WHY MINISTERS & BELIEVERS SUFFER Part 1
Pastor Wole Gbogboade
Text: 2 Tim. 2:8-12
The word “suffer” means to experience physical or mental pain according to Cambridge dictionary.
When a Christian suffers, it has different connotation: Though, there could still be physical or mental pain, in addition, there can be spiritual, emotional or financial pain.
But, the source and reason for suffering could also be just or unjust as a result of injustice against one just because of your faith:
1- Suffering therefore can come as a result of persecution which we experience because of our faith Acts 9:15-16, 1Pet. 4:12-19
2- There is also baptism of suffering or affliction. Phil. 3:10; 1Pet. 4:15; 2Cor.12:7-10, 1Pet. 3:18-22.
3- We also suffer hardship as Christian Soldiers in the course of training. 2Tim. 2:3, 2Tim.2:12. This is meant to build us up and make us strong preparing us for maturity and vineyard work which always come with fatigue yet, His grace is sufficient.
4- Of course there can be suffering as a result of sin. 1Pet.3:17.
What causes suffering for minister does not differ considerably from what causes suffering for Christians generally. How it affects Christians generally is the same way it affects Ministers. Sin is sin and it has negative effect on all. Let us remember that a Minister is primarily a believer. It then follows that certain principles need to be understood and adhere to in our walk with God.
1- Suffering as a result of persecution: The Lord specifically told the Disciples,
“Remember the word that I said unto you, the servant is not greater than his lord. If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you; if they have kept my saying, they will keep yours also.” John 15:20.
Persecution is unavoidable for Christians who hold on to their faith. It reminds us to fight the good fight of faith; it builds us in the faith. If our faith is not tested, how can we overcome? If we don’t contend for the faith, how can we ever triumph? 2Tim. 4:7-8, Jude 4. However, we are confident of the Lord’s promised reward when we overcome as Paul rightly said. Rev. 2:7, 11, 17, 26; Rev. 3:5, 12, 21; Rev 21:7.
We face persecution as the Church or Body of Jesus Christ and as individual growing Christian who need to stand on their faith by following the word to be strong.
“Everyone who wants to live a godly life in union with Christ Jesus will be persecuted.” 2Tim. 3:12. Ref. Acts 8:1; Acts 11:19 & 13:50; Matt. 13:21.
There is also a choice we have to make to be followers of Christ: Nothing should mean any thing to us other than Him. This is not an easy choice either. Jesus is our example:
“Then came to him his mother and his brethren, and could not come at him for the press. And it was told him by certain which said, Thy mother and thy brethren stand without, desiring to see thee. And he answered and said unto them, My mother and my brethren are these which hear the word of God, and do it.” Luke 8:19-21
The Lord also has set this standard for His disciples and clearly spelt out the blessings of putting God first in our lives which comes hundred fold here on earth and in eternity.
And Jesus answered and said,
“Verily I say unto you, There is no man that hath left house, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my sake, and the gospel’s, But he shall receive an hundredfold now in this time, houses, and brethren, and sisters, and mothers, and children, and lands, with persecutions; and in the world to come eternal life.” Mark 10:29-30
He didn’t say we should avoid our relations instead; we should not be tied down from putting God first. We should obey God and serve Him; we should be willing to leave the comfort zone of our family to go serve God wherever He sends us whether they like it for us or not. Acts 5:29. This sometimes is not easy but His grace in our lives enables us to obey Him first and promptly irrespective of whose ox is gored.
Peter in His first epistle encourages Christians to bear persecution as those who persecute us might through our godly virtues appreciate our lives and more so when they come to Christ hopefully.
