FEB 11 8am
“For to you it has been granted for Christ’s sake, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake” (Philippians 1:29).
Do you ever experience any suffering for the sake of the cause of Christ?
Some people believe that God sends us suffering, including things like sickness, poverty and tragedy, in order to teach us and to help perfect us. Nothing could be further from the truth. He loves us, and such trials are obviously not love.
Instead, He has provided and wants to teach us by His Living Word through the Spirit of Truth. We have an enemy of our souls who wants to oppress God’s children. But, when he does, “…we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose” (Romans 8:28).
The suffering that Paul experienced, and that we all will experience from time to time, if we take the Word seriously, is persecution. “Yes, and ALL who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution” (2 Timothy 3:12).
Persecution doesn’t have to be a big deal or life threatening and can be as simple as rejection. If we never suffer any persecution, we should ask ourselves whether we are really among the ALL who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus. Or are we trying to live in a way that is acceptable to the world despite our convictions?
We see another aspect of suffering for the cause of Christ in 1 Peter 5:10: “But may the God of all grace, who called us to His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after you have suffered a while, perfect, establish, strengthen, and settle you.”
This kind of suffering isn’t from the Lord either. Peter’s prayer for His readers here is just after the following admonishment: “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. Resist him, steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same sufferings are experienced by your brethren throughout the world (Vs. 8-9).
We resist the devil in faith to overcome the suffering he tries to bring on all believers. We resist his lies, his accusations, the temptations to the flesh. Sometimes that letting go of fleshly desires can be seen by some as a form of suffering. And, look at the results of resisting the enemy in faith: God “is able to perfect, establish, strengthen, and settle you” (Vs. 10).
Also, the flesh loves to be right – to do its own thing. The yielding and surrender that we do by faith, to allow Christ and His grace to work in our lives, can very much be perceived as a form of suffering. The pride of the flesh wants to be its own savior and doesn’t like to admit weakness so the Lord’s strength can shine through:
“And He said to me, My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness. Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me” (2 Corinthians 12:9).
So, if we never experience suffering for His sake, we may not be trying to follow Him, are not resisting the devil, or have become complacent and given up on standing against temptation, living life in our own strength. Paul tells us to “Examine yourselves, seeing whether you are in the faith…” (2 Corinthians 13:5).
God’s Word is true, and He is faithful, and He is in you by the Holy Spirit. “…For He Himself has said, I will never leave you nor forsake you” (Hebrews 13:5). So, don’t be afraid to let go and let God through prayer, faith, surrender, so the power of Christ will rest upon you, the recipe for victorious living.