The privilege of suffering for Christ’s sake
I’m torn between two desires: I long to go and be with Christ, which would be far better for me. But for your sakes, it is better that I continue to live. Knowing this, I am convinced that I will remain alive so I can continue to help all of you grow and experience the joy of your faith. And when I come to you again, you will have even more reason to take pride in Christ Jesus because of what he is doing through me... For you have been given not only the privilege of trusting in Christ but also the privilege of suffering for him. We are in this struggle together. You have seen my struggle in the past, and you know that I am still in the midst of it. Philippians 1:23-26; 29-30
When we hear somebody says he or she is “torn apart” we equate such with being unhappy. From the text, Paul is a torn man because of two desires but he is not an unhappy man. He is torn because, on one hand, he wants to continue his ministry, and, on the other hand, he wants to be with Christ. But because of these two desires, he knows he will not be the loser in either case. If he dies while imprisoned or because of his faith, it will be for the cause of Christ and he knows such life was not a waste for it will bring honor and glory to His name. If he is released, he can continue to promote the cause of Christ. In either case, Christ will be magnified (v. 20). Such fortitude is a result of a Christ-centered life. Though he is in a difficult predicament, he is not losing sight of what matters. If all our life is all about living for Christ, we will be joyful and at peace with whatever Christ decides. After he expressed the source of his joy, he challenged the believers in Philippi to join him in contending for the faith. The enemy will be ferocious to impede the expansion of God’s kingdom. He will not stop until faithful followers are beaten down and will have no desire to stand-up for their faith. Yet, Paul admonished believers to stand firm and continue to trust in Christ and count it a “privilege suffering for Him.” Suffering for Christ’s sake is never pleasant but it is an opportunity and an honor to suffer for Christ for He himself suffered so we can have the salvation we did not deserve and earned.