“Do not fear what you are about to suffer. Behold, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested, and for ten days you will have tribulation. Be faithful unto death, and I will give you the crown of life” (Revelation 2:10).
· Point #1: “Do not fear what you are about to suffer.” Jesus says this based on who He is. Every Christian who has ever suffered since the Church began has done so because they knew their Savior personally. If you do not know Him, there is nothing in your experience or your relationships that gives you confidence in your faith. It is not that suffering is easy, but because the Savior you know is worth the suffering you are going through so He is seen in your life.
· Point #2: Jesus did not promise the suffering would soon end. In fact, He promised it would get worse; “the devil is about to throw some of you into prison.” I doubt any of us in the West are ready for this. For them it was real, just as it was for Polycarp. Remember, prison is not the problem. The problem we have today is what we stand for. The goal of Satan is that we become wishy washy about our faith and the truth of the Bible. What he wants is that we will not take a stand against abortion, or for marriage between a man and a woman, or that God created us male and female for a reason – HIS GLORY! If we are willing to compromise, the world will applaud us and want to be our friends. John says, “If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him” (1 John 2:15).
· Point #3: We are being tested by suffering. What is your faith made of? Paul makes this point very clear to the Corinthians. “Now if anyone builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw— each one’s work will become manifest, for the Day will disclose it, because it will be revealed by fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each one has done” (1 Corinthians 3:12–13). It may be that God is allowing some of you to be tested by a fiery trial to see what you have built your life on and whether Jesus Christ is really your foundation.
· Point #4: For those who will be faithful to the Lord Jesus, He promises that the trial will have a limit, ten days. For a suffering believer or a church, this is comforting news. I know personally how good it was to know that my stays in the hospital would only be a few days. But this is different. Hospital stays are because our bodies wear out and fall apart. Visits to a prison for being true to Jesus is suffering of a different nature. Let me warn you that the world hates our Savior, and if we remain faithful to Him, we also will suffer for Him.
Jesus ends this outline of what is going to happen by giving another challenge. “Be faithful unto death, and I will give you the crown of life.” Death for those who love Jesus is not the end! Smyrna knew Jesus was worth the suffering, even if it meant death because they would receive an eternal reward, “the crown of life.” You will too, ONLY IF YOU KNOW HIM AND LOVE HIM!
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