“But thou hast fully known my doctrine, manner of life, purpose, faith, longsuffering, charity, patience, Persecutions, afflictions, which came unto me at Antioch, at Iconium, at Lystra; what persecutions I endured: but out of them all the Lord delivered me. Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution. But evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving, and being deceived.”II Timothy 3: 10-13
I remember some young men in my youth group who had a real walk with God. I remember that they were not perfect, but they took a stand for God and what was right. I would say they were the minority in our youth group, and I know of some who despised them. People would often call them names and make fun of them. “Holy roller” and “prophet” were thrown out, but it did not sway those who desired to do right. I respected their walk with God and was, at times, envious of their walk. I was careful not to be a hindrance, and I tried not to be a bad influence. I desired to have the godly characteristics of faith, longsuffering, charity and patience, but I did not have the self disciplined and love for God that was needed to walk in this way.
My life was full of self, impatience and a love for only that which propelled my selfish causes and ambitions. I think of those who stood for Christ, and they were an example to me as Paul was to Timothy. There is no greater sermon than a life that is a living testimony to all who are around you. Paul had a real walk and did not only face ridicule but he faced those who sought to take his life and eventually did. He warned that a real walk with God will often cost you something. It may cost you friends, family, and in the most adverse times, your life. There are those in other countries who are facing physical persecution and their life is on the line every day. In our country, we are not to this level but this may change in the coming years.
Facing persecution does not sound like an activity in which you would want to be part, but there is joy in suffering for Christ. The other alternative is to live for this world and be deceived by the lies of the Devil and live a life that will count for nothing. The pleasure of sin is but for a moment, but living for God reaps eternal rewards. I cannot imagine that Paul regrets a single moment of living for God, and I am sure he will attest to the honor of dying for his Savior. Death is victory for the Christian and it is the final deliverance from this world and its sufferings. We are afforded great liberties in America but slowly these are dissipating due to a society that desires to do evil and grow in wickedness.
Are you known by faith, charity, longsuffering and patience, or are you known by your impatience and lack of love? Do you have a real walk with God or do others not even know you are a Christian? Are you willing to pay what it may cost you to live for God? May we posses the spirit of Stephen who prayed for his enemies with his last dying breath, and may we not complain when we are called to “suffer” for our God.