1 Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, 2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. 3 Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. — Hebrews 12:1-3 NIV
We are so blessed to live in a country where we can still worship as we are led by the Holy Spirit. We don’t have to be concerned about being persecuted for our beliefs. We try to avoid those situations where witnessing for Jesus might embarrass us much less those where we might be physically abused. But, we are living in an age right now where Christians are being beaten and imprisoned for their loyalty and obedience to Jesus. We need to prepare ourselves for those times even here in our own country. Our Savior and Lord, the prophets, the apostles and all of those that have gone before us suffered very much. We are not better than our Creator, so we should expect to suffer as well. There are over one-hundred scriptures in the Bible that speak about rejoicing in the sufferings. We are to “count it all joy”.
2 My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, 3 knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. 4 But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing. — James 1:2-4 NKJV
Will it be easy to suffer for Jesus? No, but God does send His angels to strengthen us, just as He did for His Son.
42 saying, “Father, if it is Your will, take this cup away from Me; nevertheless not My will, but Yours, be done.” 43 Then an angel appeared to Him from heaven, strengthening Him.– Luke 22:42, 43 NIV
27 Some of the governor’s soldiers took Jesus into their headquarters and called out the entire regiment. 28 They stripped him and put a scarlet robe on him. 29 They wove thorn branches into a crown and put it on his head, and they placed a reed stick in his right hand as a scepter. Then they knelt before him in mockery and taunted, “Hail! King of the Jews!”30 And they spit on him and grabbed the stick and struck him on the head with it. 31 When they were finally tired of mocking him, they took off the robe and put his own clothes on him again. Then they led him away to be crucified.–Matt. 27:27-31 (NLT)
God is waiting to show you the way.
God’s heart must have been broken to see His Son treated with such disrespect and cruelty. As we read these verses, our hearts break and a burning anger starts to well up inside of us. How could they treat our Lord and Savior in such a manner as this? But, then, as we meditate on these verses, we must ask ourselves this question: How can we treat our Lord and Savior this way? When we show ingratitude, we are spitting in God’s face. When we taunt and mock others for any reason, we are taunting and mocking God’s creation and thus we are mocking God. When we see needy people and it is in our power to help them and we don’t, we are leaving Jesus naked. We would be showing less cruelty to beat someone with a stick than to destroy them with our words. When we verbally or physically abuse others, we are placing a crown of thorns on the head of Jesus. How can I treat my Savior like this?
1 Corinthians 10: 23-31 (NLT) 23 “I have the right to do anything,” you say—but not everything is beneficial. “I have the right to do anything”—but not everything is constructive. 24 No one should seek their own good, but the good of others. 25 Eat anything sold in the meat market without raising questions of conscience, 26 for, “The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it.” 27 If an unbeliever invites you to a meal and you want to go, eat whatever is put before you without raising questions of conscience. 28 But if someone says to you, “This has been offered in sacrifice,” then do not eat it, both for the sake of the one who told you and for the sake of conscience. 29 I am referring to the other person’s conscience, not yours. For why is my freedom being judged by another’s conscience? 30 If I take part in the meal with thankfulness, why am I denounced because of something I thank God for?
God is waiting to show you the way.
31 So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.
(NLT) John 8:36 So if the Son sets you free, you are truly free.
When we accept Jesus as our Lord and Savior, we experience a freedom of Spirit and liberty that we have never known before. As sinners, we were slaves to our flesh and satan’s demands. Now, we truly have a freedom to make choices to obey or disobey God. We are to follow after the example of Jesus in our new lifestyle. We are not, however, to use our liberty to hurt or abuse others in any way. We use should our freedom and our free gifts from God to draw others to Christ. Paul says not to use our liberties to cause a weaker brother or sister to stumble. Let the fruits of God’s Holy Spirit be abundant in your life. Against love, peace, joy, and patience, there is no law. Walk graciously and humbly before our Lord.