But whatever happens to me, you must live in a manner worthy of the Good News about Christ, as citizens of heaven. Then, whether I come and see you again or only hear about you, I will know that you are standing side by side, fighting together for the Good News. Don’t be intimidated by your enemies. This will be a sign to them that they are going to be destroyed, but that you are going to be saved, even by God himself.
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 fight together. You have seen me suffer for Him in the past, and you know that I am still in the midst of this great struggle. ~Philippians 1:27-30
I began studying the scripture in-depth in my twenties. I had just taken a leave of absence from teaching due to illness, and was frustrated with my new job as a secretary. My pastor asked how he could be a blessing to me (great question from a servant-leader) and I let him know I wanted to find a Precept class. Did he know of any in the area? We were recent transplants.
He said he didn’t but would love for our church to start one. Would I be willing to lead? You must know, at that point in time, I had only spoken a couple of times in front of a group of peers. My target audience was always under the age of twelve. But…with the offer to pay for leadership training, and the encouragement from a caring pastor, I said I’d give it a shot.
His spurring me toward “good works” and study of the Word, led to ten years of Precept Bible Studies. I count it a huge privilege that God allowed me to enjoy those years of study and leading. He has been good to me.
All of that to say, why did I highlight those phrases in the passage above?
Well, you see, Philippians was the first course I taught and those two phrases have been planted in my mind and heart for over twenty years now. Those two phrases, I believe, are God-given words to me. Prophetic words for my life. Words God planted in my heart to get me through the coming years. I believe that with my whole being.
One is a command: You must live in a manner worthy of the Good News about Christ.
The second is a prophecy: …but also the privilege of suffering for Him…
To walk in a manner worthy of the gospel…”If you love Me, you will keep My commandments.” It’s as simple as that. Love of Christ will lead to love of His ways. To love Christ means to follow Him in all aspects of our lives.
“Walk worthy, Michelle.” Those words have caused me to think clearly through many choices in this life.
And for me, “it has been granted to you to suffer for Him” (NASB) has allowed me to know the path I’m on is a privilege.
Some see it as a burden, this life of difficulty in the flesh. And I must say, somedays I agree. However, God’s Word says it is a privilege to live with suffering.
The gift of suffering allows us to know Jesus better. He was a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. It is possible to get a glimpse of His suffering as we experience our own and then to more fully understand the joys of the life to come.
It really isn’t all about now. He is doing an eternal work in us. One we won’t see this side of a New Heaven and New Earth.
His path for me has not been easy. But, is it ever easy for a soldier,…an athlete,…a runner to go through training?
The gift of suffering.
It is a privilege.
God’s Word says so.