By Tony Miano
Bible Reading: Philippians 1
Many Christians in the west believe Christians in persecuted areas would have us pray for the end of their persecution. The opposite is true. Christians living and dying in areas where authentic persecution is commonplace would rather western Christians pray the Persecuted Church would suffer well, to bring glory and honor to the Lord Jesus Christ. In fact, I have heard multiple reports of Christians living in areas of persecution praying for their western brethren. Our persecuted brethren pray their brothers and sisters in the west—amidst all of the sinful distractions of wealth, ease, perversion, and gluttony the west has to offer—would learn to suffer well. They pray that we, the sophisticated Christians of “first world” countries, would repent of our worldliness and live a life worthy of the gospel of Jesus Christ.
And, in the end, that’s all that really matters in this life. Have I lived a life worthy of the gospel?
In our passage for today, the apostle Paul does not merely exhort, but commands the believers in Philippi to live a life worthy of the gospel of Christ. And the expression of that gospel-worthy life will be seen in every Christian as a life of perseverance, a life of courage, and a life of suffering.
Before we look at the expressions of a gospel-worthy life, we need to first determine what Paul means by his command to “let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ.”
A Manner of Life Worthy of the Gospel of Christ
Paul begins verse 27 with the word “only.” The word “only appears 333 times in the English Standard Version of the Bible. It is often used in a very emphatic way, as it is used, here, in verse 27. For instance: It is used by God in Genesis 6:5 to describe the continuous evil of man’s heart.
“The LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.” (Genesis 6:5)
It is used by God in Joshua 1:7 to command Joshua to live a valiant and courageous life as he led God’s people.
“Only be strong and very courageous, being careful to do according to all the law that Moses my servant commanded you. Do not turn from it to the right hand or to the left, that you may have good success wherever you go.” (Joshua 1:7)
It is used by God in Job 1:12 and 2:6 to emphasize to Satan the permitted limits of his assault on Job.
“And the LORD said to Satan, ‘Behold, all that he has is in your hand. Only against him do not stretch out your hand.’ So Satan went out from the presence of the LORD.” (Job 1:12)
“And the LORD said to Satan, ‘Behold, he is in your hand; only spare his life.’ (Job 2:6)
It is used by David in Psalm 51:4 to express the depth of the knowledge of his sin against God.
“Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight, so that you may be justified in your words and blameless in your judgment.” (Psalm 51:4)
It is used by Jesus in Matthew 19:17 to correct a rich, young ruler’s misunderstanding of the true nature of goodness.
“And he said to him, ‘Why do you ask me about what is good? There is only one who is good. If you would enter life, keep the commandments.’” (Matthew 19:17)
It is used by Jesus in John 17:3 in His high, priestly prayer to emphatically affirm there is only one God and He and God are one.
“And this is eternal life, that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.” (John 17:3)
And, in the magnificent revelation received by John (Revelation 21:27), the word is used to emphatically declare that only those whose names are written in the Lamb’s Book of Life will enter Heaven.
“But nothing unclean will ever enter it, nor anyone who does what is detestable or false, but only those who are written in the Lamb's book of life.” (Revelation 21:27)
Paul couldn’t make himself clearer to the Philippians. And he wrote to them in a language they would understand. The most essential thing a Christian must do, this side of Heaven, is to live a life worthy of the gospel of Christ. Only this matters as a practical outworking of their justification, which, by design, fuels every aspect of their sanctification.
To be “worthy of the gospel” in no way implies any human being is capable of meriting the gospel’s rewards and benefits. No one has been, is, or ever will be worthy to receive the salvific gift of the gospel of Jesus Christ. No life can be lived with the perfection required to merit forgiveness of sin and the granting of eternal life. In this sense, man’s depravity forever excludes him from being “worthy of the gospel.”
What Paul is communicating to the Philippians is that they are to live their lives (and again, this is a command, not a suggestion) as people redeemed by the Author of the gospel and the Author and Perfecter of their faith. It’s the gospel and the gospel’s Author that is worthy of them living this way. Their salvation merits their uncompromising, unmitigated, undying commitment to live as those who are saved by the only One able to save and the only One who is worthy of praise.
