2 Timothy 2:8-15

Have you suffered yet? Oswald Chambers explains, “To choose to suffer means there is something wrong; to choose God’s will even if it means suffering is a very different thing. No healthy saint ever chooses suffering; he chooses God’s will, as Jesus did, whether it means suffering or not.” Suffering as a believer is inevitable (2 Tim. 3:12). In John 16:33 Jesus plainly said, “In the world you will have tribulation.”

Several things about suffering emerge from our passage of Scripture.

First, We Find the Exemplar of Suffering (vv. 8-9)
Without question, Jesus Christ is the ultimate exemplar of suffering, but the apostle Paul suffered greatly during the years of his ministry. He recounted some of his suffering in 2 Corinthians 11:22-29:
“Are they Hebrews? So am I. Are they Israelites? So am I. Are they the seed of Abraham? So am I. Are they ministers of Christ?—I speak as a fool—I am more: in labors more abundant, in stripes 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 other things, what comes upon me daily: my deep concern for all the churches. Who is weak, and I am not weak? Who is made to stumble, and I do not burn with indignation?”

Furthermore, We Discover the Expediency to Suffer (vv. 10-13)
Paul the apostle wrote about the expediency to suffer in Philippians 1:12-14 and in Colossians 1:24-29. Paul declares in Romans 8:18, “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.” However, we must beware because not all suffering produces a beneficial result according to Matthew 5:10-12 and 1 Peter 4:15-16.

Finally, We Note the Exhortation for Sufferers (vv. 14-15)
No matter how much he might’ve suffered, Paul warned Timothy to remain true to the Word of God in his life and ministry. He exhorted Timothy to practice proper principles of biblical interpretation. This will benefit him and his hearers. Those who refuse to study Scripture diligently would be ashamed when they gave account of themselves to the Lord Jesus Christ at His judgment seat.

Dr. R.Kent Hughes shares this: “The experience of many East European Christians who lived under Communism portray a pattern of suffering transformed to opportunity and blessing. We need to remember how it was for them.

“The experience of Volodia, a Russian believer, illustrates such a divine paradox. In his last year of medical school, when school officials discovered he was a Christian, Volodia was threatened with expulsion from school. ‘You choose—either God or diploma,’ the Communist authorities demanded.

“Volodia’s mentors tried to ensure Volodia, the best student in his class, would choose to graduate. For several months they conducted indoctrination sessions intended to force the student to renounce his faith.

“One day, unannounced, a Communist Party official visited Volodia’s class and declared, ‘Strange things have been happening in our university. There is a rumor that some students are trying to believe in God. We want to find out if this is true. I am going to ask Volodia to come forward and clarify this rumor,’ the official concluded.

“Struck by the shock of being summoned, Volodia understood. He was being offered a final chance to renounce his faith. ‘For 20 minutes, I had the opportunity of my lifetime to tell my fellow students about Christ,’ Volodia, who soon was expelled from university, later told Christians in the West” (from 1001 Great Stories and Quotes).

Have you suffered for your faith? Are you willing to stand firm in your faith even if it requires challenges and suffering? Even if we must face suffering, we do so in the confidence that Christ stands with us.

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