When we think of suffering for Christ, often our focus concentrates on the pain and loss side of what we are going through. Perhaps we need to look again at Paul as our model. While many saints have suffered excruciating and lengthy periods of torment, only to end in death, Paul gives us a perspective that I rarely think about. It sprang from his intense longing to know Christ more.
“Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For His sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ…that I may know him and the power of His resurrection, and may share His sufferings, becoming like Him in his death” (Philippians 3:8, 10).
I see four points in Paul’s statement that we should imitate in our walk here for Christ:
1. Always want to know more of Christ. Everything else has no value.
2. What we have gained in this life is rubbish compared to becoming more like Christ.
3. Knowing the power of resurrection working in us enables us to suffer in whatever way we are called on to suffer with Christ.
4. Sharing is Christ’s suffering-– even in death is fellowship with Jesus in what He did for us.
Hudson Taylor said, “Fruit-bearing involves cross-bearing.” Perhaps the death of Stephen in Acts 7 was engraved on Paul’s mind. He died seeing the glory of Christ. That is a special fellowship!
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