For it has been granted to you on behalf of Christ not only to believe in him, but also to suffer for him,
since you are going through the same struggle you saw I had, and now hear that I still have.
Nobody wants to suffer. Nobody enjoys suffering. Yet suffering is the greatest expression of love and commitment. When you really love, you are willing to suffer for the ones you love. For God so loved the world that He died for it according to John 3:16. Love at its best is a love that is willing to suffer for loved ones. Parents suffer for the welfare of children. Love stories like Romeo and Juliet have suffering and death as expressions of ultimate love. Suffering also shows commitment. Soldiers suffer a lot in the course of duty, but for the love of the nation, they endure suffering. Are you willing to suffer in order to express love and commitment? Are you willing to suffer?
1 Peter 3:17 tells us that it is better to suffer for doing good than for doing wrong. Not all suffering means you are doing good. One could be suffering because they are being punished for wrongdoing. Therefore the recommended suffering is that which is for doing good. Are you willing to suffer for doing good? Are you willing to suffer?
This is not a call for us to go and provoke people and situations to bring us suffering so that we claim to be really expressing love and commitment. This is suffering that is inevitable and not invited suffering. It is foolish to invite suffering. Not all love is worth suffering for. Teenage love affairs are not the stuff worth suffering for. Dating and courtship love affairs are not worth suffering for. If you suffer before marriage you will suffer excessively in marriage. Do not suffer, instead, you should quit that affair with immediate effect. Suffering in marriage as a victim of domestic violence is not the stuff being promoted here. Domestic violence is destructive to the victim and even fatal, in the name of Jesus, do not suffer, run out of that trap, run for your life. Not all suffering should be condoned and commended.
Our text today in Philippians cited above, introduces a suffering motif in Christian life. We have been called upon to believe in Jesus and also to suffer for Him. We believe in Him since that is said to us over and over, but are we willing and ready to suffer for Him? We have been called as believers not only to believe but also to suffer for Him. Are you willing to suffer?
But the Lord said to Ananias, “Go! This man is my chosen instrument to proclaim my name to the Gentiles and their kings and to the people of Israel. (16) I will show him how much he must suffer for my name.”
When God called Apostle Paul, he told Ananias from the beginning that he will suffer many things for the sake of Christ. Paul was clearly told, you are being converted to serve Jesus by preaching faith in Him and suffering for Him. Paul came in knowing He is coming to suffer. Were you aware you came into Christianity and you should be willing and ready to suffer? Are you willing to suffer?
Paul was shown how much he must suffer for Jesus. If you were shown how much you must suffer for Jesus would you stay in this Christian faith? Are you willing to suffer?
strengthening the disciples and encouraging them to remain true to the faith. “We must go through many hardships to enter the kingdom of God,” they said.
Apostles told believers of the early church in plain language that suffering is part and parcel of the faith. Has your church and preachers informed you that you are expected to suffer? When we are promised that because we are in Jesus, we will never suffer are we being told the truth? Apostles told believers that we all must suffer because of this faith. By the time we enter God’s kingdom, we will have suffered. Are you willing to suffer?
Someone who is willing to suffer is unstoppable. A terrorist who is willing to die is dangerous because they can’t be threatened with death. If Christians knew and were willing to die, they would be unstoppable and totally reliable. The fear of suffering is why some believers compromise the faith. If only they were willing to die, they would be unforgettable and unstoppable. I rather suffer job loss, life loss, and any other loss than engage in corruption at work. Think of such workers? Wouldn’t that be awesome? The willingness to suffer would greatly bolster the faith and the believer. Are you willing to suffer?
2 Corinthians 6:4
Rather, as servants of God we commend ourselves in every way: in great endurance; in troubles, hardships and distresses;
2 Corinthians 6:5
in beatings, imprisonments and riots; in hard work, sleepless nights and hunger;
2 Corinthians 6:8
through glory and dishonor, bad report and good report; genuine, yet regarded as impostors;
2 Corinthians 6:9
known, yet regarded as unknown; dying, and yet we live on; beaten, and yet not killed;
2 Corinthians 6:10
sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; poor, yet making many rich; having nothing, and yet possessing everything.
Apostle Paul tells the Corinthian church that what commends us to the whole world is our willingness to suffer. When we do not give up or change our minds because we are suffering, we are proven to be genuine. He lists several misfortunes and pains that a believer may experience as a result of their faith. Paul encourages believers to be willing to suffer all these things for the sake of their love and commitment to Jesus. Are you willing to suffer?
Commend yourself by suffering for refusing to do wrong and remaining steadfast on the right. Commend yourself by missing business opportunities because you are faithful. Commend yourself by suffering injustice at work because you can’t compromise. Commend yourself by losing a potential marriage partner because you reject premarital sex. Commend yourself by suffering failure in school because you couldn’t cheat or exchange sex for grades. Commend yourself by rejecting jobs and promotions that call for sexual favors to those involved. Commend yourself by keeping the Sabbath at the expense of pleasure or anything else that is valuable that would benefit you but call you to break the Sabbath. Commend yourself by suffering to show Jesus love and commitment. Are you willing to suffer?
2 Timothy 1:8
So do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord or of me his prisoner. Rather, join with me in suffering for the gospel, by the power of God.
2 Timothy 2:3
Join with me in suffering, like a good soldier of Christ Jesus.
Paul tells Timothy and all of us, join me in suffering for the gospel. Suffering for the good news. Suffering because you are a good soldier. A good soldier would be tortured to death and he/she will not betray his country. A good soldier for Christ would rather suffer than betray Jesus. Are you a good soldier? Are you willing to suffer?
2 Timothy 2:8-10
Remember Jesus Christ, raised from the dead, descended from David. This is my gospel, (9) for which I am suffering even to the point of being chained like a criminal. But God’s word is not chained. (10) Therefore I endure everything for the sake of the elect, that they too may obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus, with eternal glory.
Apostle Paul is very clear on what he is suffering for, the gospel. What are you suffering for? What are you willing to suffer? If you are suffering for poor management of money, you are not suffering for Jesus. If you are suffering for poor health habits, you are not suffering for Jesus. If you are suffering for incompetence, you are not suffering for Jesus. Paul is very clear on what he is suffering for and he spells it out. How are your suffering and mine related to the gospel and Jesus? The only commendable suffering is suffering as love and commitment to Jesus. Are you willing to suffer?
2 Timothy 4:5
But you, keep your head in all situations, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, discharge all the duties of your ministry.
The willingness to suffer will keep our heads in all situations. We will not be moved, intimidated, threatened, or cowed. The willingness to suffer will facilitate our evangelistic ministry. Our willingness to suffer will make all ministries possible and effective. Are you willing to suffer so that your ministry can be effective and above board? Are you willing to suffer?
Suffering for Jesus is not something that may happen or could happen, it must happen all the time. If you are really faithful, even religious people and their leaders of your own faith will lead the team of those who bring you suffering. Before suffering emanates from outside your faith, it will begin from those who share the same faith with you but are hypocrites and unlike you, they are not willing to suffer. When the church and its leaders cause you suffering, the church is not wrong, it is the wrong people that are in the church, therefore do not abandon faith, instead, be willing to suffer. Are you willing to suffer?
The ability to endure suffering is God-given. If you trust God, He will grant you the ability to endure suffering. Since we must suffer, may we be faithful even in suffering. May our suffering commend us before God and men. May we be willing to suffer, in Jesus’ name, Amen!
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