As a young believer, I asked the Lord to protect me from my enemies. I pleaded with Him to reveal the traps set by my enemies so I could avoid them. This isn’t a bad prayer point at all. But there was a problem with my thinking. I thought my enemies are human beings. This thought had a huge repercussion on how I treated people. I saw unbelievers or anyone who attack my faith as an enemy. That was a real disaster to my faith. It took time and lots of Bible Study to realize Christians have three common and determined enemies—the devil, flesh and world.
Living as a believer in this world means interacting with many people under the influence of these three enemies. If you want God to use you to set captives free, you must be ready to pay a price, suffer and endure as Christ and the Apostles did.
Many Christians don’t want to suffer. Some pray that God should prevent difficult situations from coming their way, an illusion. It takes spiritual understanding to want to suffer for Christ. If you’re a true disciple of Jesus Christ, you’ve got no choice. You must suffer for Him. If you aren’t suffering, I doubt whether you’re living God’s will. In this world, no Christian can avoid persecution. Living God’s will always attract trouble in your life. There’s nothing you can do to avoid it. Sometimes, it may even result in death.
- Paul reveals they faced lots of troubles in Asia. And most times, living wasn’t fun at all (2 Corinthians 1:8-10).
- Again Paul reveals Ministers of Christ could face: abundant labour, beatings, imprisonment and persecution to the point of dying. A Minister of Christ should be ready to endure stoning, beatings with rods, unforeseen circumstances as he goes around to share the Good News, hunger, sleeplessness, thirst, nakedness, cold, Fasting, false accusations, etc. (2 Corinthians 11:22-28).
- Stephen the Martyr, an early believer in the days of the Apostles was stoned to death for the Gospel’s sake (Acts 7:54:60).
- King Herod killed James, the brother of John with a sword. Herod also locked up Peter in prison for the sake of the Gospel (Acts 12:1-4).
- Pater and John were arrested, threatened and intimidated for preaching Christ (Acts 4:1-22).
- Paul revealed that believers are not only to believe in Christ. They should also be ready to suffer for Him (Philippians 1:29-30).
- Jesus said those who come after Him must be persecuted (Mark 10:29-30). Paul stressed this point further in 2 Timothy 3:12.
- In fact, Peter mentions that sufferings diverse things for Christ’s sake shouldn’t be a surprise to any true believer (1 Peter 4:12).
- Again the Bible reveals that suffering for Christ’s sake is important for consolation and salvation (2 Corinthians 1:5-6, Matthew 10:22).
- The Psalmist reveals that sufferings are necessary to keep believers on track with God (Psalm 119:67, 71).
- Peter reveals that suffering for Christ sake is partaking of Christ sufferings. This is a joyful thing (1 Peter 3:14). You and Christ are bonded. You can expect many future blessings when Jesus returns (1 Peter 4:13-19; Matthew 5:11-12, Acts 5:41).
- Paul showed that when you suffer for Christ’s sake, He brings consolation which increases your reliance and dependence on God for life and everything else (2 Corinthians 1:9-10).
- Paul also reveals that those who will be glorified with Jesus on that fateful day of His return are those who accepted to share in His sufferings (Romans 8:16-17).
- God doesn’t want you to suffer unnecessarily (1 Peter 2:19-20). The only reason why accept to suffer is for Christ’s sake (Romans 8:36-37). Don’t give the devil a chance to mess up with you. Usually, you suffer for Christ sake when you overcome evil with good (Romans 12:21).
- Suffering for Christ’s sake attracts comfort from Him. One of the benefits of suffering for Christ is that you’ll go through diverse hard experiences. God will indeed, deliver you from those situations. But in the process, He’ll impact you with specific skills and competencies to help others who are going through similar situations (2 Corinthians 1:3-4).
- Suffering for Christ’s sake calls for endurance. It’s not always easy. But God gives you the grace to go through whatever comes your way. You must be determined to stand your grounds (2 Timothy 2:10-13, Hebrews 11:24-26).
- Suffering for Christ is the true Christian lifestyle. If you aren’t living and suffering for Christ, you’re surely going a direction contrary to God’s will for you (James 5:10-11, I Peter 4:16; 5:10).
- It is a blessing to suffer for Christ (Mathew 5:11-12).
Many believers want nothing to do with suffering. They’re afraid to die. They run away from anything that causes pain. How many of us want to preach the gospel in places where security issues raise concerns? We want to preserve our lives, live long and enjoy the temporary pleasures of this world. Instead of working for the Lord, we want to travel the world for self-pleasures, sleep in luxurious hotels, eat wonderful food, hang out with friends, acquire new innovations for fun and waste valuable resources at our disposal to satisfy the flesh. Of course, it’s an enormous struggle. Some of us want to be used by God. But, we’re so attached to the world. We’re reluctant to let go of some past habits that prevent God from using us. God is faithful. He wants to give us a new heart and teach us how to suffer for Him.
‘But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us. We are hard–pressed on every side, yet not crushed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed— always carrying about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body. For we who live are always delivered to death for Jesus’ sake, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh’ (2 Corinthians 4:7-11, NKJV).
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