If we endure, we will also reign with Him.
–2 Timothy 2:12
If you are going to bend without breaking, be prepared to suffer for your convictions. Daniel did not have to suffer for his faith in chapter 1, but in chapter 6, King Darius ordered Daniel and the rest of the kingdom not to pray to anyone except Darius. Daniel could not obey, and he had to spend the night in the lions’ den. The fact is, if we say no to our employer or to the government in order to follow God’s will, we need to be prepared to suffer the consequences.
Martin Luther King, Jr. was once incarcerated in a Birmingham jail because of a nonviolent protest he led. When other pastors criticized him for his actions, Dr. King wrote these words: “There are two types of laws: just and unjust. I would be the first to advocate obeying just laws. One has not only a legal but a moral responsibility to obey just laws. Conversely, one has a moral responsibility to disobey unjust laws. . . . A just law is a man-made code that squares with the moral law of God. An unjust law is a code that is out of harmony with the moral law.” Dr. King was willing to suffer for what he believed was an ungodly law.
Remember this: Most Christians are not spared from suffering because of following God. Jesus Himself was crucified because He would not renounce His Messiahship. Paul was beheaded because he would not obey the Roman government. And look what happened to Peter and the apostles after they refused to stop preaching in Jesus’s name. Acts 5:40 says, “They flogged them and ordered them not to speak in the name of Jesus, and then released them.” But what was their response to that suffering? “They went on their way from the presence of the Council, rejoicing that they had been considered worthy to suffer shame for His name” (v. 41). They did not organize a pity party for themselves; they rejoiced that they had the privilege of suffering for the name of Christ.
Does that mean we ought to welcome suffering? No. When we see Christians around the world being imprisoned, tortured, and burned alive for their faith in Jesus Christ, we should not say, “Isn’t that wonderful? They have such a joy to be able to suffer for their faith!” We have a responsibility to do everything we can to stop that. When we see our own first amendment rights being encroached upon, we have a responsibility to push back. We ought to do everything we can to make the Word of God freely available to everyone. But even when Paul was in chains, the Word of God was not chained. Ephesians 6:19-20 says, “Pray on my behalf, that utterance may be given to me in the opening of my mouth, to make known with boldness the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains.” When that time of persecution does come, the Bible says we can rejoice knowing that we have the privilege to suffer for the name of Christ. The key to bending and not breaking is to claim the same promise Paul claimed in 2 Timothy 2:12: “If we endure, we will also reign with Him.”
Today’s devotion is excerpted from “Survival Tip #6: Bend, Don’t Break” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2019.
Martin Luther King, Jr., “Letter From A Birmingham Jail,” April 16, 1963, African Studies Center, University of Pennsylvania, https://www.africa.upenn.edu/Articles_Gen/Letter_Birmingham.html.
Scripture quotations taken from the (NASB®) New American Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1960, 1971, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission. All rights reserved. www.lockman.org.