This is the command of God—not only for the Philippians believers of two millennia ago. This is the command of God for every born-again follower of Jesus Christ. And if this command seems too burdensome to anyone professing to know Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior, then they are in peril. They are in jeopardy of forfeiting their soul. They must examine themselves, test themselves, to see if they are even in the faith. The gospel belongs to Christ. He authored it. He owns it. He is the content of the gospel. Jesus Christ is the gospel. Believers are the humble, unworthy recipients of the gospel.
The other side of the coin is that Jesus Christ and His gospel are worthy of the Christian’s love, honor, respect, and sacrifice. Jesus Christ and His gospel are worthy of every Christian’s denial of and death to self. Christ and His gospel are worthy of every Christian’s perseverance, every Christian’s courage, and every Christian’s suffering.
Perseverance, courage, and suffering—this is the kind of fruit Paul not only wants to see, but wants to hear about, in the lives of his Philippians brethren. Paul says as much in the rest of verse 27: “…so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of you are…”
A Life of Perseverance
The last part of verse 27 reads: “…standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving side by side for the faith of the gospel.”
A life worthy of the gospel of Jesus Christ is a life marked by perseverance.
Charles Spurgeon once said the following about perseverance:
“Conversion is a turning into the right road; the next thing is to walk in it. The daily going on in that road is as essential as the first starting if you would reach the desired end. To strike the first blow is not all the battle; to him that overcometh the crown is promised. To start in the race is nothing, many have done that who have failed; but to hold out till you reach the winning post is the great point of the matter. Perseverance is as necessary to a man’s salvation as conversion.”
“But some, who do run well at first, have hardly breath enough to keep the pace up, and so turn aside for a little comfortable ease, and do not get into the road again. Such are not genuine Christians; they are only men-made, self-made Christians; and these self-made Christians never hold on, and never can hold on, because time wears them out, and they turn back to their former state.”
In addition to verse 27, the phrase “stand firm” appears thirteen times in the ESV translation of the Bible.
In Exodus 14:13, Moses used the phrase when addressing the fickle and fearful Israelites, when they thought for sure they were doomed on the shore of the Red Sea.
“And Moses said to the people, ‘Fear not, stand firm, and see the salvation of the LORD, which he will work for you today. For the Egyptians whom you see today, you shall never see again.’”(Exodus 14:13)
In 2 Chronicles 20:17, A Levite priest by the name of Jahaziel used the phrase as he stood in the midst of the people of Judah. They were fearful as a conglomeration of armies were amassing to attack them.
“And he said, ‘Listen, all Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem and King Jehoshaphat: Thus says the Lord to you, ‘Do not be afraid and do not be dismayed at this great horde, for the battle is not yours but God's.’”(2 Chronicles 20:17)
In 1 Peter 5:12, Peter uses the phrase to exhort the recipients of his letter.
“By Silvanus, a faithful brother as I regard him, I have written briefly to you, exhorting and declaring that this is the true grace of God. Stand firm in it.”(1 Peter 5:12)
As the example in Exodus shows us, a persevering life worthy of the gospel of Jesus Christ is a life in which a person stands firm in the face of seemingly insurmountable circumstances, trusting God to get them through those circumstances.
All-too-often, Christians recite 1 Corinthians 10:13 to emphasize the idea that God will never give the Christian more than they can handle. The reality is, in our own strength, there are no circumstances we can handle in such a way as to glorify Christ and claim spiritual victory. And when reciting the verse, many Christians fail to recite the last phrase of the verse, which is the key to the entire verse.
“No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.”(1 Corinthians 10:13)
That you may be able to endure it!
Yes, the Lord destroyed the Egyptian army; but not until He made His people pass through the Red Sea. The Lord could have evaporated the Red Sea. He could have crushed the Egyptian army before they ever left Egypt. But, according to His sovereign plan, His design for His people was to pass through the waters.
The people of Israel were tempted to return to Egypt in disobedient unbelief. God enabled them to stand firm, to wait and see the salvation of the Lord, and to endure what must have been a frightening walk between two massive walls of water. A life worthy of the gospel of Jesus Christ is a persevering life that, with God’s help, endures the trial of life.
