Saturday, January 29, 2011

Worthy of Suffering

"The apostles left the Sanhedrin rejoicing because they had been counted worthy of suffering; disgrace for the Name." Acts 5:41

God's Word says that I am blessed when I am persecuted for righteousness. Blessed when I am insulted or falsely accused for His name's sake. And in these things He says I can rejoice because great will be my reward in Heaven, for in the same way the prophets before me were persecuted. (Matthew 5:10-12)

Peter and John were persecuted apostles. In Acts 5, the apostles stood firm in their faith saying, "We must obey God rather than men" (verse 29) after being told not to talk about Jesus. Instead of closing their mouths and heeding the warning of the Sanhedrin, they continued to boldly proclaim the Gospel. Once word of this reached the officials, they were brought in and flogged. And when the Bible refers to a flogging, they were beaten half to death! (A flogging was the infliction of 39 lashes in a public setting.)

Yet in spite of their beating, they went away rejoicing - an expression of joy and gladness. Barnes' Notes on the Bible says, "Nothing to most people would seem more disgraceful than a public whipping." An act not so much about the pain it caused, but the disgrace. After being publicly humiliated, how could they possibly rejoice in the matter? Barnes' Notes go on to imply it was because they were chosen to imitate Christ. "They were glad that they were permitted to be treated as He was." God's Word says, "Rejoice that you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when His glory is revealed. If you are insulted because of the name of Christ, you are blessed, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you." (1 Peter 4:13-14)

To suffer for Christ's name, by whatever means, should be counted all joy because I was considered by God to be worthy, or fit for, such suffering. And just as Peter and John did, I should go on "proclaiming the Good News that Jesus is the Christ." (Acts 5:42)

Father, whatever my circumstance, I ask You to help me to count it all joy when I suffer for Your name's sake. In Jesus' name, amen.

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