A PASSION FOR SUFFERING
Matthew 5:11; Various
Date: Thursday, July 23, 2020
Good evening and welcome to BCCC and our nightly devotional study.
Last night we talked about being persecuted for doing the right thing or righteousness. In the final blessing of the Beatitudes, Jesus takes it one step further. He says, “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me” (Mt 5:11). First, he broadens the scope of trouble all the way from simple insults to full out religious attack. Second, He takes it from just doing the right thing to saying, “because of me.” Jesus ties righteousness to believing in him as the Savior, the Son of God, the Christ.
He also goes on to clarify the blessing which is something he hasn’t done in any of the other blessings. He says in Matthew 5:12 - “Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.” Your reward in heaven is great. In other places in the Bible it shares these rewards: crown, new name, white robe, sharing his throne, etc. All these rewards all have to do with eternal fellowship. You are the prized possession of the Lord!
So how should we face this suffering knowing that Jesus is blessing us through it? We should be glad! We should rejoice, praise God, and sing. It reminds me of when the Apostles were beaten and told by the Sanhedrin not to teach about Jesus anymore. Acts 5:41 says, “The apostles left the Sanhedrin, rejoicing because they had been counted worthy of suffering disgrace for the Name.”
It reminds me of Paul and Silas who had been beaten, thrown into prison, and shackled. They proclaimed praises to God and were singing… yes, singing! I often wonder what I would have done in their case… probably crying quietly in a corner. But they were rejoining in this account in Acts 16:16-40 and because of their faith, the jailer, his family, and others became believers in Jesus Christ. What a blessing!
Peter wrote about suffering from the perspective of a man who was changed by Jesus and being persecuted for following him. He wrote, “Therefore, since Christ suffered in his body, arm yourselves also with the same attitude, because whoever suffers in the body is done with sin. As a result, they do not live the rest of their earthly lives for evil human desires, but rather for the will of God” (1 Pe 4:1-2). The Greek word interpreted as suffering is πάσχω - paschó (pas’-kho) from which we get our word “passion”. It is a painful experience that often leads to great passion - an ethusiasm driven by love for Jesus.
Peter also reminds us that we are not alone in our suffering. In 1 Peter 5:8-9 he writes: “Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings.”
There are at least two applications for us in verse 9 alone. The first application is that we can find encouragement and strength in this “fellowship of suffering.” Since we are not alone we don’t need to run off to a cave and have a pity party because we think we are the only ones being faithful and facing persecution for it. We can rise to the occasion, dust ourselves off, praise God, and get back to work.
The second application is that we should be praying hard for others. Paul said in 1 Corinthians 1:3-5, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For as we share abundantly in Christ’s sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too. I often find that when I am praying for other people who are suffering it takes my mind off of my own suffering. Sometimes my suffering seems so small compared to what other people are dealing with…. as the old saying goes, “I cried because I had no shoes until I met a man who had no feet” (Helen Keller).
LET’S PRAY - Dear Father of mercies, We praise you for you are the God of all comfort. We look forward to the day when we are in heaven above and you will wipe every tear from our eyes. We ask for you to strengthen us now. Be with those of our brothers and sisters who are persecuted and suffer for your name. Give us the strength to be faithful to the end. In Jesus name we pray. AMEN!
“Good night and God bless you.”