As the example in 2 Chronicles shows us, a persevering life worthy of the gospel of Jesus Christ is a life in which a person stands firm in the face of any and all enemy attacks—knowing God is fighting on behalf of and in front of His children, with the outcome predetermined from eternity past.
And, as the example in 2 Peter shows us, a persevering life worthy of the gospel of Jesus Christ is a life in which a person stands firm in the true grace of God. God’s grace is amazing. It is sufficient in any time of need. Without the grace of God no man will ever see Him. Without the grace of God no man would ever be saved. No one can persevere to the end without the grace of God.
Not only is a gospel-worthy life a persevering life evidenced by the way we stand firm—refusing to give any ground to the enemy, refusing to take our eyes of Christ, refusing to relinquish our trust and faith in Him in any and all circumstances—it is a life marked by a real and active striving with other Christians to represent and defend the faith.
Those of you who know me know that I bang the drum loudly and frequently regarding the importance of street evangelists (and every Christian, for that matter) being rooted in and accountable to the fellowship of the saints, in one of God’s local assemblies.
A gospel-worthy life is not a nomadic existence. It is a life that cherishes fellowship with a congregation of followers of Christ. It is a life that welcomes the accountability of other Christians. It is a life that welcomes the opportunity to submit to the authority of God’s under-shepherds—pastors and elders. It is a life that feeds on opportunities to fight the good fight of the faith, shoulder-to-shoulder with the brethren. It is a life that desires unity with the Church and within the Church.
The Greek word Paul uses, which is best translated as “striving,” carries the idea of fighting, battling, and contending. A gospel-worthy life is a life that is engaged in the personal laborious struggle against sin, the corporate laborious struggle for unity among the brethren, and it is a laborious struggle in defense of the faith.
In addition to being an intensive word that connotes fighting, it also carries with it the idea of an athletic contest. Picture, if you will, a distance runner straining his neck and chest forward to cross the finish line to win a race. Now, add to that Paul’s exhortation to strive together (to strive side-by-side) with other believers, and you have a picture of an entirely different race.
Instead of an individual runner straining and striving for an individual prize, picture a three-legged race. But don’t picture it in the sense of the age-old, goofy picnic contest. Paul tells the Philippians that their striving should be “side-by-side.”
If you’ve ever been in a three-legged race, you know it is impossible to win the race as an individual. Your team, your partnership, is only as good as the slowest runner, or the weakest person. If one of the two people tied together or paired in a sack falls to the ground, the other person has no other option but to help their partner to their feet and then the two begin again to move as one.
Paul often used terms in his epistles that, outside the Bible, were used in reference to sporting events. Growing up in a Greco-Roman world, Paul had those games of old, in mind. But the sporting games of two millennia ago, while similar to some of today’s Olympic Games, were, in other ways, very different.
[Describe boxing and wrestling matches of old]
These were fights to the death.
Paul expectation of the Philippians was that they would endure together; that they would fight together and, if necessary, die together for their shared faith in Christ and belief in His Word; that they would persevere together.
A life worthy of the gospel is a life marked by perseverance. And, it only stands to reason that such a life would, therefore, be marked by courage. A life worthy of the gospel is a courageous life.
A Life of Courage
“…and not frightened in anything by your opponents. This is a clear sign to them of their destruction, but of your salvation, and that from God” (Phil. 1:28).
Courage is a necessity in the gospel-worthy life. You can’t stand firm and united with your Christian brethren without courage. You can’t strive in defense of the faith, let alone sometimes carry some of your brothers and sister in Christ as your strive together, without courage.
C.S. Lewis wrote: “Courage is not simply one of the virtues, but the form of every virtue at the testing point.”
Socrates wrote: “He is a man of courage who does not run away, but remains at his post and fights against the enemy.”
Ronald Reagan said, “There are no easy answers' but there are simple answers. We must have the courage to do what we know is morally right.”
Four times in the first chapter of Joshua, God commanded Joshua to “be strong and courageous.” Toward the end of the Book of Joshua, Joshua exhorted the people of Israel to do the same.
Nehemiah, one of the great leaders of Scripture, encouraged those rebuilding the walls and the gates of Jerusalem with these words:
“And I looked and arose and said to the nobles and to the officials and to the rest of the people, ‘Do not be afraid of them. Remember the Lord, who is great and awesome, and fight for your brothers, your sons, your daughters, your wives, and your homes’” (Nehemiah 4:14).
