Good Stewards of God's Grace
4 1 Since Jesus went through everything you're going through and more, learn to think like him. Think of your sufferings as a weaning from that old sinful habit of always expecting to get your own way. 2 Then you'll be able to live out your days free to pursue what God wants instead of being tyrannized by what you want. 3 You've already put in your time in that God-ignorant way of life, partying night after night, a drunken and profligate life. Now it's time to be done with it for good.
4 Of course, your old friends don't understand why you don't join in with the old gang anymore. But you don't have to give an account to them. 5 They're the ones who will be called on the carpet - and before God himself. 6 Listen to the Message. It was preached to those believers who are now dead, and yet even though they died (just as all people must), they will still get in on the life that God has given in Jesus.
7 Everything in the world is about to be wrapped up, so take nothing for granted. Stay wide-awake in prayer. 8 Most of all, love each other as if your life depended on it. Love makes up for practically anything. 9 Be quick to give a meal to the hungry, a bed to the homeless - cheerfully. 10 Be generous with the different things God gave you, passing them around so all get in on it: 11 if words, let it be God's words; if help, let it be God's hearty help. That way, God's bright presence will be evident in everything through Jesus, and he'll get all the credit as the One mighty in everything - encores to the end of time. Oh, yes!
Suffering as a Christian
12 Friends, when life gets really difficult, don't jump to the conclusion that God isn't on the job. 13 Instead, be glad that you are in the very thick of what Christ experienced. This is a spiritual refining process, with glory just around the corner. 14 If you're abused because of Christ, count yourself fortunate. It's the Spirit of God and his glory in you that brought you to the notice of others. 15 If they're on you because you broke the law or disturbed the peace, that's a different matter. 16 But if it's because you're a Christian, don't give it a second thought. Be proud of the distinguished status reflected in that name! 17 It's judgment time for Christians. We're first in line. If it starts with us, think what it's going to be like for those who refuse God's Message! 18 If good people barely make it, What's in store for the bad? 19 So if you find life difficult because you're doing what God said, take it in stride. Trust him. He knows what he's doing, and he'll keep on doing it.