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First Peter
Chapter 4
verses 12-19
King James Version

12 Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you,
as though some strange thing happened unto you:
13 But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ's sufferings; that,
when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy.
14 If ye be reproached for the name of Christ, happy are ye; for the spirit of
glory and of God resteth upon you: on their part he is evil spoken of, but on
your part he is glorified.
15 But let none of you suffer as a murderer, or as a thief, or as an evildoer,
or as a busybody in other men's matters.
16 Yet if any man suffer as a Christian, let him not be ashamed; but let him
glorify God on this behalf.
17 For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God: and
if it first begin at us, what shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel
of God?
18 And if the righteous scarcely be saved, where shall the ungodly and the
sinner appear?
19 Wherefore let them that suffer according to the will of God commit the
keeping of their souls to him in well doing, as unto a faithful Creator.

Ross’ Updated Version

12) Beloved, do not think it strange about the fiery trial which is going to try
you, as though some strange thing happened to you.
13) But rejoice since you are partaker’s of Christ’s sufferings: that, when his
glory shall be re-vealed, you may be glad also with great joy/
14) If you are reproached for the name of Christ, you are happy for the spirit
of glory and of God rests upon you: on their part he is evil spoken of, but on
your part he is glorified.
15) But let none of you suffer as a murderer, or as a thief, or as an evildoer,
or as a busybody in other men’s matters.
16) Yet if any man suffer as a Christian, let him not be ashamed: but let him
glorify God for this reason.
17) For the time has come that judgment must begin at the house of God:
and if it begins first at us; what shall the end be of those who obey not the
gospel of God?
18) And if the righteous are scarcely saved, where shall the ungodly and the
sinner be?
19) Therefore let them that suffer according to the will of God commit the
keeping of their souls to him in well doing, as unto a faithful Creator.

There is nothing strange or different about Christians suffering persecution.

“Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness' sake: for theirs is
the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and
persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my
sake.  Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven:
for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.” (KJV –
Matthew 5:10-12)

“Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.
(KJV – 2 Timothy 3:12)

Rejoice that you are counted worthy to suffer even as Jesus suffered, not
for evil but for doing good. Know that when Jesus returns in his glory, and
you stand before the judgment bar, you will be able to rejoice. If you are
persecuted for doing and believing what Jesus taught – you are happy,
because you are doing what is right to the glory of God and of his Christ.
Those who are persecuting you may speak evil of you, what you believe, God
and Christ, but you through your sufferings and conduct speak fluently the
praises of God through Jesus Christ.

However, make sure that your actions are good and not evil. Do not kill a
man. Do not steal (borrow without asking permission). Do not transgress the
law of God in any manner. Do not stick your nose in other people’s business.
But if you suffer as a follower of Christ, a disciple of Christ, as a Christian –
you have nothing to be ashamed of. Christian is the new name Isaiah
prophesied of (Isaiah 62:12) – a name to glorify God through Jesus Christ. It
is the name of those who belong to Christ – who are Christ-like. If you,
therefore, are like Christ – you can hold your head up high and stand
upright before God.

J.W. McGarvey in his Original Commentary on Acts said: “If the New
Testament furnishes any names for the people of God, its authority in
reference to their use is not less imperative than in reference to any other
use of language. We can have no more right, in this case, to substitute
other names for them, or to add others to them, than do the same in
reference to the names of the apostles, of the Holy Spirit, or of Christ.

“Religious names are significant. They not only distinguish the bodies to
which they belong, as do modern names of individuals, but they distinguish
them by a condensed description of their peculiarities. All the peculiarities
of a religious denomination are expressed by the denominational name in its
current import. Hence, to call a Baptist by the name Methodist would be
worse than to call Smith by the name of Jones; for, besides miscalling him,
it would be misrepresenting his religious principles. It is true, that, in thus
miscalling the Baptist, you have not changed him into a Methodist, for he
remains the same by whatever name you call him. Still, you have miscalled
him and done him injustice. Truth and justice, therefore, require us to use
religious names with reference to their significance.