It was with courage that Joseph of Arimathea, a respected member of the Jewish Council, went directly to Pilate, the man who ordered the execution of Jesus, and asked for Jesus’ body.
Fear is probably one of the most prevalent sins in the life of most Christians. When present, it permeates literally every aspect of life and every relationship we have. But fear, unless it is the fear of the Lord and the consequences of sin, is not from God. The apostle Paul exhorted Timothy with these words:
“for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control” (2 Timothy 1:7).
Paul commands the Philippians that they are not to fear anything their enemies (and the enemies of God) throw at them. Nothing. Jesus told His disciples as much. Jesus said,
“So have no fear of them [anyone], for nothing is covered that will not be revealed, or hidden that will not be known. What I tell you in the dark, say in the light, and what you hear whispered, proclaim on the housetops. And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell” (Matthew 10:26-28).
Paul then makes a very interesting statement. On the heels of exhorting the Philippian believers to be fearless in the face of any opposition to their faith in Jesus Christ, he writes: “This is a clear sign to them of their destruction, but of your salvation, and that is from God.”
The phrase “clear sign” is better understood as “absolute proof” or “certainty.” The Philippians perseverance and courage, as well as their suffering (of which Paul would speak next), served as absolute proof that those opposing and persecuting the Philippians had signed their own death warrants. They would be destroyed and spend eternity in Hell for their opposition to those who were living lives worthy of the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Not only did the Philippians’ gospel-worthy living serve as proof of the inevitable destruction of the enemies of Christ, but it also proof of the genuineness of their faith and the security of their salvation. Now, it is extremely important to note what Paul is not saying. Paul is not saying that the Philippians’ salvation was secured by their gospel-worthy living. On the contrary, Paul is saying that the Philippians’ gospel-worthy living was evidence (proof) they were, in fact, soundly saved.
“…and that from God.” Quite literally, what Paul is saying is the Philippians’ perseverance, their courage, the destruction of those who oppose them and the gospel, the Philippians privileged suffering (which we will consider next), and the evidence of the Philippians faith in Jesus Christ—all of it, is from God. God is sovereign.
Nothing subverts the sovereign will of God. Everything in life, in everyone’s life, is either caused or allowed by God. God blesses. God disciplines. God punishes. God saves. God destroys. And everything He does is good. So is God the author of evil? No! While God is sovereign over evil, He in no way is the creator of it.
John Calvin wrote the following in his Institutes:
“. . . the Lord had declared that "everything that he had made . . . was exceedingly good" [Gen. 1:31]. Whence, then comes this wickedness to man, that he should fall away from his God? Lest we should think it comes from creation, God had put His stamp of approval on what had come forth from himself. By his own evil intention, then, man corrupted the pure nature he had received from the Lord; and by his fall drew all his posterity with him into destruction. Accordingly, we should contemplate the evident cause of condemnation in the corrupt nature of humanity-which is closer to us-rather than seek a hidden and utterly incomprehensible cause in God's predestination.”
And John MacArthur wrote:
“God is certainly sovereign over evil. There's a sense in which it is proper even to say that evil is part of His eternal decree. He planned for it. It did not take Him by surprise. It is not an interruption of His eternal plan. He declared the end from the beginning, and He is still working all things for His good pleasure (Isaiah 46:9-10).
“But God's role with regard to evil is never as its author. He simply permits evil agents to work, then overrules evil for His own wise and holy ends. Ultimately He is able to make all things-including all the fruits of all the evil of all time-work together for a greater good (Romans 8:28).”
There seems to be more professing Christians these days who are annoyed, angered, even offended by the theological truth and biblical reality that God is completely sovereign—sovereign over everything; that the free will of man is not sacrosanct. Be that as it may, what professing Christians believe about the character, nature, and authority of God is subservient to whether or not what they believe is true.
And God is true, though every man be found a liar. If God is not sovereign over everything, then He ceases to be God. If man can in any way subvert or circumvent His desire to save or His determination to judge, then, in the moment of that subversion or circumvention, man becomes god.
May it never be! And it will never be.
