Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution. (II Timothy 3:12)
For unto you it is given in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for his sake; (Philippians 1:29)
Men will suffer great hardship for a cause they believe in. They will endure almost anything to achieve a goal. Sports fans will go to great lengths to support their team and endure miserable weather to see a game.
I wonder if God’s people are that bent on serving Him? Will you suffer rebuke and ridicule for Christ? Are you willing to give up possessions and friends in order to be true to God? In other word, does God come first?
False teachers are promising wealth and everything you can imagine, if you will give to them and follow their teachings. They are in it for themselves, not you. I am going to tell you the truth, if you truly follow God’s way, you will face opposition. The strange thing is, sometimes we might even suffer at the hands of well meaning Christians.
I. EXAMPLES OF SUFFERING.
- The prophets.
Take, my brethren, the prophets, who have spoken in the name of the Lord, for an example of suffering affliction, and of patience. (James 5:10)
And what shall I more say? for the time would fail me to tell of Gedeon, and of Barak, and of Samson, and of Jephthae; of David also, and Samuel, and of the prophets: Who through faith subdued kingdoms, wrought righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, Quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, waxed valiant in fight, turned to flight the armies of the aliens. Women received their dead raised to life again: and others were tortured, not accepting deliverance; that they might obtain a better resurrection: And others had trial of cruel mockings and scourgings, yea, moreover of bonds and imprisonment: They were stoned, they were sawn asunder, were tempted, were slain with the sword: they wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins; being destitute, afflicted, tormented; (Of whom the world was not worthy:) they wandered in deserts, and in mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth. And these all, having obtained a good report through faith, received not the promise: God having provided some better thing for us, that they without us should not be made perfect. (Hebrews 11:32-40)
And labour, working with our own hands: being reviled, we bless; being persecuted, we suffer it:
(I Corinthians 4:12)
For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps: Who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth: Who, when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered, he threatened not; but committed himself to him that judgeth righteously:
(I Peter 2:21-23)
For ye, brethren, became followers of the churches of God which in Judaea are in Christ Jesus: for ye also have suffered like things of your own countrymen, even as they have of the Jews: (I Thessalonians 2:14)
- We are to follow these examples
For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our consolation also aboundeth by Christ. And whether we be afflicted, it is for your consolation and salvation, which is effectual in the enduring of the same sufferings which we also suffer: or whether we be comforted, it is for your consolation and salvation. And our hope of you is stedfast, knowing, that as ye are partakers of the sufferings, so shall ye be also of the consolation.
(II Corinthians 1:5-7)
Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy. But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust. For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? do not even the publicans the same? And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others? do not even the publicans so? Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.
II. WHY SHOULD WE SUFFER?
- To be worthy of God’s Kingdom.
Which is a manifest token of the righteous judgment of God, that ye may be counted worthy of the kingdom of God, for which ye also suffer: (II Thessalonians 1:5)
(“The servant is not greater then his lord.”)
- For the sake of righteousness.
But and if ye suffer for righteousness’ sake, happy are ye: and be not afraid of their terror, neither be troubled; (I Peter 3:14)
- To please God.
For this is thankworthy, if a man for conscience toward God endure grief, suffering wrongfully. For what glory is it, if, when ye be buffeted for your faults, ye shall take it patiently? but if, when ye do well, and suffer for it, ye take it patiently, this is acceptable with God. (I Peter 2:19-20)
- After all, the time of suffering is short.
But the God of all grace, who hath called us unto his eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that ye have suffered a while, make you perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle you. (I Peter 5:10)
- We should suffer, lest we hinder the Gospel.
If others be partakers of this power over you, are not we rather? Nevertheless we have not used this power; but suffer all things, lest we should hinder the gospel of Christ. (I Corinthians 9:12)
- There is much to be gained by suffering.
And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together. For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us. (Romans 8:17-18)
If we suffer, we shall also reign with him: if we deny him, he also will deny us: (II Timothy 2:12)
III. HOW SHOULD WE SUFFER?
- For the right reasons.
For it is better, if the will of God be so, that ye suffer for well doing, than for evil doing. 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; Yet if any man suffer as a Christian, let him not be ashamed; but let him glorify God on this behalf. 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? And if the righteous scarcely be saved, where shall the ungodly and the sinner appear? 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. (I Peter 3:17; 4:15-19)
- Sometimes we suffer for wrong doing.
- Sometimes we suffer unnecessarily, that is, we bring it on ourselves, depriving ourselves of the things God has for us.
- Sometimes we suffer in the wrong way; we suffer because we do not have the things of this world that we want and in greed, we miss God’s blessings.
- In the right frame of mind.
- With the same attitude that Christ had.
Forasmuch then as Christ hath suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves likewise with the same mind: for he that hath suffered in the flesh hath ceased from sin; (I Peter 4:1)
- Without fear of what will happen to us.
Fear none of those things which thou shalt suffer: behold, the devil shall cast some of you into prison, that ye may be tried; and ye shall have tribulation ten days: be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life. (Revelation 2:10)
- With the same attitude that Christ had.
And they departed from the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for his name. (Acts 5:41)
Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you: 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. (I Peter 4:12-13)
IV. LOVE IS THE KEY.
Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil; Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth; Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things. Charity never faileth: but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away.
(I Corinthians 13:4-8)
- Many times we refuse to suffer and in pride we rebel against suffering.
- For example, if someone tries to ridicule us, we answer them back.
- These kinds of things make our testimony of little effect.
- When our love for God is what it ought to be, we will have a love for the lost that will enable us to endure all things.