The apostle Paul wrote to Timothy stating, "But thou hast fully known my doctrine, manner of life, purpose, faith, longsuffering, charity, patience, persecutions, afflictions, which came unto me at Antioch, at Iconium, at Lystra; what persecutions I endured: but out of them all the Lord delivered me. Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution." (2 Timothy 3:10-12).
Paul's inspired words agree with those of the Lord's. (Matthew 5:10-12). Notice the attitude we are to have when persecution arises because of the Word. We are to "rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you." You see, it has always been the case; when God's people will stand up for what is right, when they will boldly and lovingly proclaim the truth and expose error, men will rise up and "... shall say all manner of evil against you falsely ..." It can even lead to physical violence against you - as was the case with the valiant apostle Paul. However, the Lord said we should "rejoice" when this happens. Now, he did not say, "be happy about it"; there is a difference between joy and happiness, i.e. gaiety. Happiness is dependent upon how things are going, how people are treating you, etc. However, we can rejoice even when circumstances are not going our way, and even when people are treating us badly. Paul certainly did, did he not? He wrote the little book of Philippians, and the major theme of it is "JOY." Have you ever thought of the fact that Paul was in prison when he wrote it, not knowing whether he would live or die? People were not treating him very well either! Some were preaching Christ - hoping that in doing so they could cause Paul even more trouble! (Philippians 1:15-17). Yet, Paul could write, "Finally, my brethren, rejoice in the Lord ... Rejoice in the Lord always: and again I say, Rejoice." (Philippians 3:1; 4:4). He, like the other disciples of the first century, was "rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for His name." (Acts 5:41). This is, certainly, what the inspired Peter wrote about when he wrote, "Yet if any man suffer as a Christian, let him not be ashamed; but let him glorify God on this behalf." (1 Peter 4:16). Peter also said, "For this is thankworthy, if a man for conscience toward God endure grief, suffering wrongfully. For what glory is it, if, when ye be buffeted for your faults, ye shall take it patiently? However, if, when ye do well, and suffer for it, ye take it patiently, this is acceptable with God. For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps ..." (1 Peter 2:19-21).
We have a "calling" to suffer as Christ did! The Lord warned us that the world would hate us for His sake. This is true of the world and, shamefully, of worldly members of the church! He said, "The disciple is not above his master, nor the servant above his lord. It is enough for the disciple that he be as his master, and the servant as his lord. If they have called the master of the house Beelzebub, how much more shall they call them of his household?" (Matthew 10:22-25). Brethren, if you get close to Jesus the Christ, people will treat you like they treated Him!
I preached a lesson on 2 Timothy 3:12 once, and a sister came up to me afterward saying, "Jim, I'm a Christian, and I don't suffer persecution." I did not say it to be mean, but I simply stated, "Sister, it says all who will live godly shall suffer persecution!" The fear of persecution from others, whether it is in the form of physical violence, losing a business deal or a job, or just in the form of piercing words (Cf. I Peter 4:4), is what keeps many brethren from REALLY living godly lives. Many people, maybe even most people, will go to great lengths in "going along to get along" ... even to the point of tolerating sin and error in the lives of others.
Therefore, brothers and sisters, Stand Up For Jesus! However, know this, if you stand up, you make a bigger target. -P.O. Box 285, Crum, WV 25669.
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