Bible Society of South Africa
Carina Francke

Praise him – Day 13

Hardships has its advantages

Bible text(s)

To Live is Christ

12I want you to know, my brothers and sisters, that the things that have happened to me have really helped the progress of the gospel. 13As a result, the whole palace guard and all the others here know that I am in prison because I am a servant of Christ. 14And my being in prison has given most of the brothers and sisters more confidence in the Lord, so that they grow bolder all the time to preach the message fearlessly.

Philippians 1:12-14GNBOpen in Bible reader

We hear increasingly of Christians being persecuted for their faith. They are thrown into jail, deprived of their homes and possessions and must flee for their lives. Some pay the highest price – they are put to death, sometimes in the cruellest ways. In our own beautiful South Africa, persecution is not practised to such an extreme measure, but there is increasing resistance against the practice of Christianity in state institutions.

Paul had the following to say about this: “For it has been granted to you on behalf of Christ not only to believe in him, but also to suffer for him” (Philippians 1:29). Suffering in your everyday life and suffering for the sake of Christ and your faith is also addressed by Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount.

He makes it very clear that there will be persecution because you want to live justly and to do what is right and honourable. Present day examples: There are bad consequences for people who refuse to pay bribes in order to secure a business deal – they are simply marginalised and cannot generate an income. A so-called whistle-blower is either victimised and branded or must constantly look over their shoulder.

Jesus says that people, who do what God requires, are “blessed” and encourages them with a promise: “… for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 5:10).

He also warns that believers will be insulted and persecuted and accused of all that is false and evil for his sake (Matthew 5:11-12). For example, Jesus was denounced as a glutton and drunkard and John the Baptist was thrown in prison because he rebuked Herod for taking his brother’s wife. In our day, believers who are teetotal, refuse to participate in activities that they believe could damage the image of God in them, or those who testify about the goodness of the Father are often denounced as hypocrites or fanatics.

However, Jesus’ encouragement and promise applies: “Blessed are you … Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven …” (Matthew 5:11-12).

Paul agrees with Jesus: “For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal” (2 Corinthians 4:17-18).

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