Heavenly Conduct – Pt. 3 : Suffering for Christ’s Sake
“29For to you it has been granted for Christ’s sake, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake, 30experiencing the same conflict which you saw in me, and now hear to be in me.” (Philippians 1:29-30 NASB)
Suffering is not something we tend to think about in a positive way. Naturally, we try to avoid situations that have the possibility of inducing any kind of suffering. However, suffering can not be avoided in a fallen world. Some suffer involuntarily. Others experience disciplinary or consequential suffering. And some suffer for following Christ. The last reason is the focus of these verses.
Suffering for following Christ isn’t a popular message, but it’s Biblical and must not be avoided. The gospel without suffering is no gospel at all. Unfortunately, popular teaching omits the reality of suffering or teaches it incorrectly. This can be attributed to the proponents of the prosperity or the health and wealth doctrine. An honest read of Scripture will prove otherwise, especially when we examine the lives of Jesus Christ, The Apostle Paul and the extra-biblical accounts of the 11 remaining original Apostles as well as church history martyrs.
Continuing the call to living worthy of the gospel, verse 28 tells us the Philippians had opponents. Acts 16:16-21 provides reasonable evidence that these are the opponents Paul spoke of. After starting the first church in Europe, Paul confronts occultism and demonic possession and is brought before the city officials accused of throwing the city into confusion by preaching the gospel. After Paul’s departure from Philippi (Acts 16:40), the church grew and incurred more persecution. Understanding their turmoil, Paul gives them a different perspective on their suffering so they may respond accordingly.
Paul tells the Philippian believers that their belief in and suffering for Christ was granted to them by God for Christ’s sake. For granted, Paul uses the Greek word echaristhe, which is a past tense form of the word charizomai. The root word is charis, which is grace. Literally, Paul said their belief in Christ as well as their suffering, was an act of grace or benevolent gifts to them from God. These two gifts may be the hardest truths for many believers to accept if the foundation of belief and suffering are not properly understood.
Do we look at suffering as a gift? Perhaps, if we have the right perspective of suffering. Paul’s words echo Jesus’ words to Ananias about him in Acts 9:15-16. We know that suffering has many benefits, when it’s for righteousness sake. Suffering for His sake verifies our adoption. We suffer that our faith might be strengthened. We suffer that we would draw nearer to Christ and be broken of our self-reliance. We know suffering leads us to understand, in a small way, the sufferings of our Savior.
Ultimately, I believe the end in suffering is the exaltation of and exultation in Christ. When we suffer for His sake, that is communicating to the world that Christ is the goal of our obedience. Not heaven only, but Christ Himself!
but to the degree that you share the sufferings of Christ, keep on rejoicing, so that also at the revelation of His glory you may rejoice with exultation.
(1 Peter 4:13)
Christ’s worth is magnified through our suffering for His sake and because we are in Him, it catalyzes joy in us.
So they [the apostles] went on their way from the presence of the Council, rejoicing that they had been considered worthy to suffer shame for His name.
Are we living in such a way that the Lord will grant us such a blessed gift?
10″Blessed are those who have been persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
11″Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me.
12″Rejoice and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great; for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
Prayer : Lord, may we be found faithful during various times of testing that lie ahead.
Grace & Peace,