“For what credit is it if, when you are beaten for your faults, you take it patiently? But when you do good and suffer, if you take it patiently, this is commendable before God.”
But when you do good and suffer, if you take it patiently,
The word “but” is a strong conjunction of contrast. This is a contrast between deserved and undeserved suffering. Suppose we take our lumps because of our personal problems, that is one thing. This should not disturb us. To take lumps for something that we do not deserve, that is something else.
The second “if” clause shows us how God wants us to suffer – “when you do good and suffer, if you take it patiently.” God wants us to endure suffering even when we do good patiently. This is a completely different matter than suffering from our own problems. We can suffer from our own mistakes, or we can suffer for doing “good.” Those are the two options of this verse.
In both “if” clauses, the word “patiently” occurs. Patience means endurance. It comes from two words (to stay and under) and carries the idea of staying under pressure. In this passage, it means staying under pressure with grace. We stay under without squawking, crying, or complaining. If we do right and someone wrongs us in the face of it, this is glory to God if we handle it with character. If we endure suffering in the context of the good that we do, this is grace from God.
There are immature Christians who wait around for the roof to fall in. If things are going well in their lives, they constantly look for trouble. This is morbidity. The Christian life is made up of both difficult times and times of blessing. The more we know about God’s plan and the grace of God, the more we will avoid such goofy ideas.
God wants us to develop tenacity of soul (character) at work.
God wants us to make his life manifest in difficult circumstances at our place of employment. God designs all undeserved suffering for blessing. The only opportunity for God to demonstrate his love for suffering is in time. There will be no suffering in eternity (Rev. 21:4). Undeserved suffering is a manifestation of God’s love and is an occasion to demonstrate his perfect mercy and grace. God has a special blessing for those who demonstrate character at work.
A big problem with many Christians is that they cannot take the pressure. To do well and do an honest, reliable job and receive hassle is totally intolerable in their mind. “After all, people can count on me; why should they attack me?” To “take it patiently” means to take it without griping or complaining. However, God expects the Christian to maturely address the issue and not just lie down like a whipped dog.
How much abuse can you take? Some of us cannot take much. We have more opportunities to apply this kind of grace at home than anywhere else. If someone blames us for something that we did not do, anger surges quickly into our souls. The blood rushes to our faces. Our first reaction is to vindicate ourselves. That is the natural reaction.
God expects us to live a supernatural life. God, the Holy Spirit, now indwells us. The Lord said that we are to love our enemies. It is not enough to love our friends or the people who love us (Mt. 5:43,44,46). Most of us cannot even love our friends must less our enemies. To love those who love us, the worst people can do that. To love those who do not love us in return is supernatural. A Christian who works for an employer who is considerate and pays well takes no grace. If your boss is disagreeable, unappreciative, that takes grace. That kind of life will impact non-Christians.
What is your boiling point? Does it take very little heat to make you boil over? Are you explosive? Do you get a full head of steam quickly? Do you blow your stack? If we do, we ruin our testimony. As we grow in grace, our boiling point rises. We do not blow up as quickly as we once did. There should be some evidence of spiritual growth the longer we have known the Lord. You do not pop off as quickly as you used to do. Is it now easier for people to get along with you?