“If denominational names are significant, those originally applied to the body
of Christ are not less so. They distinquish the people of God by designating
some of their peculiarities. These peculiarities were found either in the
relations which they sustained, or in the character which they exhibited to
the world. The first relation which attracted the attention of the world, as
they followed Jesus from place to place, was that of teacher and pupils. This
suggested the name disciples, or learners, by which they were first
designated, and which is the most common designation in the gospel nar-
ratives. From the fact that there were disciples of John, with whom they
might be confounded, they were, at first, styled ‘disciples of Jesus.” But
when John had decreased, and Jesus had increased, the limiting words
were dispensed with, and the term disciples was appropriated, so that,
standing along, it always meant a disciple of Jesus. In the four gospels the
limiting words are commonly employed; but in Acts, where Luke is giving
some of their history as a great people spreading through the earth, after
once calling them ‘disciples of the Lord,’ at the time Saul starts after them to
Damascus, he drops the limiting words, and then, throughout the whole
narrative he calls them simply the ‘disciples.’

“When the disciples assumed a new relation to their teacher, it necessarily
brought them into a new relation to one another. From the nation of the
moral lessons which they were learning, and which they were required to
put into immediate practice, this relation became very intimate and very
affectionate. It gave rise to their designation as ‘the brethren.’ They were so
styled first by Jesus, saying to them: ‘Be not called Rabbi; for one is your
teacher, and all you are brethren.’ (Matt. xxiii.8) This term, however, as a
distinctive appellation of the whole body, is used only once in the gospel
narratives, where John says of the report that he would not die: ‘This saying
went abroad among the brethren.’ (John xxi.23) In Acts it frequently occurs
in this sense; but still more frequently in the Epistles. The latter being
addressed to the brethren, and treating of their mutual obligations, this term
not naturally takes precedence in them, and the term disciple, which is used
in speaking of a brother rather than to him, is as naturally omitted. This
accounts for the fact that the latter term is not once found in the Epistles.

“This increasingly currency of the term brethren in the later apostolic age is
intimately associated with the introduction of another name which came
into use in the same period. Jesus frequently called the disciples his own
brethren, and taught them, in praying, to say ‘Our Father, who art in
heaven;’ but the title, ‘children of God,’ which grew out of the relation thus
indicated, was not applied to them during this early period. It is not so
applied in any of the gospels but John’s, and in this only in two instances,
where it is evident that he is using the phraseology of the time in which he
writes rather than of the period of which he writes. (John i:12; xi.52) This
appellation, as a current and contemporaneous title, is found only in the
Epistles, being brought into use after the disciples had obtained more
exalted conceptions of the blessed privileges and high honors which God
had conferred upon them. It extorted an admiring comment from John, in his
old age: ‘Behold, what manner of love the Father has bestowed upon us,
that we should be called the sons of God!’ (I John iii.1)

“By this time the disciples exhibited to the world a well-defined character. It
was such as identified them with those who, in the Old Testament, were
called saints, and this suggested the use of this term as one of their
appellations. The persecutions which they were enduring still further
identified them with the holy ‘prophets who were before them.’ This name
occurs first on the lips of Ananias when he objected to approaching Saul of
Tarsus. He says to the Lord, ‘I have heard by many of this man, how much
evil he has done to thy saints in Jerusalem.’ In the Epistles tis name is used
more frequently than any other.

