which is bigger and brighter and infinitely more real than anything else we could put in its place. And so those who suffer turn their back on sin and turn their faces toward God, because life’s too short to waste it on anything else.
Yeah, life’s too short to waste it sinning. “For you have spent enough time doing what pagans choose to do” (1 Peter 4:3). And haven’t we? Haven’t we wasted enough time on sin’s deceit? On believing the lie that gossip is a substitute for friendship or that porn and erotica can take the place of true intimacy? On trying to use the socially acceptable drugs of food and entertainment to fill the holes in our souls? On cramming our calendars with endless activity because filling all the whitespace will make us truly matter? Or on burying ourselves under a mountain of debt because just this one more thing will make us happy, and don’t we deserve it anyway?
We’ve spent enough time on that mess. And aren’t you ready to exchange it for something real? Community. Grace. Rest. Purpose. Freedom. Holiness. Truth. All that waits for us at the foot of the cross, when we finally learn what it means to call Jesus “Lord”and mean it.
It doesn’t mean life will be perfect. Living differently makes you stand out, and a culture that demands conformity may resist it. “They are surprised that you do not join them in their reckless, wild living and they heap abuse on you” (1 Peter 4:4). You don’t have to look far to find examples these days. So be it. If we do what is right and suffer anyway, it’s nothing new. So did Jesus. Don’t fear those who can kill our bodies–look to the One who saves our souls.
Life’s too short to waste. Spend it well.
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