How do you react in the face of tribulation? Will you stand up for the truth like the Apostle Paul? Steph Nickel encourages us to be strong in our faith, and to spread the Good News to everyone we meet.
Stand Up For The Truth
1 Corinthians 4:11-14 says, “To the present hour we hunger and thirst, we are poorly dressed and buffeted and homeless, and we labor, working with our own hands. When reviled, we bless; when persecuted, we endure; when slandered, we entreat. We have become, and are still, like the scum of the world, the refuse of all things. I do not write these things to make you ashamed, but to admonish you as my beloved children“
What an example Paul and the other apostles set for us!
“When Reviled, We Bless.”
How do we respond when others speak badly of us or harbour resentment toward us? Our human tendency is to withdraw, even get back at these individuals. We may seek to defend ourselves, to protect ourselves from their attacks.
What did the apostle Paul do? He blessed them. No matter what, he sought to make the truth about Jesus Christ known to them. Incredible!
“When Persecuted, We Endure.”
Paul experienced more extreme opposition than many—probably most—of us ever will.
Second Corinthians 11 gives us a glimpse of Paul’s suffering. Verses 24-27 say, “Five times I received at the hands of the Jews the forty lashes less one. Three times I was beaten with rods. Once I was stoned. Three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I was adrift at sea; on frequent journeys, in danger from rivers, danger from robbers, danger from my own people, danger from Gentiles, danger in the city, danger in the wilderness, danger at sea, danger from false brothers; in toil and hardship, through many a sleepless night, in hunger and thirst, often without food, in cold and exposure.”
He also goes on to mention his concern for all the churches as if this, too, weighed heavily on him.
And yet, through it all, he endured. As believers in the Lord Jesus, we can endure what we’re facing as well.
“When Slandered, We Entreat.”
I don’t know about you, but if I’m slandered or my intentions are misunderstood, my inclination is to retreat, not entreat. And if I were to entreat, it would more likely be in order to defend myself rather than proclaim the gospel to the one who was slandering me.
Our call as Christians is not to behave as unbelievers behave. Thankfully, it is God Himself who gives us the desire and the ability to respond rather than react.
“We Have Become … Like The Scum Of The World, The Refuse Of All Things.”
As if Paul’s comments up to this point aren’t enough—he was reviled, persecuted, slandered—now he’s saying that there are those who consider the apostles the scum of the earth, refuse, waste even.
I don’t think anyone has ever thought of me in this way. But would I be willing to stand up for the truth of the gospel and God’s great love for even those who mistreated and abused me if it meant having the opportunity to share the message of salvation with these individuals and others?
Now don’t get me wrong; I’m very thankful to live where I do. But in more and more so-called free countries, it is becoming increasingly unacceptable to proclaim the Scriptures, to stand up for what God declares to be good. The notion of evil is not seen from a biblical perspective.
But we must look to the apostles’ example to learn how we ought to proclaim the truth and what should motivate us to do so.
Will You Stand Up For The Truth?
Would Paul have had the right to defend himself against his accusers, to speak out against their lies and wicked deeds? Certainly.
But what was more important to him? Their salvation. That’s right. He truly loved his enemies.
Are we to stand up for the weak and defenseless? Yes. The Bible has much to say about this.
Must we remain in abusive, demeaning relationships and workplaces and simply accept what comes our way? I don’t believe so.
In today’s passage, Paul was talking about suffering for the cause of Christ. And there will come a time when more of us are required to do so.
We, like the apostles, must grow strong in our faith and in our desire to make Jesus known, even among those who don’t want to hear and may very well try to stop us.
Paul and the other apostles found their security and worth in their standing with God, not in their standing in the community. May this be our hope and confidence as well.
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