“All of the names we have now considered are well adapted to their specific
purposes; but all of them presuppose some knowledge of the people whom
they are intended to distinguish. An entire stranger would not at first know
who was meant by the disciples, or the brethren; but would ask, Disciples of
whom? Brethren of whom? Nor would he know who were the children of
God, or the saints, until you had informed him to what certain characters
these terms apply. There was need, therefore, of a man less ambiguous to
those who had the least information on the subject – one better adapted to
the great world. This, like all the others, originated from circumstances
which demanded it for immediate use. When a Church was established in
Antioch, it became an object of inquiry to strangers, brought thither by the
pursuits of commerce, from all parts of the world. They were strangers to
the cause of Christ in reference to all but the wonderful career of its
founder. The whole world had heard something of Christ, as the remarkable
personage who was put to death under Pontius Pilate, though many had
heard nothing of the early history of his Church. From this fact, when
strangers came to Antioch, and heard the new party who were attracting so
much attention there, called Christians, they at once recognized them as
followers of that Christ of whom they had already heard. This explains the
fact stated in the text that ‘the disciples were called Christians first in
Antioch.’ The fact that Luke here adopts it, and that both Paul and Peter
afterward recognized it, gives it all the validity of inspired usage, and
therefore, all the weight of divine authority. That it is a New Testament
name is undisputed, and this renders its divine authority indisputable.

“This name, whether given by divine or by human authority, was not
designed as an exclusive appellation, seeing that the others were continued
in use after its introduction. It merely took its proper place among the other
names, to answer its own special purpose.

“To sum up the facts now adduced, the New Testament usage in reference
to names is this: When the followers of Jesus were contemplated with
reference to their relation to him as their great teacher, they were called
disciples. When the mind of the speaker was fixed more particularly on their
relation to one another, they were styled brethren. When their relation to
God was in the fore-ground, they were called children of God. When they
were designated with special reference to character, they were called
saints. But when they were spoken of with the most general reference to
their great leader, they were called Christians. A practical observance of the
exact force of each of these name would soon conform our speech to the
primitive model, and would check the tendency to exalt one name above
another, by giving to each its proper place.

“The names now enumerated are all that are furnished by the New
Testament. We have assumed above that it would be subversive of divine
authority for the disciples to adopt any other  names. The truth of this
assumption is demonstrated by the rebuke which Paul administers to the
Corinthians for this very sin. He says to them: ‘It has been declared to me,
my brethren, by them who are of the household of Chloe, that there are
contentions among you. Now this I say, that each of you says, I am of Paul,
and I of Apollos, and I of Cephas, and I of Christ. Is Christ divided? Was Paul
crucified for you? Or were you immersed into the name of Paul?’ (1 Cor. i.11-
13) Now, if it was sinful for these brethren to assume the names of men, how
can it be innocent in us to do the very same thing? This question demands
the most solemn and trembling consideration of this generation.

“It is no extenuation of this fault to urge that the divisions which now exit
are of a different character from those in Corinth; for the difference is
entirely in their favor. They had not gone so far as to divide the Church into
separate organizations, but had merely formed parties within it, like the par-
ties of the present day, which sometimes exist within a single denomination.
The sin of today is, therefore, much greater than theirs.

“It is equally vain to excuse our sin, by urging that the party names now
worn are necessary, in order to distinguish the parties from one another. If
the existence of the parties themselves were authorized by the Scriptures,
this excuse would be valid; for we could not censure ourselves for the
unavoidable results of that which is itself right. But the existence of party
divisions constitutes the chief crime in the case, and leads to the sin of
party names, as stealing leads to lying. The thief must inevitably lie, or
acknowledge his theft; so the partisan must either cling to his party name,
or give up his party. The name, in the mean time, is a necessary evil, but,
being self-imposed, it is none the less evil from being necessary.

“Not to multiply words upon this point, it is sufficiently evident, from the
above considerations, that parties and party names among Christians should
be obliterated. If we say that it is impossible to obliterate them, we are
simply saying that it is impossible to bring Christians back to the New Tes-
tament model – for, in the New Testament period, there were no such
divisions, and therefore a restoration of that state of the Church would be
the destruction of the parties and party names. If this is impossible, it can
only be from one cause, and that is, that men professing to take the word of
God as their guide are so hypocritical in this profession, that they will, at all
hazard, persevere in despising its authority in reference to a prominent item
of duty. How shameful it is, that men will uphold parties and party names,
which they know perfectly that a strict conformity to the New Testament
would utterly destroy! There is only one means of escape from this crying
sin. Those who love God must break loose at once, as individuals, from the
bondage of party, and take a position where they may be upholders of no
party, and wearers of no party name. All who act thus will find themselves
planted together on the plain letter of the Scriptures, as their only rule of
faith and practice.

