1 Peter 4:15 “But let none of you suffer~~ as a murderer or thief or criminal or as a troublemaker.”
There are many types of suffering. Not all suffering has the promise of the Holy Spirit’s relief. Violation of the law results in penalty or prison. Criminals cannot complain about being punished: they just have to take it and hope a life lesson can be learned.
The command in 1 Peter is understandable, yet the addition of the word troublemaker in the list might seem surprising. The term means a “troublesome meddler,” and it is only used here in the New Testament. The comparatively minor term in this list means an “agitator” or “one who meddles in things alien to his calling.”
Paul corrected similar unchristian conduct Thessalonica: “We hear that some among you are leading an undisciplined life, doing no work at all, but acting like busybodies. Now such persons we command and exhort in the Lord Jesus Christ to work in quiet fashion and eat their own bread” (2 Thes 3:11–-12).
Christians are not to be troublemakers or agitators in work or society. We are to pray for kings or authorities and live quiet, peaceful, and dignified lives (1 Tim 2:1–-3). More specifically, we are to be obedient, speak evil of no one, avoid quarreling, and show perfect courtesy toward all people (Titus 3:1–-2). This appears to restrict political activism and civil agitation or illegal activity against a government.
Punishment for this type of activity is not considered biblical persecution, though it may be considered political persecution. Ours is a concern for the gospel awareness, not a perfect government!
Even though accepting the just penalty from the law can result in a life lesson learned and a changed life, if such a person is a known Christian, the harm to the cause of Christ can leave deep scars.
In the mind of unbelievers, discrediting a Christian discredits the gospel, and Christianity becomes merely another religion of hypocrites. On the other hand, when Christians are persecuted merely for being faithful to the word, confronting sinners with their sins (even though done in love), or quietly sharing their faith in a respectful and conversational manner, the result is the opposite.
If a Christian is willing to endure ridicule and persecution for his or her faith, then there must be something genuine to consider. May our lives always provoke the thought in others that our God is real and alive and that He is the cause for our motivation and lifestyle.
“May Your grace in my life keep me from foolish acts or reactions that would bring disgrace to Your name.”