Text: Acts 14:19-28
To not be afraid of suffering in love for Jesus Christ
To be ready to encourage those new in faith
That God would raise up pastors and church workers
FOR TELLING OTHERS GOOD NEWS, Paul is pelted with stones until he appears dead. The perpetrators cart his body outside of town and toss him in a ditch. It would not be the first time that Paul suffered for the Name of Jesus Christ; he lists in 2 Corinthians 11:23-28, in addition to the stoning reported above, occasions where he was whipped, beaten or tossed into prison. These specific, quasi-legal attacks do not include the frequent dangers that he encountered as he traveled from town to town. We may marvel; Paul simply shrugs and counts them as small cost compared to the exceeding wealth of knowing his Lord. He finds in the love that flows from the Lord to him and then back again strength and more to tell good news – he has found the “more excellent way.” Paul loves the Lord, and loves what the Lord loves, and so welcomes the suffering that comes from loving, for he will not be stopped in sharing that love with everyone he meets.
A brief devotion is not enough to address the enormous subject of suffering, so I will simply point out that we are not strangers to what Paul is describing. We will gladly suffer for what we love. Parents suffering for children, or a spouse for the husband or wife; a soldier for platoon mates – all these are examples of choosing suffering for the sake of love. In such moments, suffering for the sake of the beloved brings blessing.
We will also choose suffering for the sake of ourselves, for our self-love. Sadly, such love has a malignant way of pouring suffering onto others, of making others the bearers of the pain that comes. Love is meant to flow outward; when it is directed inward, when our sight is filled only with the self, the suffering that accompanies love is destructive.
So Paul brings Good News, in spite of the dangers—our sight can be turned, we can direct our love outward, we can risk being vulnerable because God, who bears all things, has joined with us. Look up! Look outward! See how the Lord Jesus loves you, and has gladly suffered for you, his beloved. Share that love with everyone you meet.
May your day be grace-filled ~ Pr. Dave Brooks