“Ye have not yet resisted unto blood, striving against sin.” (Heb. 12:4) Very few Christians, at least those in the “developed countries” in my opinion, have not suffered unto embarrassment, much less the fulfilling of this verse. Being a martyr today seems to mean being ridiculed, laughed at or made fun of because of our faith, not beaten, tortured and imprisoned, and far too many are now holding their tongues for fear of this ridicule. Were you aware that many of your brothers and sisters in ‘third world’ countries are praying for those in the United States to be blessed with trials, tribulations and troubles? While they pray for our Lord to bless them with burdens, we pray for more vacation time.
Now of course, I am not speaking of everyone I meet, for it is very unwise to speak in absolutes about anything but the Scriptures, and it may well be that someone you know, or perhaps even you yourself, understand full well what it means to rejoice in sufferings, for you know they are for the glory of God (1st Peter 4:13) Yet how rare this seems to be today, and how petty many of the ‘trials and tribulations’ seem to really be that are expressed. A product at the grocery store that you enjoyed, but is now discontinued, bills that seem to keep coming in, that you brought upon yourself, that new person in the church who just doesn’t understand how we do things around here. Pain and suffering now seems to revolve around “I can’t have what I want” instead of the trials and tribulations that God allows and sends into our heart, flesh and soul, for these are seen as an unwanted discipline that we should not have to bear.
Christ despised the shame of the cross for the joy that was set before Him. (Heb. 12:2) Did He desire a different way, yes (Matt. 26:39) did He accept it when it was in the Fathers will for Him to drink of this cup, yes. Do not think that the pain of the Cross of Christ was the reason that our Lord made this request, nor the shame that He was going to endure, for though He was in human flesh and knew that it would be a torment, a pain indescribable, that was not the reason He asked this request of His Father. For what brought Him to his knees in fervent prayer, what made drops of blood flow from His wonderful face as he prayed, was the knowledge that He was going to be separated from the Father for a period of time, that God was going to turn His back on Him. Until we spend great quantities of time on this revelation, we will never understand what it means to suffer unto blood, and embarrassment will be a constant friend of ours, fear of what others may think of us if we proclaim with our mouths the wonderful grace and mercy that He extends to all will reside within the very walls of our hearts.
There are those that seem to be overly concerned with offending those they speak to when addressing the issues of the Word of God, forgetting not only that they are to “go and make disciples” (Matt. 28:19) but that the Word of God can, and will be, offensive to many. Truth always is, and the only real truth lies within the Scriptures. Speak truth in love always, and always firmly. Do not be dissuaded by those who profess to know a truth that cannot be verified in the Word of God, nor those that ‘pick and choose’ versus that fit their desired ends. (2nd Peter 1:20)
We forsake speaking to them sometimes for fear of possibly losing a friend or relationship, placing our unease of looking ‘to religious’ in front of our commanded duty. The fear of being ostracized by them or bringing personal shame upon ourselves overrides, whether we like to admit it or not, our love for our Lord, and it grieves His heart when we do so. There is great shame in putting anyone or anything in front of Jesus, but especially if that someone is ourselves, if the feelings and thoughts others will have about us if we breach the subject of the name of our Savior to their ears, becomes more important than Him.
Truth be told, this has happened to every one of us at one time or another, but if it seems to be a reoccurring, continuing way of life, it may be necessary to re-evaluate whether or not you are truly saved. (Luke 12:9)
It may seem easier for some to believe that they are to be examples only to others, never professing His wonderful name and works with words from their lips. For these feel sorry, for though they may be saved, they will never know the wonderous joy of speaking the truth of God’s Word to others. I will name no names of men of the past, but there have been many that have walked this world whom men would call ‘good’ men, philanthropist, givers of large sums of money and time, individuals that seemed to always place others above themselves, yet never once professed the name of Christ in their lives. If you believe you can be an example only and never tell others the reason for your joy, you are mistaken, disciples are not made with examples only, but with both examples and words. (James 2:18) Words are works. People have to follow you to emulate your example, and your example is to always to be Christ-like. (Rom 10:14)
Those who continue to be too embarrassed to speak to others about our Lord will never know the rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for His name, (Acts 5:41) but they will know the shame of being left out, as it were, from the incredible blessings that Christ has for those who are willing to stand up for His name, willing to suffer persecution in no matter what form He allows. Remember the shame of the cross that He bore for you, despise within yourself the times you have been ashamed of Him, ask forgiveness from Him for these times of a lack of faith, pray fervently for strength to proclaim His name boldly to all you meet.
To suffer for the Glory of God means not only desiring to wear a robe of incredible white, but one of scarlet contempt and shame.