A life worthy of the gospel is a life of perseverance. It is a life of courage. And, finally, it is a life of suffering. Napoleon Bonaparte said, “It requires more courage to suffer than to die.”
A Life of Suffering
Paul finishes our passage for this morning with these words, in verses 29 and 30.
“For it has been granted to you that for the sake of Christ you should not only believe in him but also suffer for his sake, engaged in the same conflict that you saw I had and now hear that I still have.”( Philippians 1:29-30
Paul articulates his next thought by reasserting the sovereignty of God in all things, including belief and suffering. Yes, even belief is a sovereign act of God. Man’s response to the gospel by faith and belief, as merely an act of his own will, is utterly impossible for man.
After the episode with the rich, young ruler Jesus spoke to His disciples.
“And Jesus said to his disciples, ‘Truly, I say to you, only with difficulty will a rich person enter the kingdom of heaven. Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God.’ When the disciples heard this, they were greatly astonished, saying, ‘Who then can be saved?’ But Jesus looked at them and said, ‘With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible’” Matthew 19:23-26).
To those of us who are saved, to those of us who have been born from above, it has been granted to us, as a precious gift, to believe the gospel. If God had left us to ourselves, if He had left us to our own devices and the determination of our own will, not only wouldn’t we have believed the gospel; we couldn’t have believed the gospel.
But not only is belief and faith granted to us by God as precious gifts; suffering is also granted to us as a precious gift. In fact, the root of the Greek word here translated in the ESV as “has been granted” is most literally translated “to grace.” So, we can rightly translate the first part of verse 29 this way: “For it has been graciously granted to you.”
The implications are massive and utterly foreign in much of western culture and American evangelicalism. Some Christians in America have a deep enough understanding of Scripture to realize that suffering in the Christian life is granted by God, as an act of His sovereign will—sometimes as a means of divine discipline; sometimes as a means of sovereign sanctification. But, I fear, fewer Christians see the beauty in the depth and breadth of Christian suffering. Fewer Christians realize that authentic suffering for Christ’s sake is a golden thread of grace woven through the tapestry of the Christian’s life.
Many people confuse suffering for Christ’s sake with suffering for sin’s consequences. Peter wrote in 1 Peter 2:19-25:
For this is a gracious thing, when, mindful of God, one endures sorrows while suffering unjustly. For what credit is it if, when you sin and are beaten for it, you endure? But if when you do good and suffer for it you endure, this is a gracious thing in the sight of God. For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps. He committed no sin, neither was deceit found in his mouth. When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly. He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed. For you were straying like sheep, but have now returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.
And in 1 Peter 4:12-17, Peter wrote:
“Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice insofar as you share Christ's sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed. If you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you. But let none of you suffer as a murderer or a thief or an evildoer or as a meddler. Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in that name. For it is time for judgment to begin at the household of God; and if it begins with us, what will be the outcome for those who do not obey the gospel of God?”
Suffering for the consequences of sin is not remotely equivalent to suffering for Christ’s sake. Yet, many Christians—maybe even some of us here—from time to time, try to elevate the consequence for sin to the level of persecution. Here’s an example that maybe all of us can relate to.
So, why, especially here in the United States, do so many Christians try to elevate discipline, consequence, or worse yet, inconvenience to the level of persecution? The answer is a simple one, really.
Most American Evangelical Christians have never experienced real persecution. The Persecuted Church is always somewhere else, in the eyes, heart, and mind of the average American Evangelical. And, by and large, that is true. Most American Christians know very little, if anything at all, of what it is like to experience persecution for their faith—even once, let alone as a way of life, like many of our Christian brethren in other parts of the world.
Most of those same Christians who have never experienced real persecution for their faith would likewise probably not consider persecution as something graciously granted to followers of Christ. In fact, I think Christians in the west are so busy focusing on the material blessings of life, making the assumption they are blessings, and trying to accumulate more, it is counter-intuitive for them to see suffering as a form of blessing.
And, at the risk of offending some, I will go as far as to say that a primary reason American Christians are both confused regarding what real persecution is and unable to see blessings and grace in the mist of suffering is this. Many American Christians don’t take their Christianity outside of the four walls of the church. Too many American Christians refuse to represent Christ publicly. They are unwilling to sacrifice reputation, relationships, and comfort for Christ’s sake.
