Grace For The Journey
The Apostle Paul wrote, by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, in Colossians 4:18, “I Paul, write this greeting in my own hand. Remember my chains. Grace be with you.”
Paul is writing the Christians at Colossae and telling them that his life is a memorial for the Lord Jesus Christ. I want us to think about what kind of a memorial are we leaving for our precious Lord in today’s blog. There are a variety of ways to define the word memorial, but for our purposes today, this one serves as the best: a memorial serves to help people remember some person.
For the Christian, there are really three ways to memorialize our Master:
- With our speech
- In our service
- And through our suffering
After years in the ministry, serving the Lord Jesus as a pastor, I have had numerous precious souls, whom God has given me the privilege to serving, share the hardships and happy times of their witness for the Lord, work of the Lord, and warring with the Lord. I have rejoiced with those who rejoice and wept with those who weep. In the majority of those times of sharing the person’s devotion to the Lord has been not only a powerful witness of God’s faithfulness, but also a powerful testimony of their commitment and trust in Him.
I am convinced that the greatest depth of our devotion to our Master is revealed in the third of these actions – our suffering.
Think of the great apostle Paul and the magnificent memorials he left behind for all the world to read and remember regarding his Master. Paul left us many speeches, sermons, and epistles; he left some magnificent miracles; but he also left us the memory of his many chains. Paul’s suffering is the most powerful memorial of all.
Consider these words he penned for the Christians at Corinth in 2 Corinthians 11:23-28, “Are they [false teachers] ministers (servants) of Christ? – I speak as a fool – I am more: In labors more abundant, in stirpes above measure, in prisons more frequently, in deaths often. From the Jews five times I received forty stripes minus one. Three times I was beaten with rods; once I was stoned; three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I have been in the deep; in journeys often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils of my own countrymen, in perils of the Gentiles, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren; in weariness and toil, in sleeplessness often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness – besides the others things, what comes upon me daily: my deep concern for all the churches.”
To be sure, there are many ways to measure the depths of Paul’s devotion to Jesus, but none reveals as much as the depths of his suffering. And the same is true for every disciple of Christ, including you and me. In our cultural context today, you and I may never experience the physical dangers and suffering that the apostle Paul endured, although many of our brothers and sisters around the world certainly do. You and I may not be shipwrecked or beaten with rods like Paul, but as we live for our Master, we certainly may be shunned, ridiculed, and mocked. We may not be lashed or stoned, but we can expect rejection.
I will never forget these words that I read from the late Dr. R. C. Sproul, “When you are out in the world preaching the Gospel of Christ, if some people are not angry with you, one of two things has happened: either they don’t understand what you are preaching or you are not preaching it!” The Gospel either attracts or repels, and it is our responsibility to share it with others, leaving the results in God’s hands.
So . . . what memorials are you leaving regarding your devotion to Jesus? May God give us the strength to refuse to be less in our witness, even when our devotion is revealed in the form of suffering.
This is God Word … This is Grace for your Journey …
Rest and Rejoice in this eternal truth!
Ephesians 4:7 – “But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it.”
Hebrews 4:16 – “Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.