June 26, 2011 by Stacy McDonald
I Thank Thee Sire But Thou art making me, I thank Thee, sire.
What Thou hast done and doest Thou know’st well.
And I will help Thee; gently in Thy fire
I will lie burning; on Thy potter’s wheel
I will whirl patient, though my brain should reel.
Thy grace shall be enough the grief to quell,
And growing strength perfect through weakness dire.
~ GEORGE MACDONALD
Wow! How many of us respond to sanctification this way? How many of us choose to thank God, the Potter, as we reel in pain while He spins us, molds us, and burns the dross from our lives? And how many of us lie still, trusting that it is out of His great love for us that He allows trials?
God is so good. He is so patient and faithful to us—just like a tender father to his own precious child, He loves us too much to let us wallow in the cotton candy lifestyle we so often prefer. It’s time for the meat. It’s time for us to choose whether or not we’re going to be faithful to the Scriptures when opposition comes—and rest assured, it comes. It’s easy to be faithful when everyone around you lives and believes as you do. But, what happens when you suddenly realize you may have to walk alone?
One thing I’ve learned is that persecution, in its most painful form, often comes from those who claim Christ – from those closest to us; those we love and trust; those with whom we’ve shared sweet fellowship. That hurts. Martin Luther knew this, William Tyndale knew it, John Calvin knew it, George Whitefield knew it, Jonathan Edwards knew it, and Jesus knew it. We need to know it too. Be ready for it.
Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me His prisoner, but share with me in the sufferings for the gospel according to the power of God…(2 Timothy 1:8)
Whether persecution comes from strangers, extended family, the government, neighbors, an unsaved spouse, even church family or fellow homeschoolers, know that conflict will come when you attempt to live out Christ without compromise. Be prepared—but also be prepared to praise Him through it. As you remain faithful, God will work mightily in the midst of your trial. And, if you are afraid that you won’t be faithful, don’t worry! Ask Him and He will create in you a faithful heart, so that He may do that great work in and through you.
Yes, and all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution. But evil men and impostors will grow worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived. But you must continue in the things which you have learned and been assured of, knowing from whom you have learned them. (2 Timothy 3:12–14) [emphasis mine]
Notice, it doesn’t say that “all who call themselves Christians” will suffer persecution; nor does it say “all who live godly” (or “perfectly,” which is impossible) will suffer persecution. It says all who “desire to live godly” will suffer persecution. He is speaking to Believers—redeemed sinners who are seeking to live out the Gospel in their everyday lives. If you go with the flow, you probably won’t face much opposition. But, if you live Christ, then expect at times to be hated, misunderstood, and slandered for His sake.
Remember the word that I said to you, ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you. If they kept My word, they will keep yours also… (John 15:20–21)
You aren’t here to please people – just to love and to serve them. Fear God, not man (Luke 12:4-5).
That being said, remember your purpose. Remember not to respond to persecution or conflict “like for like.” We’re to demonstrate grace in the face of trials or persecution so that God is glorified. Bless when reviled; endure when persecuted, entreat when defamed (1 Corinthians 4:12–13). “Love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you…” (Matthew 5:44)
Blessed are you when men hate you, and when they exclude you, and revile you, and cast out your name as evil, for the Son of Man’s sake. (Luke 6:22)
If we indeed want to communicate the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and His righteousness, we will emulate Him (Psalm 145:8-9). We will be attacked without being offended; we will be misunderstood without becoming sarcastic; we will be falsely accused without retaliating; we will love without being loved in return. Who can do this? No one. Only Jesus in us. (1 John 4:4-8; 1 Peter 2:20–24)
I fail at this every day.
Oh Lord, help me to reflect your love. Let me decrease, so that you might increase. Help me to speak the truth boldly and without compromise…and in love…without pride. Help me to remember just how small I am compared to You – how helpless I am without You. Help me to extend mercy by comparing myself to Your holiness, rather than to the sins of those around me. And help me to grant them the same grace and mercy I hope to receive from You (Matthew 7:2).
Let us stand boldly for the Truth, compromising nothing; but, let every word we speak, write, or type be conveyed in grace, seasoned with salt, and drenched in genuine humility. You can do it!
These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)
“These men are not able to afflict us except for God’s good purpose and by his permission. Let us without retaliation, consider what God has for us in this affliction. And let us humble ourselves, lest we strive with God.” – John Calvin, “The Betrayal” (I’m not sure that this is an actual quote from Calvin, but it is excellent!)
Read a follow up post here: Persecution? Are You Serious?