“In addition to the observations already submitted on this topic, we remark
that every significant name which a man wears imposes some obligation
upon him, and appeals to him to incessantly, though silently, to discharge
this obligation faithfully. Does a man in a foreign county declare him-self an  
American, he realizes that there is a peculiar demeanor required by the fact,
and feels constantly called upon to act worthy of the name he wears. Even a
man’s patronymic, which means no more than that he belongs to a certain
family, is forever warning him not to disgrace the name of his father. So it
must be with all religious names.

“Is a man called a disciple of Jesus? He remembers that it is the part of a
disciple to learn what his teacher imparts, and to imitate his example.
Whenever he is reminded that this is his name, he feels the necessity of
studying the teachings of Jesus, and walking in his footsteps. Whenever he
finds himself neglecting these duties, his very name rebukes him. This
thought was not overlooked by the great Teacher himself. He says to those
Jews who believed on him, ‘If you continue in my word, you are truly my
disciples, and you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.’
(John viii:31,32) Again he says, ‘It is enough for the disciple to be as his
teacher;’ and ‘whoever does not bear his cross and come after me, can not
be my disciple.’ (Matt. xi:24; Luke siv:27) Thus he gives emphasis to that
exhortation which the name itself is constantly sounding in the ear of the
conscience.

“But the disciple is also one of the brethren – a brother to the Lord Jesus,
who is the oldest brother of a large family. This name is full of affection and
sympathy, I can not meet a man and call him brother, without some thought
of the fraternal sympathy which should exist between us. If, when my heart
is poisoned by unkind feelings toward a disciple, he meets me and calls me
brother, I feel reproached by the word, and am choked in the attempt to
pronounce it in return. It will never let me forget the law of love. Its
influence is recognized by Peter, who says, ‘Seeing you have purified your
souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit unto unfeigned love of the
brethren, see that you love one another with a pure heart fervently.’ (1
Peter i.23)

“There is another obligation involved in this name, arising from the fact that
the brothers in one family stand on an equal footing in reference to
authority, no one having supremacy over the others, but all subject to the
father. Jesus makes use of this fact as the ground of a serious injunction.
‘Be not called Rabbi; for one is your teacher, and all you are brethren; and
call no man on earth your Father, for One who is in heaven is your Father;
neither be called Leaders, for one is your Leader, the Christ.’ (Matt. xxiii:
8,10) The fact that we are brethren is thus made to bear directly against
that thirsting for titles of distinction, and for rank and authority in the
Church of Christ, which is invariably the offspring of an unholy ambition.
The modern Leaders of sects – the ghostly Fathers of mystic Babylon, and
the swelling titles by which Doctors of Divinity, and the Reverend and Right
Reverend Bishops and ArchBishops of the present age are distinguished,
exhibit the most flagrant contempt for this solemn commandment of the
Lord. A man who understands the meaning of the fact that he is one among
many brethren, is guarded, by the humility of this title, from participation in
a sin like this.

”If such are the obligations implied I the names disciple and brethren¸ what
shall we say of that more exalted title, children of God? It originates from a
supposed likeness between them and their Father. We are commanded to
love our enemies, to bless them who curse us, to do good to them who hate
us, and to pray for them who persecute us, that we may be children of our
Father who is in heaven. (Matt. v:44,45) Thus the very highest moral
obligations imposed in the word of God must ever press upon the soul of him
who wears this title, inciting him to become a partaker of the divine nature.

