Philippiansby David Sanford
Now that the Philippians have received salvation, they, like Paul, are suffering for Jesus Christ. In response, the apostle offers a number of heavenly-minded insights. His aim is to encourage them to keep persevering in their faith.
If you are experiencing suffering in your life, what Paul says in today's two brief but powerful verses will encourage you and help bring healing. If not, what Paul says will prepare you. Let's look at the insights Paul offers about suffering for Jesus Christ.
Paul points out that suffering ″has been granted to you″ (Philippians 1:29) by God from eternity past. Our suffering in this life never takes God by surprise; we have the privilege of identifying with our Lord and Saviour (Acts 9:16; 14:22; Philippians 3:8-10; 1 Thessalonians 3:3; 1 Peter 2:21).
Paul says that such suffering is ″on behalf of Christ″ (Philippians 1:29) and is for His glory, honour, and praise. Our suffering for Christ on earth, whether due to opposition or persecution-for example, when we face derision for praying in public or saying ″Merry Christmas″-always has a divine purpose (Romans 5:3-5; James 1:2-4; 1 Peter 1:6-9; 4:16).
″Not only to believe in him, but also to suffer for him″ (Philippians 1:29). When we put our faith in Jesus Christ, we are saved now and for eternity. Our suffering on earth is real but temporary. Our future joy is even more real because it is eternal (Romans 8:28-30; 2 Corinthians 1:9; 4:16-18; 1 Peter 4:12-14). Both now and later, our suffering for Jesus Christ is always for something-for the Lord's sake (Isaiah 48:10; Ephesians 5:26-27; Titus 2:14).
Paul reassures his readers that they are not alone in undergoing trials-it is ″the same struggle you saw I had, and now hear that I still have″ (Philippians 1:30). Our suffering is no different from what others have faced (Deuteronomy 8:5; Proverbs 3:11-12; Hebrews 12:6-11; 1 Peter 5:1); no one is exempt. Our suffering, however, is eased by the godly example of others (2 Corinthians 1:3-7; 12:8-10; Hebrews 11:32-40; 12:1; James 5:10-11; 1 Peter 5:9). In addition, our steadfastness in the face of suffering displays the truth of our redemption to a watching world (John 9:3; 11:4; 1 Peter 2:11-12; 3:13-15).
How can Paul's insights about suffering for Jesus Christ help you face suffering differently?
Consider the examples of Christ (Hebrews 12:3-4) and Paul. How can you be an example to others too?