Just like any team, a church family is only as strong as its weakest link. And if you look at the chains of ministry in the majority in most American churches, you will see a sad common denominator. The weakest link is typically evangelism.
The smallest line item in the budget; the smallest Bible studies; the smallest presence in the community; the smallest topic of conversations within the body life of the church—is often local evangelism. Invariably, the stated purpose and vision of the church includes the evangelization of the lost, within the community where the church lives, breathes, serves, and worships. But the longer the church exists the blinder the congregation becomes regarding the stated purpose and vision.
A reason for this is one word: comfort. Ridicule is uncomfortable. Loss of reputation, friends, and other relationship is uncomfortable. Fear is uncomfortable. Persecution is uncomfortable. Suffering is uncomfortable. And evangelism can, and often does, bring about all these discomforts and more. So, most Christians simply decide not to do it. They choose to live in disobedience instead of even the potential of discomfort.
Yet God’s Word makes it clear that He has graciously given; He has allowed for His glory and His good pleasure; He has permitted for our sanctification and because of His great love for us; He has granted us the privilege of suffering for His name’s sake.
Instead of viewing suffering through the lens of what it might cost us, we should view suffering through the lens of what it has already cost the Father. It cost the Father the humiliation and death of His one and only Son, Jesus. And the Son is infinitely more precious, beautiful, and valuable to the Father than all of humanity combined.
Whatever we, as Christians are unwilling to suffer for the sake of Jesus Christ is evidence that we value our physical lives more than the honor and glory of our Lord and King, our Master and Messiah, our God and Savior. And whatever loss we are unwilling to suffer for the sake of Jesus Christ is, at the moment of refusal, is, for all intents and purposes, is our god.
A life worthy of the gospel: are you living it?
A life worthy of the gospel of Jesus Christ is a life marked by perseverance. Jesus said those who endure, who persevere to the end will be saved. Not might be saved. Not could be saved. Will be saved.
Now, understand this. Make no mistake. Jesus is not saying perseverance is required to receive or maintain salvation. Salvation is of the Lord. And He has promised in His Word to maintain, secure, and quite literally guard the salvation of everyone He saves. No. Those whom the Lord saves are and forever will be saved. And the evidence of the genuineness of one’s faith will be seen in their ongoing (not perfect—on going) repentance, faith, and perseverance.
A life worthy of the gospel of Jesus Christ is a life marked by perseverance. Are you living it?
A life worthy of the gospel of Jesus Christ is a life marked by courage. Courage is not the utter absence of fear. Courage is obeying God’s Word and following Christ wherever following Him will take you, in spite of any and all fear that may come with the obedience and faith exercised by the believer. The Word of God declares that cowards will have their part in the lake of fire (Revelation 21:8). Those who know Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior are filled with a spirit of love, discipline and self-control. They are not filled with a spirit of fear. They are courageous enough to deny themselves, take up their crosses, and follow Christ. They will kill and destroy the god of self, no matter what the personal cost, because they love Christ more than they love themselves.
A life worthy of the gospel of Jesus Christ is a life marked by courage. Are you living it?
A life worthy of the gospel of Jesus Christ is a life marked by suffering. God’s Word says, “Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, while evil people and impostors will go on from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived” (1 Timothy 3:11-13). And Jesus comforts us with these words: “If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you” (John 15:18).
If we, as Christians, desperately seek and desire to have lost people in the world like and accept us, then it is likely evidence that we are trying to flee the graciousness of our God. We would rather be loved by the world than suffer at the hands of the world, for Christ’s sake. We would rather be accepted by the world than be persecuted for our faith in Christ. May it never be! But if this is the case in your life, examine yourself to see if you are even in the faith.
A life worthy of the gospel of Jesus Christ is a life marked by suffering. Are you living it?
Is your life and is the way you are living it an act of worship before almighty God? Are you willing to die to self and live for Christ, regardless of the cost? Will you persevere or will you quit? Will you live in fear or live by faith? Are you willing to suffer loss—never seeking it, but willing to experience it? Are you willing to do it all for Christ’s sake? Will you exalt His name? Will you glorify His name? Will love His name and His person?
A life worthy of the gospel of Jesus Christ: are you living it?