“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
A simple little verse that says so much. We see this at the end of the first chapter of a letter that Paul is writing to the church at Philippi. This was the first church that Paul planted in Europe (Acts 15:36-16:40). This letter is perhaps Paul’s most joyous letter. He is really just documenting his love for this church for all that they had done and continue to do for him and the Gospel of Jesus Christ. He wrote this letter from a prison cell, though you would never know it from the positive and uplifting words that he uses throughout. Paul is not free to preach while he is imprisoned and the only person that he can trust to deliver this letter to the church is young Timothy, his protege so-to-speak (Phil 2:19-23).
Even in such a love letter of joy, in today’s verse, Paul begins to warn the church that they too will suffer for Christ. This is something that Paul speaks of often. We see some detail when he wrote his second letter to the church at Corinth:
2 Corinthians 4:8-12 ( KJV ) 8We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; 9Persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed; 10Always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body. 11For we which live are alway delivered unto death for Jesus’ sake, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our mortal flesh. 12So then death worketh in us, but life in you.
In the above passage we can see Paul explaining the purpose of suffering. Our suffering and victory over the trials in this present world is a picture of the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus. Because He lives so do we! Paul is great to point out that it’s not all bad — troubled yet net distressed; perplexed but not in despair; persecuted but not forsaken; cast down but not destroyed. Why? Read on — that the life of Jesus is manifest in us. This is a good parallel passage for today’s verse.
Getting back to that Philippians verse, Paul is pretty much encouraging the readers that it is alright to suffer for Jesus sake. Although our suffering cannot compare to all that Christ did for us.
I am reminded of that passage in Isaiah that sums up all that Jesus did for us:
Isaiah 53:3-9 ( KJV ) 3He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not. 4Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. 5But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed. 6All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all. 7He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth. 8He was taken from prison and from judgment: and who shall declare his generation? for he was cut off out of the land of the living: for the transgression of my people was he stricken. 9And he made his grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death; because he had done no violence, neither was any deceit in his mouth.
He did all this for us! Have you really meditated upon this? Jesus deserved nothing of the ridicule, torture and torment that was given Him. He did it for us, for you, for me. How great is His love that He even did it before we even existed. He knew we were sinners and while we were “yet sinners” He died for us (Romans 5:8).
Nothing that we have ever done, are doing now or ever can do will compare with the unconditional love that Jesus has for us. What can we do? The least we can do is learn about what it means to be conformed to the image of Christ (Romans 8:29). We do this by purposing to be daily in His word because this is how God speaks to us today — through His written word; the Holy Bible. We can be thankful to the Lord by presenting our bodies as a “living sacrifice”, a thanksgiving for all He has done. This is our “reasonable service” it is the least we can do for all He has done for us.
Romans 12:1-2 ( KJV ) 1I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. 2And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.
I pray that I continue to consider all that Jesus had done for me and as the trials in this life come upon me.
I pray that I can continue to come boldly before the throne of grace because His grace is sufficient and far greater than anything this world has to offer.
I pray that I can be an example of Jesus by properly handling anything that comes my way.
I pray the same for my brothers and sisters in Christ.
Photo: photobucket.com. jjh4