Last weekend I was memorizing another Fighter Verse, 1 John 2:15 while running on an exercise machine:
“Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.”
But it wasn’t until today God gave me understanding of this verse. I’d rather not have cancer. I’d rather not be afflicted with pain and suffering. But if I were to live a healthy fifty years, in a nice home, with a good job, and lavish riches- but find myself in Hell, it’d be fifty years of futility. If I were to graduate from college, find the most wonderful wife on the planet but weep in the darkness of death, a college degree and 50 year marriage are a loss.
I understand the feeling behind Paul’s words in Phillipians 3:7,
“But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord.”
Count good health as a loss, if it means you will persevere in death. Imagine the tradgedy of escaping cancer, but being caught in hell. Loving life, yet weeping upon death. Pain-free on earth, yet tormented by our own sin.
Another amazing thing about suffering is God’s confirmation of our salvation. Romans 5:3 says,
“We rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured in our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.”
The suffering we go through confirms the origin of our hope and faith in Christ. If our faith perseveres through suffering, we know that our faith was God-given. If our faith does not persevere, we know that our faith was man-given.
That’s why Jesus explains in Mt 13:18-23 that the Christians who fall away (i.e. hears the word and receive it immediately with joy) after tribulation or persecution fall away because “he has no root in himself.” And additionally the Christians who fall away after the cares, deceitfulness of riches choke the word.
Let us examine ourselves, and know that we are saved. For if you doubt your salvation, make sure you do not cling to the world or the things of the world. Only then can the Holy Spirit give you understanding that everything is a loss compared to the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus.
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