For to you it is given in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for his sake;…
It is said that men learned to despise pain before Christ. This is true. But where, save in Christian literature and history, do you find suffering converted into joy, esteemed as an honour, and borne as a badge of royalty. As a king grants charters and honours, so Christ as our Sovereign gives His disciples the privilege of faith and alliance to Him. And he still further honours them by permitting them to suffer on His behalf. Let us see what kind of sufferings are included in this charter.
I. ALL INFLICTED DIRECTLY FOR OUR ADHESION TO THE NAME AND WORSHIP OF CHRIST. Physical persecution, social, domestic.
II. ALL ARISING FROM THE EFFECTUAL PREACHING OF TRUTH, whether by ministers or private disciples. We are not to count the suffering which comes from our own headstrong rashness in speech or administration, but that which comes from a calm inflexible advocacy of the truth as it is in Jesus. For this it is an honour to suffer.
III. ALL WHICH ARISES FROM THE APPLICATION OF CHRISTIAN TRUTH to human disposition and conduct, to the manners of society, to the selfishness and injustice of men. Labourers in this harvest field will have their bosom full of sheaves, and their head crowned with thorns. Let a man have a conscience, and he will perforce find himself a warrior. What affinity is there between generosity and greed.
IV. ALL SUFFERING NOT OF THE NATURE OF OBLOQUY. All self-denials, watchings, labours, cares, weariness, incident to a life devoted to the cause of God. Those whose parish is the dungeon, the hospital, the purlieus of vice.
V. ALL CONSEQUENT UPON A STRIFE WITH SELF AND CIRCUMSTANCES for the purpose of augmenting Christian dispositions. Our internal conflicts are often greater than our external. What suffering is involved in our strife with the world, the flesh, and the devil; in our endeavour to be patient under sickness and misfortune, resigned in the midst of sorrows and bereavement.
VI. ALL ARISING FROM THE SERVICE WE PERFORM ON BEHALF OF OTHERS. Mothers with their children in hearing and up-bringing, friends, philanthropists. Conclusion: I remark in view of this exposition —
1. We are not to seek suffering on purpose. Suffering without moral impulse is of no account.
2. It is a shame for a man to entertain an ideal of Christian life which is ease and freedom from inconvenience.
3. All true education consists in preparation for and endurance of suffering Let parents see to this.
4. We may form a proper judgment of those who are called to labour for God Those prepared to regard suffering as an honour, and to count the victory as worth any price.
(H. W. Beecher.)
Parallel VersesKJV: For unto you it is given in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for his sake;