On Monday, we learned that our persecutors will get theirs … but we also discovered that we are to joyfully suffer through persecutions so that Jesus can be glorified and the gospel be furthered.
Paul tells the believers in Philipi that they have been granted suffering. This means that they have been shown favor – the verb form of the noun “grace”. We find that we have the privilege of suffering as a favor from God. Does that sound like a good deal to you?
For it has been granted to you that for the sake of Christ you should not only believe in him but also suffer for his sake, 30 engaged in the same conflict that you saw I had and now hear that I still have. Phil 1:29-30 (ESV)
Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted. 2 Tim 3:12 (ESV)
I will memorize the passage from 2 Timothy as a help when I go through trials!
Are you currently suffering through a trial? Do you think life is unfair? I am going through a few things right now that don’t seem particularly fair, suffering at the mouths of those who call themselves Christians. When I look at these verses, I think of two things:
1. God promises me suffering as a believer, so there is nothing abnormal about what I am experiencing, and
2. There have been times when I have been at the giving end of persecution. I am reminded of that whole flaming fire passage and have to admit that I need to work on not causing fellow believers suffering, too!
Can you come to similar conclusions? Are you (or have you been) both the persecutor and the persecuted?
Let’s pause for a day or two and think about the times that we have felt persecuted by others. Then think of the times that you’ve been the instigator of the persecution. Are there instances you honestly need to ask forgiveness for? We learned that we need to stop and ask for forgiveness and to give forgiveness in previous studies. Before we go on, let’s take some time for a self-assessment, and I will see you next week (no lesson on Friday as I believe that we should reflect on this week’s verses and engage in some serious navel-gazing).