Thursday Devotion: Fruit of Suffering
This was according to the eternal purpose that he has realized in Christ Jesus our Lord, in whom we have boldness and access with confidence through our faith in him. So I ask you not to lose heart over what I am suffering for you, which is your glory.
Ephesians 3:11-13 ESV
The Christian faith and life is both an invitation to a life of abundance and suffering in Jesus Christ.
When you read Ephesians 1, you will discover that Paul expressed the abundance of spiritual blessings in the heavenly realms that were available and given to him, the apostles and those who believed in Jesus Christ. However, as you go along in the reading you will notice that he wrote of being a prisoner of Jesus Christ for the sake of the Gentiles (3:1).
Paul understood that the abundance of blessings were God's grace to be lavished on others. It is God's eternal plan - predestined will, that the Church (Jews and Gentile) display His wisdom (i.e. salvation and life is found in Jesus Christ). This truth gave him great confidence and boldness to continue proclaiming the gospel despite the risk of being imprisoned. Suffering, therefore, was a burden he was willing to bear because it is the grace of God for both the Jews and Gentiles to be united with one another in the inheritance of Christ in Him. So, he encouraged the readers to "not lose heart over what I am suffering for you, which is your glory" (v.13).
Most of us have yet to understand the joy that Paul experienced for the sake of the Gospel. In fact, because he chose to be obedient to Christ in life and death, even to share in Christ's sufferings, we who are Gentiles have become recipients of the Gospel. His suffering has resulted in the spreading of the Gospel that brings life to the Gentile world. You and I are indeed the fruit of suffering.
You may know of people who are contending for the Gospel and are at risk of being imprisoned for Christ. Some are denied proper rights as citizens for the Gospel. Yet, they continue to persist in faith because of the confidence they have in Jesus Christ. Perhaps, you are going through a type of suffering because of your professed faith as a fellow disciple of Christ. Do not lose heart. You are in great company with Paul and the other apostles who have gone before you. For we know that Christ will be glorified through of sufferings.
As we consider the countless of godly men and women who have joyfully gave their lives for the Gospel for the sake of our salvation and eternal inheritance as God's people, may we also consider how we can continue the Christian tradition of evangelism - to include, invest and invite others into the family of God in Jesus Christ.
1. Let us pray for those who are suffering or experience hardships for the sake of the Gospel.
2. Let us pray for one another to be bold and confident in our faith as we proclaim the Gospel to others.
3. Let us pray for God to lead us to people who we can share His love and salvation with.
The Lord be with you. Amen.