Who is going to harm you if you are eager to do good?
This verse is a question – a rhetorical question – and the message is clear – nobody is going to harm you if you are eager to do good.
Can you believe in it? I find it hard to. There is a famous Chinese Idiom – It is difficult to be a good person. Why? Precisely because people will harm you even if you do good. People will bully you. People will take advantage of you. In 1 Peter 3 the apostle Peter launches a passionate argument for suffering. Suffering for doing good. In that case, there is an assumption that one would suffer for doing good. Why? Because people are you going to harm you even if you are eager to do good. It is interesting to note how the verse after this begins with a ‘but‘ to place the message of this verse into doubt. But even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed. “Do not fear their threats; do not be frightened.” [1 Peter 3:14] The subsequent verses then proceed to tell us how we should act when people harm us even when we are doing good. The theme of this entire passage, as I see it, is clearly Peter telling us, you will suffer when you do good, but you must bear it. If that’s the case, do you not wonder why this verse exists? Why Peter ever bothered asking this rhetorical question? In today’s study, we will examine the context in this verse and find out the true message behind it.
Who is going to harm you – I think that in order to truly grasp what Peter was trying to say, we must relook at what Peter was referring to when he said who is going to harm you. Did he really mean that nobody is going to harm you? No, I would think not. Men are not bound by such deep-rooted or natural morality and righteousness that they would naturally leave a good person alone. No, the devil tends to tempt whoever he can into stumbling those who are doing good. If they have an ability to, they would cause harm to those who are doing good.
Let us list the possibilities of who could possibly harm us, then. As we’ve said, men, surely. Not all men, but surely some would – some who are blinded by their own interests or desperation and ignored any inklings of righteousness that might be in their hearts. Who else? Satan, certainly. It kills two birds with a stone for him when he successfully harms someone who is eagerly doing good. Firstly, he gets to thwart the glory of God through whatever good that person is doing for the kingdom of God, and secondly, he gets to weaken the faith of the person he harms. And the weakening of faith of a person always leads to a domino effect – the family and friends of that person will be affected as well. Who else? God?
I don’t think so. I most certainly do not think so. God will not harm us even if we are not actively doing good, so why should he harm us when we are eagerly doing good for his glory? God plans to prosper you and not to harm you [Jer 29:11|Article]. Furthermore, The LORD will keep you from all harm– he will watch over your life [Psalm 121:7].
In essence, I would think that when Peter asked who is going to harm you – he meant that nobody significant are able to harm us, because we have God protecting us. Sure, men may try to harm us. Sure, the devil may block our paths. But God is here, and neither men nor the devil can pretend to stand up against God. God will not harm us, for he is here to protect the righteous and avenge the wronged. Christ will not harm us, for he came to save us. The angels of God will not harm us, for they rejoice when we do good. Sin, law, men of the world, the devil – none of these could cause us real harm, none of these can take away our salvation, because God is for those who do good. And who can be against us, when God is for us [Rom 8:31|Article]
And hence there is no excuse for us not to do good. Sure, we will suffer – The apostles had pretty much promised us that – even demonstrating for us with their own examples that in doing good, we suffer. In following God’s commands, we must expect to suffer. But we can bear it, because those who try to harm us will not be able to cause real harm to us. If we must suffer, let it be worth it. If we must suffer, let it be because of doing good and not because of doing evil. For it is better, if it is God’s will, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil [1 Peter 3:17].
God is good, and he will not harm us. While we suffer, we must remember that God is still here, and at the end of the day, victory can only be God’s. So do good.