“I appeal to you, my friends, as strangers and refugees in this world! Do not give in to bodily passions, which are always at war against the soul. Your conduct among the heathen should be so good that when they accuse you of being evildoers, they will have to recognize your good deeds and so praise God on the Day of his coming.” 1Peter 2:11-12 (GNB)
Paul came to a conclusion in the heat of his persecution when he said:
“I rejoice because I eagerly expect and hope that I will have nothing to be ashamed of, because through my boldness the Messiah will be exalted through me, now as always, whether I live or die. For to me, to go on living is the Messiah, and to die is gain.” Phil. 1:20-21
Bible records this for the apostles:
“They won the victory over him by the blood of the Lamb and by the truth which they proclaimed; and they were willing to give up their lives and die.” Rev. 12:11
2- Baptism of suffering: There are four types of baptisms believers must go through: 1- Water baptism (by immersion) Matt.3:7
2- Holy Ghost Baptism 3- Fire Baptism Matt. 3:11.
4- Baptism of suffering. Mark 10:38-39. Phil.3:10-11.
“Many are the afflictions of the righteous: but the LORD delivereth him out of them all.” Ps. 34:19
The Lord said, when you pass through fire I’ll be with you. Yes, He was with Shedrack, Meshach and Abednego in the furnace of fire. But, you will agree with me that fire is not a palatable experience. Yet, His grace will see us through. This could come in form of persecution or obnoxious laws aimed at punishing Believers because of their faith. It can also come as temptation or trial of faith. James 1:4-5. God allow it both to test our faithfulness and to strengthen us in our journey of faith.
Some ministers/believers have died as martyrs of the faith; some were incarcerated but, thank God for those who never denied the faith despite harrowing death and other hash treatment meted to these heroes of faith. Heb.11:36-38; 2Cor. 6:3-10; 2Cor. 4:8-13; 1Cor. 15:30-32.
3- Christian Ministers also suffer hardship as Soldiers of Christ. 2Tim 2:3. The Lord said, “He that endures to the end, the same shall be saved.” Matt. 24:13, 2Pet. 2:19. When we keep our conscience clear towards God and endure wrong done to us or grief caused us for the sake of our faith, it help us to develop fruit of the Spirit. Its part of the price we pay to be a Disciple of Christ.
Bob Gass said, “God builds a solid foundation in our lives in order for us to be able to handle the pressure that accompany His blessings.” In other words, God prepares us for what He has already prepared for us through His word, prayer, chastisement, trials of faith or test of faith, hardship etc to make us of a sterner stuff unbeatable to the devil. Hence, we can go through the storm of life at home or in the field without being shaken. Phil. 4:12. Even with joy because the inner man is rejoicing that we are partakers of the fellowship of suffering.
“As the apostles left the Council, they were happy, because God had considered them worthy to suffer disgrace for the sake of Jesus.” Acts 5:41
That no man should be moved by these afflictions: for yourselves know that we are appointed thereunto. For verily, when we were with you, we told you before that we should suffer tribulation; even as it came to pass, and ye know.” 1Thess.3:3-4. Acts 14:21-22.
However, God is always faithful to meet the needs of His servants. Some say they suffer lack, I believe if we are doing what God asked us to do in the place He sent us and the way He asked us to do it, we will not lack.
“I have been young, and now I’m old; yet have not seen the righteous forsaken, nor His seed begging bread.” Ps. 37:25
Even in the wilderness, God was meeting the need of His people by His miraculous hands. God is ever so faithful.
4- Suffer for wrong doing: This is when a Christian Minister violates spiritual principle 2- disobey God’s word or God’s instruction 3- Carnality or faithlessness.
When Jonah was sent to Nineveh but, in disobedience he went to Tarshish, he had to pay his fare. In addition, he almost suffered a ship wreck. Of course, his presence caused a lot of trouble for all the people in the ship. They had to lighten the ship by throwing their valuable goods into the Sea not to talk of the grief they suffered as a result of the storm. May you not sail with a Jonah in the same ship.
Jehoshaphat nearly lost his life again when he went to the battle in the company of Ahab. 1King 22:29-33.
God sank the ships of Tharshish Jehoshaphat made to sail to Orphir to bring gold. 1King 22:48-49. It’s not just a good business but what is the motive? Even if the motive was right, is it God that asked him to do it? Again, what did he want to do with the proceeds?
