2 Timothy 3:12- “Yea, and all will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.”
Throughout this second epistle to Timothy Paul utilizes such phrases as “endure hardness,” “endure afflictions,” and in our text verse , “suffer persecution.” Paul portrays to young Timothy the truth that being in the ministry is not for the momma’s boy! Paul knew what it was to suffer and he reminds his understudy of his overwhelming opposition in verse 11 of this same chapter. Here Paul pens under inspiration of the Holy Spirit: “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.”
Today, in a world that clings to catch phrases such as, “that was easy,” the results of this just relax and run away from struggles mentality has infiltrated and infected young preachers in the ministry. Being a preacher, called by God, is the best thing a man can be! Better than being president, better than being a physician, but it is not easy. There are burdens the man of God must bear that other Christians never tote. There are storms the preacher must venture through that never appear on other believers’ radars, and battles that must be continually fought. Being in the ministry is like being in warfare. It is a constant contest between those who are lifting high the Blood stained banner and those who’d like to see it lowered. If one strives to live contrary to the world they should not expect to be congratulated by the world!
Vance Havner penned, “Christian persecution is not trouble in general. Everybody has that. Christian persecution is trouble that you get into that you would not have gotten into if you had not been a Christian.” Your family may question your calling. Your friends may forsake you. You may not live in the biggest house or have the finest amenities. People may shake their heads at your separated lifestyle. To follow Christ you must bear your cross. These things should not be seen as a burden but as a blessing!
Acts 5:41- “And they departed from the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for his name.”
Mark it down; when a man of God becomes consumed with a need for comfort that same man of God will someday, if not already be consumed by compromise! A truth I evidenced growing up in the hills of West Virginia is that choosing the path of least resistance creates crooked creeks; it will also create crooked Christians.
For the Timothy, the yearning and the temptation is always there to lay down the Bible and pick up a briefcase, to run from their calling and run to the cubicle. It would be easy at times to quit on Christ for comfort. Oh, but if only you turn your eyes upon Jesus and see His nail pierced hands! If you’ll visualize the smiling faces of souls gathered around God’s throne and returning prodigals embraced by family and friends all because you stayed on the firing line! If you’ll remember the moment you surrendered, the moment you yielded, the moment you said along side the prophet, “Here am I send me;” quitting will be canned, stopping with be snuffed out, and temporal comfort will pale in comparison with the joy of serving our eternal Christ!
The source of the preacher’s comfort is penned and portrayed in the writing of the unknown poet: “Christ my Saviour, Christ my friend; Christ my treasure without end; Christ when waves of sorrow roll; Christ, the comfort of my soul.”
Endure Afflictions, endure hardness, suffer persecution, stay in the fight, keep in the contest. Don’t trade your spiritual work boots for secular bunny slippers! Resolve with the songwriter, “The world behind me, the cross before me, no turning back,” and let Christ, the cross, the cleared out tomb, and your future consolation be your comfort!
Never forget that a trouble that often targets the Timothy is a yearning; for companionship, cash, and comfort!
Evangelist| Dr. Justin Cooper
Christian Growth Magazine | Managing Editor