15 “but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect, 16 having a good conscience, so that, when you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame. 17 For it is better to suffer for doing good, if that should be God’s will, than for doing evil” (I Peter 3:15-17).
Peter adds a final encouraging statement in vs. 17. Consider it a New Testament Proverb.
Peter says that it is better (κρείττων; kreitton) or superior in God’s perspective to suffer for doing something God considers good, than to do that which God considers evil. This statement parallels what Peter has already said in I Peter 2:20, and what he will say in I Peter 4:15-16.
Peter wants his readers to understand that whatever we may experience in defending the gospel, even if it is evil, will fit God’s perfect and sovereign will for our lives. When we pray “Thy will be done” (Matthew 6:10) we are consciously submitting to God’s rule and reign in our lives, even if that means suffering for His Name’s sake.
One pastor writes, “Peter pointed out that it may be God’s will (thelēma; cf. 2:15; 4:2, 19) for them (believers) to suffer for doing good (cf. 1:6; 2:15; 4:16, 19). This, as he told them earlier, “is commendable before God” (2:20) and so is better than deserved suffering for doing evil (cf. 2:14). First Peter 3:17 is an effective summary of the content of 2:15, 19–20.”
Suffering for the gospel, not matter how small, can be discomforting. However, let us not forget the great cloud of witnesses who lived before us who testify that suffering for the truth of God is worth it (Hebrews 11:1-12:2). We live now in the wonderful company of those who lived before us and who served the living God. Let us live a legacy that parallels theirs.
Soli deo Gloria!