In 2.3, we learned every true believer should expect persecution in life. We also discovered the main problem is not being persecuted, rather how we handle it. If we handle persecution God’s way, it opens doors to amazing benefits. Below are five:
Paul says, ‘‘Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong’’ (2 Corinthians 12:10, NKJV).
Persecution puts you in an uncomfortable situation requiring patience and endurance. When you’ve exercised patience and endurance in the situation, God’s brings deliverance or relief. But deliverance doesn’t come empty. It comes with supernatural strength, courage and boldness to live for Jesus. You can confront bigger problems with godly confidence. No mountain becomes too difficult for you to climb. God transforms all weaknesses into strength in your life.
Jesus says, ‘‘If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you’’ (John 15:18, NKJV).
If you only experience or expect material blessings and worldly happiness, you can’t understand the deep things of God’s kingdom. It’s easy to be enticed and entangled in the temporary enjoyments of this world and forget about God. But when you face momentary hardships and endure in difficulties you’re forced to gear your attention on Jesus, ‘‘the author and finisher of our faith’’ (Hebrews 12:2, NKJV).
The Psalmist says it better, ‘‘This is my comfort in my affliction, For Your word has given me life’’ (Psalm 119:50, NKJV). Talking about the sufferings they endured in Asia, Paul says, ‘‘Yes, we had the sentence of death in ourselves, that we should not trust in ourselves but in God who raises the dead’’ (2 Corinthians 1:9, NKJV).
Flee from preachers who only encourage you to swim in wealth and enjoy life on earth – that’s not the message of the Gospel. If you want to grow spiritually, desire to suffer for Christ’s sake.
Paul told Timothy, ‘‘Yes, and all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution’’ (2 Timothy 3:12).
If you’re not persecuted you need to ask yourself and God the reasons why. There’s no excuse for true believers. They will be persecuted in this world. And it’s a good sign showing they’re partaking in the sufferings of Christ, a clear proof they’re in line with God’s will. Paul clearly told Timothy, ‘‘But you have carefully followed my doctrine, manner of life, purpose, faith, longsuffering, love, perseverance, persecutions, afflictions, which happened to me at Antioch, at Iconium, at Lystra–what persecutions I endured. And out of them all the Lord delivered me’’ (2 Timothy 1:10-11).
A Christ-Centered lifestyle endures some degree of Godly sufferings. But these sufferings unveil the beauty of serving God as He reveals His mysteries in the process.
‘‘Now those who were scattered after the persecution that arose over Stephen travelled as far as Phoenicia, Cyprus, and Antioch, preaching the word to no one but the Jews only. But some of them were men from Cyprus and Cyrene, who, when they had come to Antioch, spoke to the Hellenists, preaching the Lord Jesus. And the hand of the Lord was with them, and a great number believed and turned to the Lord’’ (Acts 11:19-21, NKJV).
A good study of the history of the Early Church reveals the Gospel spread fast to other parts of the world mainly due to persecution. Many miracles occurred while Christians were persecuted. The Philippian Jailer and his whole family were saved after Paul and Silas were persecuted for casting out a spirit of divination from a slave girl (Acts 16:34). Even while being unjustly accused of blasphemy, Stephen ‘‘full of faith and power, did great wonders and signs among the people’’ (Acts 6:8, NKJV).
‘‘Therefore they set taskmasters over them to afflict them with their burdens. And they built for Pharaoh supply cities, Pithom and Raamses. But the more they afflicted them, the more they multiplied and grew. And they were in dread of the children of Israel’’ (Exodus 1:11-12, NKJV).
Persecution transforms you into a giant in front of the enemy. It ensures God is glorified in your life. When the enemy sees you, he panics and looks for more ways to inflict you with pain and hardships. He devises strategies to cause you to compromise your faith in God.
But the more the kingdom of darkness fights you, the more you become a terror to them. Hence, Peter says, ‘‘If you are reproached for the name of Christ, blessed are you, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you. On their part He is blasphemed, but on your part He is glorified’’ (1 Peter 4:14, NKJV).
The Prophet Isaiah says, ‘‘Behold, I will make you into a new threshing sledge with sharp teeth; You shall thresh the mountains and beat them small, And make the hills like chaff. You shall winnow them, the wind shall carry them away, And the whirlwind shall scatter them; You shall rejoice in the Lord, And glory in the Holy One of Israel’’ (Isaiah 41:15-16, NKJV).
Of course, persecution has many more benefits than these. As you read and meditate on God’s Word, you discover them.
So far, we discovered it’s possible to suffer for doing good things. It’s known as persecution. We also discovered persecution leaves us with two main options – serve God or compromise His will. But when we chose to handle persecution rightly, we get not only deliverance and spiritual growth but also valuable opportunities to propagate the Gospel and bring glory to Jesus.
In 3.1, we’ll begin with Troubles That Come To Us For Doing Nothing
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