Paul gave us a model of suffering, not just the unbelievable physical things he endured to get the gospel preached in places and to peoples who had not heard, but he endured suffering for the sake of making sure the churches that had been planted were not seduced by a false gospel.
Notice how he refers to this type of suffering to the Colossian believers; “Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I am filling up what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions for the sake of His body, that is, the church” (Colossians 1:24). Paul did not shy away from both suffering for the maturity and unity of the Church, but he also did not hide from them what he suffered for their sake.
This was a very unique feature in Paul. He did not share with them the facts of his sufferings just to get sympathy, like some do, but so they would clearly understand how important the truth of the gospel is and how they must be single-minded in that truth.
This was the same principle Paul used with the Corinthian church. It was a point of suffering for Paul that he had to speak so boldly to them about the lack of dealing with sin in the church. He was rewarded for that suffering; “I am acting with great boldness toward you; I have great pride in you; I am filled with comfort. In all our affliction, I am overflowing with joy” (2 Corinthians 7:4). The question for us is whether we will suffer so others are established, or will we draw back and see them become weak in faith and fruitless in their work?
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