January 26, 2014

Ashamed of Your Suffering?

Written by:
Rev (Dr) Prabhudas Koshy

In these days, Christians generally think that it is rather a shame for them to suffer affliction. They are often told by very popular, secular minded preachers that God would not let any of His children suffer. So they think that suffering Christians are an embarrassment to God’s name.

But the Apostle Peter exhorts us, “Yet if any man suffer as a Christian, let him not be ashamed; but let him glorify God on this behalf” (1 Peter 4:16).

Christians often have to endure the society’s rejection, ostracism, violence, and even official persecution The unbelieving world hates every genuine Christian. Jesus had forewarned, “And ye shall be hated of all men for my name’s sake: but he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved” (Mark 13:13; cf. Matthew 5:11; 10:22; 24:9; Philippians 1:29).

Should a Christian feel embarrassed or weakened or abandoned by the opposition and troubles he suffers? The verse for our meditation today tells us that the Christian who is afflicted has no reason whatsoever to be embarrassed, but has every reason to exult in God and praise Him.

All have troubles, but it makes a very great difference when one suffers for his faith in Christ. The man who bears sorrow for the Lord is an honourable man in the sight of God. He has no reason to be ashamed of his sufferings, because as a Christian his life is marked by devotion to Christ and His righteousness. He is not persecuted for the evil he has committed, but for the devotion to Christ that he exhibits.

Why is it that a Christian who suffers, should not be ashamed? Because his suffering proves that he is a lover of Christ, His truth and His righteousness. Because his suffering is not meted out for a crime that he has committed, but for doing Christ’s will. Because his suffering is inflicted on him not for a mean and damnable thing he has done, but for a nobler and blessed cause of exalting Christ, his Saviour.

Ironically, a genuine Christian often suffers for his actions, in spite of the purest motives that proceed from his love for the blessed Master. Nevertheless, in his suffering, he shall be the brightest of examples that others can imitate. So, the suffering Christian is exhorted to glorify God – “but let him glorify God on this behalf.” Even under suffering circumstances, a Christian’s duty is to glorify God (cf. John 21:18-19). He must rejoice and worship God, like Paul and Silas who sang and praised God in the Philippian jail (cf. Acts 16:22-25; 1 Peter 4:13). When the suffering Christian boldly clings onto his faith in His Saviour, and testifies of Him to those who ask about his faith, he glorifies God (cf. 1 Peter 3:15). He who remains faithful to God even in the midst of suffering, glorifies God (cf. 1 Peter 2:12; 4:14).

For your further meditation and encouragement in the midst of your afflictions, I list more relevant verses below:

1 Peter 3:17-18 “For it is better, if the will of God be so, that ye suffer for well doing, than for evil doing. For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit.”

1 Peter 4:19 “Wherefore let them that suffer according to the will of God commit the keeping of their souls to him in well doing, as unto a faithful Creator.”

Acts 5:41 “And they departed from the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for his name.”

Romans 5:2-5 “By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; And patience, experience; and experience, hope: And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us” (cf. James 1:2-4).

Philippians 1:29 “For unto you it is given in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for his sake.”

Hebrews 12:2-3 “Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God. For consider him that endured such contradiction of sinners against himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds.”

Hebrews 13:13 “Let us go forth therefore unto him without the camp, bearing his reproach.”

The Lord has been pleased to permit us to plan for the 8th Bible Witness Retreat. Dn Lok Kwok Wah is the coordinator of this retreat and he will be assisted by Bro John Peh. Dn Lok has secured Pulai Springs Resort, Johor, a very conducive and pleasant resort for our retreat. This was the venue of our very first Bible Witness Retreat, and we still have fond memories of that retreat.

I would like to exhort you to join this retreat. Bible Witness retreats have been a time of spiritual renewal and physical rest for many. You will have an excellent opportunity to be in the presence of God to hear His Word, and also to be in the company and fellowship of Christian brethren. If you are bringing children with you, they will have their own special programme conducted by Sis Carolyn Koshy.

The theme for the upcoming retreat “I Have Somewhat Against Thee” (Revelation 2:4). There is a great need for the members of the Lord’s church to know why He would say that He has somewhat against the church. Why would the Lord speak such severe and punitive words against the church? You should not miss this opportunity to hear why the Lord is so displeased with the church. You will also have an opportunity to meditate on Revelation 2:1-7 like you never had before. Don’t miss this opportunity. It is better to hear Him say “I have somewhat against thee” now, and not later at His coming. Now you have an opportunity to know and correct your errors. At His coming, it will be too late to amend your ways.

Sign up quickly. Your early registration would help us to plan and co-ordinate well. Moreover, there are only limited places.

Gethsemane Bible-Presbyterian Church adheres to the system of faith commonly known as the “Reformed Faith” as expressed in the Westminster Confession of Faith together with the Larger and Shorter Catechisms.
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