Now I want you to know, brothers and sisters, that what has happened to me has actually served to advance the gospel. As a result, it has become clear throughout the whole palace guard and to everyone else that I am in chains for Christ. And because of my chains, most of the brothers and sisters have become confident in the Lord and dare all the more to proclaim the gospel without fear. Philippians 1:12-14 (NIV)
We are eager to hear how God is going to bless us and give us a life of abundance. We don’t like to hear about the possibility of suffering when we follow the Lord. And yet, we are willing to sacrifice for that which is truly important to us. A mother will go through inhumane levels of pain to give birth to a child, and suffer that gladly for the love of her child. A sportsman or woman will give everything, and hold nothing back, enduring pain to achieve an Olympic gold medal. I can think of nothing that is really excellent in life that does not come through endurance and dedication.
What is our new life in Christ worth to us? What are we willing to do for Jesus today? When Paul writes of the joy in Christ, he is backing his words by a life of suffering and dedication to Christ. He is in chains in Rome. His only crime was believing that Jesus is Lord. All his suffering is revealed in Acts 21-28. He is bound to an elite soldier of the emperor’s palace guard. He does not cry about the injustice of it all, he grabs the opportunity. As the soldier is a captive audience, he tells him about Jesus. And when the guard changes, he tells the new guy about Jesus. Soon a lot of elite soldiers start believing in Christ, becoming part of God’s family.
Because Paul was willing to endure and sacrifice for his beliefs, his testimony was so convincing. He had skin in the game. It inspired others to follow Jesus, and to start telling the world about his love. People believe when Christians walk the walk, not just talk the talk. Are you willing to suffer for Christ?
Prayer: Lord Jesus, you have suffered and died so that I may live and love. When you called me to be your disciple, you asked that I would bear my own cross and pay the price of self-sacrifice. You are worth it! Help me to be willing to suffer, if needed, so that your kingdom may grow and others may find you as Lord. Amen