Philippians on Friday: How to Benefit from Suffering

Thanks for joining me for our Philippians on Friday devotion. Today we’re examining chapter one, and verses 29-30:

Philippians 1:29 – 30: For unto you it is given in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for his sake; Having the same conflict which ye saw in me, and now hear to be in me. (KJV)

PhilippiansThis passage is about something people don’t like to think about or talk about: suffering! Who wants to suffer? No one! No one enjoys suffering. No one looks forward to suffering. No one wishes for suffering. We avoid suffering as much as possible.

It’s difficult to fathom the idea that one can find benefit, even joy, in suffering. Before we explore that notion, let’s define what kind of suffering Paul is talking about. He is not referring to pointless or random suffering – he is talking about suffering for the sake of Christ and the Gospel.

Some people suffer but will find no benefit or blessing in it because they are suffering for the wrong reasons. Some people suffer because of their own poor choices. Bad decisions, unholy lifestyles, unhealthy habits, and damaging behaviors result in suffering – but that’s not the kind of suffering Paul is talking about nor the kind of suffering that will bring us any benefit. Paul is talking about suffering for the cause of Christ – and that kind of suffering can result in all sorts of spiritual blessings and benefits.

Paul did not mince words with the Philippians! He told them to get ready because it’s going to happen!

“For unto you it is given…to suffer for his sake;”

 As Christians, we will suffer. By standing for truth and righteousness, we will attract the persecution of evil people. When we follow God’s Word and Will, we will suffer adversity and opposition from the enemy. When we deny our flesh, pick up our cross, and follow Him, our carnal man will experience some suffering.

So it’s not a matter of “Will we suffer?”, it’s a matter of “Will we suffer for the right reasons and be benefited from it?”  We will be able to keep a good attitude through our suffering? Will we allow the suffering to produce something positive in us?

Paul told the Philippians they were going to experience some of the same difficulties that he had experienced:

“Having the same conflict which ye saw in me, and now hear to be in me.”

Throughout chapter one Paul described the adversity and persecution that he wasPhilippians suffering. Yet Paul kept an excellent attitude through it all. He was able to find the silver lining in his trials. He demonstrated faith that God was going to bring good out of his afflictions.

Now he’s telling the Philippians he has suffered – get ready – you’ll have to endure some of the same things. I’ve suffered for the cause of Christ, yet kept the right attitude and spirit. Now you’ll have to endure some difficult things. Will you be able to keep a good spirit? What will your attitude be in the fire?

Paul, in essence was saying,

  • I was unjustly treated and falsely accused but kept a good attitude. You’ll experience similar treatment. What will your attitude be?
  • I was thrown in prison but still praised God. You’re going to be thrown into a bad situation. Will you be able to praise God?
  • My Christian Brothers talked poorly about me and used my imprisonment to advance their own ministry, but I responded, “What does it matter, Christ is being preached and for that I rejoice” (Philippians 1:18). Now somebody’s going to talk poorly about you! How are you going to handle it? Are you going to get all bent out of shape or bitter? Or will you say, “What does it matter?”

What will your attitude be in the Fire?

Suffering is inevitable. Benefitting from our suffering is not. 

Peter spoke of a joy that should accompany those who suffer for the cause of Christ:

1 Peter 4:12–13 – 12 Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you: 13 But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ’s sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy.

Why would we rejoice if we suffer? Because if we keep the right attitude, stay close to God, and remain steadfast through our trials, our suffering will work for us, not against us!

2 Corinthians 4:17 – 17 For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory;

How does suffering work for us? Was does it produce? Peter gives us the answer:

1 Peter 5:10: 10 But the God of all grace, who hath called us unto his eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that ye have suffered a while, make you perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle you.

When we suffer for the cause of Christ and keep the right attitude, God will:

  1. Make us perfect (mature)
  2. Establish us
  3. Strengthen us
  4. Settle us

Suffering is inevitable. Benefitting from our suffering is not. That depends upon our reason for suffering (for the cause of Christ, not for foolish choices) and us keeping the right attitude through our suffering.

So if you’re enduring suffering right now because of your faith and your stand for Christ, be encouraged. Though you may not see or feel it now, your suffering will bring about a glorious result in your life, both here and in eternity.

~Matthew Ball

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