How We Endure Conflict

Now always remember there are people who are watching you.

Scripture: 1 Peter 2:17-19, 2 Corinthians 2:21-24


Alright, thank you very much. And hello again my dear radio friends. How in the world are you?Yes, that little greeting establishes the fact that this is indeed your good friend Bob Cook, and I’m glad to be back with you. The miles drop away and we’re together with the Word of God. Isn’t that great? Oh I’m glad, I’m grateful to God for the privilege of just being with you as we share the Word of God together.

We’re in 1 Peter 2, and he’s talking to servants — specially he addresses it to domestics, servants in the house. We have broadened it to mean employees because that’s the kind of culture we live in. He said, “Be subject to your employers with all fear.” That means reverence and, and, and respect not only to the good and gentle boss, but to the ‘froward’. That means the boss who is absolutely impossible to get along with.

“For,” he said, “this is thankworthy.” Now see here, here’s an interesting contrast. Verse 19 has to do with being thanked. This is thankworthy. Verse 20 has to do with glory. That has to do with God, thankworthy has to do with people. You get the idea? He says, “This is thankworthy.” If you want people to respect you and your, your position, and your relat-, your relationship with God, then he said, this is thankworthy, this is something people will thank you for.

“If, if a man for conscience toward God endure grief, suffering, wrongfully” — you don’t have to fight back, don’t have to talk back, you don’t have to get back at people, you just keep on serving God. Conscience toward God. He said this is thankworthy. Now always remember there are people who are watching you. A man said to me not long ago, he said, “I have watched you since I was a teenager.” This man here I think in his, in his middle 50’s at least. And so he said, “I’ve watched you since I was a teenager, watched your life and your ministry.”

Well, that shook me up a little you know, to think that somebody had his eye on me all that time. (Laughs) I don’t suppose that this gentleman was all the time occupied with watching Bob Cook. But at the same time you know, he said, “I watched you.” Well people do watch you. And there’s no escaping it. You are on stage all the time, beloved. And he says, “This is thankworthy, if you and I because we’re serving God…”

Conscience towards God, I want to be right with God — because of that you endure grief, suffering, wrongfully, that’s thankworthy. “People appreciate that,” he said. Then he changes the metaphor and he talks about glory, something that’s acceptable with God. What glory is it if when you’re buffeted for your faults you take it patiently? Well that doesn’t glorify God particularly. If you’re, if you, if you’ve gotten into trouble and you’re being buffeted or, or prosecuted, or punished, and you’re, and, and you’re patient while you’re being punished, he said that doesn’t glorify God particularly.

But if when you do well, and suffer for it, you take it patiently… And that’s our, our old word, ‘stay down’, ‘don’t, don’t bob up or blow up or give up’, hupomoné, patient’. This is acceptable with God. If you want to glorify God, then look heavenward and keep on, on, keep on honoring Him and obeying Him even when you’re criticized. Now, Peter took this concept right out of the lips of his Savior. You remember what we call the Beatitudes? You know the blesseds in Mathew 5? Well they end with, “Blessed are ye, blessed are ye when men shall revile you and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you…” What’s the next word, you remember? “…say all manner of evil against you falsely for my sake, rejoice and be exceeding glad.”

So Peter had learnt his lessons well, and he uses the same concept here in his letter to his friends. If when you do well and suffer for it… I think it was Dr. Pettingill years ago who used to emphasize the… if they say evil against you and it’s true, then don’t blame God for it. But if they say all manner of evil against you falsely, if it isn’t true, then he says, “Rejoice and be exceeding glad you’re blessed.” Why? Because you’re right with God, you’re doing His will, and you know it.

It’s an interesting fact: you generally know who and what you are, regardless of what people say. And all the complaining that, that we do about, about what folk gossip about us and all of that; we know down deep in our hearts just exactly what kind of people we are. And so once you’ve settled your own relationship with God and you know that you’re right with Him, and that you’re walking in His will, you don’t really have to worry too much about what people say.

I have a little Cookism I use sometime that goes something like this: ‘There’s room for the occasional misunderstanding where people will talk critically of you. But what folk say about you over 20 years time will be precisely the truth. You don’t fool people — they know. And you don’t have to get back at anybody, you just keep on serving the Lord. It glorifies God if when you do well, and then you suffer for it, you take it patiently. “This,” said he, “is acceptable to God.”

