“Share in suffering as a good soldier”
“Share in suffering as a good soldier of Christ Jesus.” 2 Timothy 2:3
Very soon I will report in, and so will you. “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil” (2 Corinthians 5:10). This judgment is not one of condemnation but of review, assessment and reward: “Then each one will receive his commendation from God” (1 Corinthians 4:5). Our Lord will be kind, but he will not flatter. He will tell us plainly what he thinks of how we lived for him moment by moment in this life. Therefore, all that matters now is what he will say to us then, when “each of us will give an account of himself to God” (Romans 14:12).
For a Christian, what matters most is not what people say about us, what people do to us. We should lovingly please everyone, for Jesus’ sake, as generously as we can (1 Corinthians 10:32-33). But for us Christians, what matters most is what Christ thinks. If we do suffer from human rejection — well, we’d rather not. But it’s no crisis, as long as we are living for the Lord, according to his Word, by his power, for his glory alone. Indeed, our Lord puts his blessing on those who take a hit for him: “Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you” (Matthew 5:11-12). Would we want prophet-killing people to like us? They didn’t like our Savior.
I don’t know how I’m going to die, obviously. And I have no right to decide that for myself. My life and death are in the Lord’s hands entirely, as is right. But I don’t want to die comfortably in a hospital bed. If that is God’s plan for me, okay. I will trust him and accept it. But I’d rather die “on the street.” Again, it’s the Lord alone who makes that call. Fanaticism is not of faith, and “whatever does not proceed from faith is sin” (Romans 14:23). But how could I not desire, quietly and calmly, to die for him, even as he died for me? After all, the One before whom I will soon stand still bears his scars. Could I be happy standing there with no scars of my own? Or can’t I at least get arrested? Again, it’s all up to the Lord. And it would be wrong to assert myself by picking a fight. The humbling truth is, I don’t deserve the honor of suffering for him. But I would rejoice in it (Acts 5:41). My part is simply to trust him and obey him, as best I can, undaunted by human disapproval, and let events take their course.
But sharing in suffering as a good soldier of Christ Jesus is wonderful to me, because he is. I know you feel the same way.
This post was originally published on The Gospel Coalition