Suffering for His Name Sake

Suffering for His Name Sake

Pastor Robert Zemke

This past Sunday, we learned in Acts 16 how Paul continued to experience success in ministry and opposition. This opposition culminated in being stripped of his clothes, beaten with rods, and sent to a maximum-security prison with his feet fastened in stocks. Yet late at night, Paul and Silas were still praising God. 

Most likely, we will not experience this kind of suffering, but scripture indicates that as Christians we will not be able to avoid some type of suffering. The bible tells of how Paul writes to the church in Philippi when they too are experiencing suffering, ‘For it has been granted to you that for the sake of Christ, you should not only believe in him but also suffer for his sake, engaged in the same conflict that you saw I had and now hear that I still have (Philippians 1:29-30). There is a connection between believing in Jesus and suffering for his sake. Jesus said, ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they would also persecute you (John 15:20). Jesus also said in the Beatitudes that His disciples would be blessed if they endured suffering for His name's sake (Matthew 5:10-12). The suffering, scripture references, is not suffering for a cause or agenda. If people who are not followers of Jesus are willing to suffer for the exact cause, then it is not a cause for his name's sake. 

Why does my Christian faith include suffering? Anyone we truly love requires sacrifice. We would sacrifice for or give our very lives for our kids. We know marriage is often challenging, and we are willing to sacrifice because of our love for our spouse. Do we love the Lord less than that? He died for all our sins, gave us new life, and filled us with the Holy Spirit. He is our eternal hope and will never let us down. A willingness to suffer for him reveals you love him. Paul also reminds us that we are to glory in our suffering in Romans: “Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.” (Romans 5:3-5).

Our love of God leads us to be willing to sacrifice and even suffer for him in small significant ways. Being known as a Christian in a particular situation may not be advantageous. Or speaking the truth in kindness and humility may not be received well by others. When we obey, we grow in our hope in Christ and continue to be filled with his love as his Holy Spirit is poured into our hearts.