Now he, he puts another nail in this package. He says, “Here unto were ye called.” God called you to this. “Oh come on now, Lord! I thought if I were a Christian, everything was going to be fine, everything would be coming up roses, everything, I wouldn’t have any troubles, everything would be just joy and peace and happiness.” No. “Here unto were ye called, because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us example that we should follow His steps. He did no sin, neither was guile found in His mouth. When He was reviled, He reviled not again. When He suffered, He threatened not, but committed Himself to Him that judgeth righteously.”

“Here unto were ye called.” Oh that, that really disturbs me that, that I’m called. Am I called to this? Yes you are, you are. That is exactly it. Called. Now how do you, how do you relate this to your own life? I don’t think that, that God is asking any of us to indulge in some kind of religious masochism where we delight in flagellating ourselves and in hurting, and in feeling bad. That is not normal Christianity. Normal Christianity is triumphing in spite of what happens.

Paul said in 2 Corinthians 2, “Thanks be unto God which always causeth us to triumph in Christ and maketh manifest by us the fragrance of His knowledge in every place.” Called. Hereunto were you called. Now, what does he make of that? What is this calling? It’s a calling to suffering — verse 21,; it’s a calling to follow an example — verse 21; it’s a calling to a holy life — “He did no sin”; it’s a calling to speech that is without guile — verse 22; it’s a calling to non-resistance — “When He was reviled, He reviled not again. When He suffered, He threatened not.” No hitting back. And it’s a calling to absolute commitment to the God who makes no mistakes. “He committed Himself to Him that judgeth righteously.” That’s a big pa-, that’s a big package, isn’t it? You want to think about it?

He starts with the cross. Christ also suffered for us. He gets back to that theme in verse 24: “His own self bear our sins, and his own body on the tree, that we being dead, the sin should live unto righteousness.” He suffered for us. Now this is part of the calling? Yes, it says so, doesn’t it? “Here unto were ye called because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example.”

Now tell me, what do you make of this theme, this whole theme of Christian suffering? Number 1, it’s not a, a matter of, of, of self-torture and of enjoying the, the pain, you know. That isn’t it. What is the real thrust of that verb ‘to suffer’ when you look at it in verse 21? It’s be-, it’s, it’s found in the little word ‘for’. “He suffered for us, leaving us an example.” And that word ‘for’ is the translation of a little Greek word huper which means ‘up over’, ‘instead of’.

So we’re introduced immediately to the concept of taking your place in a world that may hurt you, for the sake of people who can be brought to your Savior. He suffered for us, He became sin for us, He bore our sins on His body on the tree. You and I face what, what Shakespeare called ‘the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune’. We, we face the hurts of life undeserved though they may be, we face them with the realization that we’re following a divine example which led right to the cross.

“Now brother Cook,” you say, “what do you mean about this matter of, of leading us right to the cross?” Number 1, it brings you to the place where you realize you have no hope except in Jesus. He died for you on the cross and shed His precious blood, and paid your penalty and mine. “God commendedeth His love toward us in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” Same little word – ‘up over’, ‘in our place’. “Laid you to the cross to realize you’ve no hope in anyone except Jesus.”

Second, it leads you to the cross where you, by faith, can take on the burden of somebody else’s spiritual need, and bear him or her or them up to God in prayer. So that in a very real sense you are suffering, you are interceding, you are bearing their burden, before God. This is what Paul meant when he said, “Bear ye one another’s burdens and so fulfill the law of Christ.” What’s the law of Christ? Get under another person’s burden and bring him to God.

I have to say, most of us know very little about that. I’ve met some people who made real progress in their lives in praying for others. They would intercede for them. I’ve told you about my friend Jim Mercer who prayed for me with such great earnestness that the, the, the whole place seemed to shake with the trembling of his body as he, as he prayed for his friend, Bob Cook. And that was a turning point in my life, I assure you, in a number of ways.

Intercession — it’ll lead us right to the cross we take on ourselves the burden, and the need, and the heartbreak, and the lost-ness of other people; and we bring it to God. We’ll talk a little more about this subject when we get back together again. I just plead with you my friend, learn to intercede for others. It will do something to your own life. It will bring you closer to God than you’ve ever been before.

Dear Father, teach us how to intercede for others as we stand in the shadow of the cross. In Jesus name. Amen.

Till I meet you once again by way of radio, walk with the King today and be a blessing!

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