“Woe to the rebellious children, saith the LORD, that take counsel, but not of me; and that cover with a covering, but not of my spirit, that they may add sin to sin: That walk to go down into Egypt, and have not asked at my mouth; to strengthen themselves in the strength of Pharaoh, and to trust in the shadow of Egypt!” Isa. 30:1-2
Apart from disobedience, wrong association can make Christian Ministers to suffer.
When Jehoshaphat made alliance with Ahab who had positioned himself as enemy of God, he suffered. The same thing happened to his father Asa who made alliance with the king of Syria. 2Chro. 16:7. When he was sick, he sought not the Lord first but physician. 2Chro.16:12.
Unholy alliance can cause a lot of damage to our relationship with God thereby bring suffering.
“And Jehu the son of Hanani the seer went out to meet him, and said to king Jehoshaphat, Shouldest thou help the ungodly, and love them that hate the LORD? Therefore is wrath upon thee from before the LORD.” 2Chro. 19:2.
A Minister can position himself against God and lose credibility when he’s wrongly aligned and begin to consent to evil that men do because of their high position in the society instead of speaking against it. 2Cor 6:14-7:1. Wrong association can be so dangerous you don’t want to underestimate its peril. Whatever the motive: whether for men’s recognition or help, it will not please God. James 2:9
“Woe to them that go down to Egypt for help; and stay on horses, and trust in chariots, because they are many; and in horsemen, because they are very strong; but they look not unto the Holy One of Israel, neither seek the LORD!” Isa. 31:1
Word: When a minister begin to live in sin, if he fails to repent, he will suffer spiritually and whatever success or money he thinks he has made will not last. It is still the blessings of the Lord that make rich and added no sorrow.
When a Minister is fond of raising money and diverting it to other things instead of what he raised it, this also can make offering to drop and affect the minister because of lack of trust. Abuse of offerings and disobedience wipe out God’s priest Eli and his sons. We need to be careful how we handle offerings especially ministers. It is safe to be accountable to someone within and outside your ministry. Separate your money from Church offering. Set checks and balances in place to forestall abuse.
The Home: The home front is also very vital. The Bible clearly states that a man must rule over his household and his children in submission to him. Between you and your wife, there must be cordiality as becoming Christian couple and as joint heir.
“Likewise, ye husbands, dwell with them according to knowledge, giving honour unto the wife, as unto the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life; that your prayers be not hindered.” 1Peter 3:7
Eli was a high priest who died with his children same day because he did not raise them properly in obedience to God’s commands. Its not just the calling that we have to face instead, the proof of our calling should start from our household. The Lord will help us.
Instruction: If you are engage in Ministry work other than what the Lord asked you to do or where he sent you, you can suffer for it. Even if one is doing the right thing in the place where he/she is sent but not according to God’s pattern definitely, you may suffer for it.
The summary of Saul’s tragic end is just because of his disobedience to God and His word. He would flout God’s instruction (rhema) and disobey the word of God from Samuel and the Torah at will.
“So Saul died for his transgression which he committed against the LORD, even against the word of the LORD, which he kept not, and also for asking counsel of one that had a familiar spirit, to enquire of it; And enquired not of the LORD: therefore He slew him, and turned the kingdom unto David the son of Jesse.” 1Chro.10:13-14
Faithlessness: In addition to this, when you don’t work by faith in God’s vineyard. The Bible says, “The just shall live by faith” and “without faith, it is impossible to please God.” Heb. 11:6. The calling is first to minister to the Lord. Then, receive from the Lord to minister to the people. We should focus on what He calls us to do and constantly seek His face to do it the way He wants. A messenger has message from the One who sent him. Rom. 10:14-15.
Lack of faith may lead to fleshly activities that some ministers engage in to manipulate the brethren. It also results in misuse of scriptures for merchandizing of congregants and for personal enrichment. Some ministers show favouritism to some affluent members whom they easily promote without preparing or processing simply to tie them down and take advantage of them for their money. Jesus said, “What can be compared with a man’s soul?”
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