“When, in addition to these appellations, you call a man a saint, you thrust
him as a companion into the midst of all the holy men of old, and make him
struggle to be like them. So palpable is the force of this name, that the mass
of professed Christians have long since ceased to wear it. When men
apostatized from what its meaning indicates, it hung so heavily upon the
conscience, that it become like a coal of fire on their heads, and they found
relief in throwing it off from themselves and appropriating it to a few of the
worthy dead. If we would ever come back from the long aposta-sy of ages,
we must learn to wear the name saint, and walk worthy of the company with
which it identifies us. The term saint means a holy one, and Peter exhorts,
‘As he who called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of behavior;
because it is written, Be ye holy for I am holy.’ (1 Peter 1:15,16)

“The name Christian embodies within itself, in a more generic form, all the
obligations specifically expressed by the other names. Being derived from
the name of him who is ‘head over all thing for the Church,’ whose name is
above every name, it is a title of peculiar honor and glory. It calls upon the
man who wears it to act a part in consonance with the historic memories
which cluster around it, and encourages him with the reflection that he
wears a high dignity even when despised and spit upon by the powers of the
earth. So thought Peter, when this name was most despised. He says, ‘If any
man suffer as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God on
this account.’ ‘If you are reproached for the name of Christ, happy are you;
for the spirit of glory and of God rests upon you.’ (1 Peter iv.14-16)

“When the servant of Christ remembers that all these names belong to him;
that, because he is supposed to be learning of Christ, he is called a disciple;
because he is one of the happy and loving family of equals, they call him
brother; because the Father of that family, whose character he strives to
imitate, is God himself, he is called a child of God; that, because he is
presumed to be holy, he is called a saint; and that, for all these reasons, he
wears the name of him who by his mediation and intercession enables him
to be all that he is, how powerful the incentive to every virtue, constantly
yet silently pressing upon his conscience, and how stern the rebuke to
every vice!

“When we turn from this deep and holy philosophy of scriptural names to
consider the import of mere partisan badges, how heartless they all appear!
The constant and only influence of party names is to intensify mere partisan
feelings. The man who wears the name Methodist feels called upon by the
fact to simply act like a Methodist; and when that name is appealed to among
those who honor it, it is only to exhort one another to diligence in that
which is peculiarly expected of a mere Methodist. So with all other party
names. There is nothing in any of them to excite the longings of a sin-sick
soul, and hence they are never appealed to when sinners are exhorted to
repent. On the contrary, the most zealous partisans are often heard to
assure sinners, ‘Our object is not to make Presbyterians of you, or
Methodists, or Baptists; but we want you to become Christians.’ How strange
it is that men will pertinaciously cling to names which they are thus
ashamed of in the presence of penitent sinners, when there are others at
hand given by God himself, full of honor to the wearer, and of attraction to
all who seek salvation!” (pp. 145-151)

The time had come for the nation of Israel that judgment would come. It
would begin with God’s people. In particular, Israel would face the
destruction of Jerusalem and the cessation of their religion. No longer would
there be a high priest. No longer would there be the sacrifices for sin and
trespasses. No longer would there be the sin offering. No longer would there
be the temple. Everything that made the Jews the Jews would be different.
Without the genealogies in the temple they would not even be able to tell
what tribe they were a part of. The destruction of Jerusalem would be
complete and final. Not one brick would be left upon another.

Jesus foretold of this destruction. “Wherefore, behold, I send unto you
prophets, and wise men, and scribes: and some of them ye shall kill and
crucify; and some of them shall ye scourge in your synagogues, and
persecute them from city to city: That upon you may come all the righteous
blood shed upon the earth, from the blood of righteous Abel unto the blood
of Zacharias son of Barachias, whom ye slew between the temple and the
altar. Verily I say unto you, All these things shall come upon this generation.
O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them
which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children
together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye
would not! Behold, your house is left unto you desolate. For I say unto you,
Ye shall not see me henceforth, till ye shall say, Blessed is he that cometh in
the name of the Lord.

