Wednesday, June 22
We need to take note of Paul’s attitude toward his suffering. He said “I rejoice in my sufferings.” I don’t think he enjoyed them. I can’t imagine him thinking “Oh boy, I get to go to jail now. I’m really looking forward to being beaten half to death.” Although he embraced persecution, he didn’t take action to avoid it. It would be like a mother giving birth to a baby. If you were to look at a mother and babe right after the birth, you would know that what she endured was worth it. Her face would be aglow with the joy of that precious little life in her arms. In like manner, the afflictions Paul and his co-workers had endured turned into joy when people believed and were born into God’s family. Paul did not call attention to his afflictions to induce sympathy, pity, or accolades. These first generation Christians in Corinth were enduring persecution, too. Part of Paul’s role modeling was to teach the Colossian believers that their persecution had a purpose, too, and they needed to accept it joyfully as a witness to their own people. Paul’s instructions to Timothy in 2 Tim. 2:2 reflects this principle. “What you have heard from me before many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.” That is still the policy of most mission organizations today, and should be the policy of all our local churches. I hope that we will also hang onto the truth that suffering is required and that it should be accepted joyfully.