How to Entrust Your Soul to a Faithful Creator While Doing Good

1 Peter 4:19

I’ve been thinking about why Peter used the term “faithful creator” in this verse:

“Therefore let those who suffer according to God’s will entrust their souls to a faithful creator while doing good.” (ESV)

So why “faithful creator”? I think it might have to do with this earlier statement from 1 Peter 2:13-14:

“Be subject for the Lord’s sake to every human institution, whether it be to the emperor as supreme, or to governors as sent by him to punish those who do evil and praise those who do good.” (ESV)

Human Institutions

That word “institution” is the Greek word that also means “creation.” Peter uses it here to refer the Roman government.

Throughout the letter, Peter addresses the problem of the government punishing good behavior. He warns the believers that they may suffer for their faith. The emperor that Peter was referring to in 1 Peter 2:13 was the man who, according to tradition, would be responsible for Peter’s execution.

The government was turning against the church. It was beginning to punish people for obeying God.

The Roman government wasn’t set up to for the purpose of hindering the truth. It didn’t set out to punish good behavior. Most governments don’t. Most governments are put in place–or “created”–with good intentions. The source of corruption is the humans who run them.

Faithless Creators

Human beings don’t live up to their own ideals.

This often leads to the following complaint:

_________________ hasn’t failed, it’s never been tried.

Fill in the blank with your favorite “ism” or system, and this statement has likely been made. And it’s likely true in a sense.

Humans are faithless creators. They corrupt their own governments, spoil their own utopias, and get kicked out of their own Edens.

Peter’s Answer

“Be subject for the Lord’s sake…” said Peter.

The Lord is faithful to his creation. He is committed to it. He can be trusted. Every human creation is part of God’s creation, and God is the only true Creator in the highest sense of the word. He can be trusted to judge righteously.

Peter’s approach to government, then, is to be short-term cynical, long-term idealistic. Cynical because of sin, idealistic because of redemption.

Be Short-Term Cynical

Never be committed to a system for the system’s sake. Remember that all ideologies are human creations. They can’t be implemented perfectly, so there will always be people who say they’ve “never been tried.”

And even if they could be implemented, they wouldn’t deliver on their promises.

If you are fortunate enough to choose the system of government you live under, choose the worst one in the world except for all the others. (To paraphrase Winston Churchill.)

Systems of government are only as corruptible as human nature–which is to say, very corruptible. Never be surprised at what they are capable of.

Be Long-Term Idealistic

Twice in 1 Peter, the apostle calls the recipients of the letter “exiles.” He also calls them “sojourners” (1 Peter 1:1, 2:11). He reminds them that they are waiting for a “salvation ready to be revealed at the last time” (1 Peter 1:5, ESV).

We too are sojourners waiting for the full revelation of our salvation. We are already citizens of the ideal government: the kingdom of God. Therefore, we can afford to be idealistic.

We can suffer injustice, knowing that God sees all and uses all for His redemptive purposes. In this, we have the example of Jesus:

“When he was reviled, He did not revile in return; when he suffered, He did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly.” (1 Peter 2:23, ESV)

Don’t Be Fatalistic

This does not mean you shouldn’t fight to correct injustice or to improve systems of government.

By all means, do this. But never lose sight of the redemptive, eternal value of your efforts.

Peter leaves room for all of these efforts in 1 Peter 4:19, putting them under the broad category “doing good”:

“Therefore let those who suffer according to God’s will entrust their souls to a faithful creator while doing good.” (ESV)

Reforming government wasn’t the good that Peter had in mind when he wrote that. It wasn’t an option for him. Nevertheless, He had the wisdom to leave the category broad. This gives us the opportunity, and the responsibility, to find out how we can best “do good” in the world we are passing through.