“For this is thankworthy, if a man for conscience toward God endure grief, suffering wrongfully. For what glory is it, if, when ye be buffeted for your faults, ye shall take it patiently? but if, when ye do well, and suffer for it, ye take it patiently, this is acceptable with God.” (2 Tim. 2:19-20)
How many times have you done something you know you should not have done, and then hid it from others, more than you would like to recall? It is what could be considered normal behavior, I speak here to the sinful, natural man that still resides in all of us, and will continue to do so until we are glorified, for if any man say he sins not, he is a liar. (1 John 1:8) We hide our faults, for we do not want to be buffeted, we do not enjoy being reproved and rebuked, it brings with it shame, embarrassment, and other repercussions that do not lift us up not only in our own eyes, but in the eyes of others.
The life of the devoted servant of Christ can be filled with these reproaches, both heard, seen and unbeknownst to them, for those who are of this world love to mock those who are not, we are a reproach to them, and so the believer in Christ is sought after not so that the lost can hear of the mercies and grace of God, but so they may find something within us to gossip about, to ridicule us with, to buffet us with. Those things that we have done that are against the will of God we are accountable only to God for, but the lost will use these moments that come into our lives to inform us that we are not a “very good Christian,” that you should “live what you preach.” These are the occasions that Satan can, and will use to his greatest advantage, for there is no finer wine to him than a Christian who has fallen, especially when that fall comes in full view of the world. You do not need to go so far back in your mind to the televangelist of a few short decades ago, how they all tumbled down like dominoes, and how the world was saying, “see, you’re just like us, not so righteous now, are you?” It was a joy for the world to watch them fall one by one, and in this letter to you I will not linger on this particular subject, but what you must consider here is the ones that you are witnessing to in your daily walk, the lost to whom you represent Christ.
Here is where the apostles were adamant, when you do well, when you are performing the task diligently and with great humility that the Lord has placed before you, and you suffer for it, suffer patiently, rejoicing in the suffering (1 Peter 4:13) that will come upon you from those who hate the name of Jesus Christ, for it is acceptable to God. Here is where it is sad to say that many who profess Christ fail, and fail on a regular basis, for the rebukes of men cause them to falter in their work for the Lord, they fear the reproaches of men more than the commandments of God. This is one area of the born-again believers life, the one who serves Christ no matter the consequences, that the lost, and sadly the weaker brothers and sisters in Christ cannot begin to comprehend, that our service to the Lord is paramount, that the calling of His will for our lives takes precedence over every other aspect of it. To do well for the Lord, to be an obedient, willing servant of Christ, and to suffer patiently in that service is extremely pleasing in the eyes of God.
Our Lord does not need you to give reasons and rationalizations to anyone for what He has sent you to do, He wants you to obey, to perform the tasks that He has set before you diligently with integrity of forethought of who it is that you serve, there is no “if” you will suffer in this endeavor, it is virtually guaranteed, “Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.” (2 Tim. 3:12) We are well past the point here of being concerned with what other people will think of us, but how He views our service to Him, and contrary to the popular idea that has been floating around for the last four or five decades, there is a lot more to God than love. Never, ever think of the Lord God as some grandfatherly figure who just loves you no matter what, that is a deceitful lie of Satan, “If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not?” (Heb. 12:7) In other words my brothers and sisters, if you know that you are to be doing a particular work for the Lord, and you are negligent in that duty, He isn’t going to say “Oh, that’s alright, how about we try this instead,” you will be chastised, for what son is not chastised by a loving Father.
To do well and to suffer patiently for it means just that, well doing, works for the name of Jesus done through the power of the Holy Spirit that will many times bring suffering, not always of course, but you must realize this truth, many of the people who are not saved hate Christ, and when you bring His message to them, when you do well, they will hate you too, you will suffer because of Christ. Here is where the personal decision must be made, here is where the chaff is winnowed from the wheat, “If we suffer, we shall also reign with him: if we deny him, he also will deny us.” (2 Tim. 2:12) If you suffer in these times patiently, you will reign with him, if not, you will not. Very big “ifs.”
You will not be able to stand before Christ and give Him excuses in this area, they will not be listened to, the words of God are more than clear in this area, He will deny you. I can think of no greater sorrows and shame for the born-again believer than to stand in the presence of Christ and have Him inform you that He loves you, but you were useless to His works here on earth, that you served no eternal purpose for His kingdom. The doors of heaven will be opened unto those poor souls, but they will walk in with their heads down in shame, and great tears flowing down their faces. He whom we serve is the only One worth serving, He alone is worthy, righteous and true.
Look upon yourself here and read Heb. 12:8, “But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons.” Do you know the chastisement of the Lord God? Good, then we will meet in glory, if not, then this is a good time for me to stop writing, and for you to start praying.