Privileged Suffering

“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)

Paul wrote in the previous verses that we are to conduct ourselves as though our only citizenship was worthy of the gospel message that we proclaim, and that in doing so we should be committed to a mindset held together by the Holy Spirit. Then, he encouraged us not to be “terrified by your adversaries” (Philippians 1:28).

Such adversaries—from the devil himself (1 Peter 5:8) to business (Matthew 5:25) and family problems (Luke 12:13)—are part and parcel to those who would “live godly in Christ Jesus” (2 Timothy 3:12). We should not be surprised when such challenges come; rather, we should be alarmed if all men “speak well of you” (Luke 6:26).

Curiously, Paul wrote that we are “gifted” (Greek verb charizomai, same idea as the related noun charis) with this privilege, in the interests of our Lord Jesus, to “suffer for his sake.” The apostles understood this paradox as they left the Sanhedrin in Jerusalem “rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for his name” (Acts 5:41).

Peter wrote that we should follow the example set for us by the Lord Jesus, “who, when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered, he threatened not; but committed himself to him that judgeth righteously” (1 Peter 2:23). In fact, we should “rejoice” when asked to share in the same kind of sufferings that our Lord endured, and whenever we are “reproached for the name of Christ” we should be happy, “for the spirit of glory and of God resteth upon you” (1 Peter 4:14).

Privileged suffering indeed! James wrote that we should “count it all joy” (James 1:2) when we are tested. Those times increase our faith and allow us to demonstrate our allegiance to Christ. HMM III

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