“24:1 And Jesus went out, and departed from the temple: and his disciples
came to him for to shew him the buildings of the temple. And Jesus said
unto them, See ye not all these things? verily I say unto you, There shall not
be left here one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down. And as
he sat upon the mount of Olives, the disciples came unto him privately,
saying, Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of
thy coming, and of the end of the world? And Jesus answered and said unto
them, Take heed that no man deceive you. For many shall come in my name,
saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many. And ye shall hear of wars and
rumours of wars: see that ye be not troubled: for all these things must come
to pass, but the end is not yet. For nation shall rise against nation, and
kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and
earthquakes, in divers places. All these are the beginning of sorrows. Then
shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you: and ye shall be
hated of all nations for my name's sake. And then shall many be offended,
and shall betray one another, and shall hate one another. And many false
prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many. And because iniquity shall
abound, the love of many shall wax cold. But he that shall endure unto the
end, the same shall be saved. And this gospel of the kingdom shall be
preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the
end come. When ye therefore shall see the abomination of desolation,
spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place, (whoso readeth, let
him understand:) Then let them which be in Judaea flee into the mountains:
Let him which is on the housetop not come down to take any thing out of his
house: Neither let him which is in the field return back to take his clothes.
And woe unto them that are with child, and to them that give suck in those
days! But pray ye that your flight be not in the winter, neither on the
sabbath day: For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the
beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be. And except those
days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved: but for the elect's
sake those days shall be shortened. Then if any man shall say unto you, Lo,
here is Christ, or there; believe it not. For there shall arise false Christs, and
false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it
were possible, they shall deceive the very elect. Behold, I have told you
before. Wherefore if they shall say unto you, Behold, he is in the desert; go
not forth: behold, he is in the secret chambers; believe it not. For as the
lightning cometh out of the east, and shineth even unto the west; so shall
also the coming of the Son of man be. For wheresoever the carcase is, there
will the eagles be gathered together. Immediately after the tribulation of
those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light,
and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be
shaken: And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and
then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of
man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And he
shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather
together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.  
Now learn a parable of the fig tree; When his branch is yet tender, and
putteth forth leaves, ye know that summer is nigh: So likewise ye, when ye
shall see all these things, know that it is near, even at the doors. Verily I say
unto you, This generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled.
Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away.”  (KJV
– Matthew 23:34-24:35)

The church would also face a time of persecution from the Roman
government. They would be imprisoned. They would be beaten. They would
lose their ability to buy and sell in the marketplace. They would be killed,
whether by crucifixion or in the coliseum as amusement for the Romans
being devoured by wild animals or slain by the gladiators, or otherwise
tortured in every way that can be imagined. All of this because they would
not bow down before a statue of the Emperor and declare him to be “Lord
and God.” They refused, because to do so would be to commit idolatry, and
to deny Christ.

Now, if these things are to face the people who once were the people of God,
and those who now are the people of God, what will happen to those who
have refused the gospel and those who have refused to acknowledge God?
What will happen to those who have not obeyed the gospel?

Notice, it does not say those who have not acknowledge the truth of the
gospel. It does not say those who have prayed. It says those “who obey not
the gospel of God.” Obedience is necessary. If you do not obey there is no
hope.

If the righteous, those who obey the gospel, are barely saved, what about
those whose attitude is in rebellion against God, and who continue to live in
their sin? There can be no doubt about their end.

Therefore, Christians need to keep hold of their faith. They need to grasp it
like a drowning man does a life saver. No matter what the conditions, no
matter what the circumstances, no matter what the difficulties, no matter
what the persecution, do not lose your faith.

“Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen
again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession
for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or
distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is
written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as
sheep for the slaughter. Nay, in all these things we are more than
conquerors through him that loved us. For I am persuaded, that neither
death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present,
nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be
able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
(KJV – Romans 8:34-39)

If you suffer such persecution, commit yourself to God. Place your soul in
his hands. Do what is right regardless of what all others are doing around
you. God is faithful. He is your Creator. He will take care of you.