Regular Christians Who Endured Hardship

Regular Christians Who Endured HardshipText: Acts 14:22

We will go through “many tribulations” in our effort to reach our eternal reward. We need to be strengthened in spirit, encouraged to continue, and always remain faithful. The previous lesson discussed the importance of encouraging our brethren. This lesson is about what we must do ourselves – endure hardships. Even “regular Christians” can do this.

Onesimus (Philemon 10-16)

  • Onesimus was one who endured social/economic inequality – he was a slave to Philemon, ran away, met Paul in Rome, obeyed the gospel, and was sent back; slaves were expected to obey their masters (Colossians 3:22-23), regardless of whether or not they thought it was “fair” (1 Peter 2:18)
  • Similar to Joseph – sold into slavery by his brothers (Genesis 37:24-28), mistreated (Genesis 39:1-20), and none of this was fair; yet he remained faithful to God (Genesis 39:9); ultimately, things worked out (Genesis 50:20)
  • Jesus did not come to bring social/economic equality (Matthew 26:11; Luke 12:13-15) – we may experience varying degrees of oppression and poverty (Philippians 4:12); we need to lay up treasures in heaven (Matthew 6:20) and put spiritual things first (Matthew 6:33)

Trophimus (2 Timothy 4:20)

  • Trophimus was one who endured sickness – left by Paul in Miletus; he was a traveling companion of Paul’s (Acts 20:4; 21:29); a great privilege, but his time for this was cut short
  • King Hezekiah faced sickness to the point of death (2 Kings 20:1-3) – while he was not eager to die, he was able to recount his faithfulness up to that point
  • When we are sick, we should be reminded that life is fragile/temporary (James 4:14) – rather than being disappointed in what we miss, look forward to the reward (2 Corinthians 4:16-18); remain faithful to God through hardships until the end (cf. 2 Timothy 4:7-8)

Antipas (Revelation 2:12-13)

  • Antipas was one who endured persecution – not just mocking/ridicule; he was put to death
  • Jesus warned His apostles that they would be targeted (John 15:18-19) – particularly by the Jews at first (John 16:2); this seems to be the allusion in the letters to the churches in Asia (Revelation 2:9-10, 13)
  • We need to be prepared to face persecution for our faith (2 Timothy 3:12; 1 Peter 4:12) – we glorify God in this (1 Peter 4:16); do not deny the faith (Revelation 2:13) and do not fear (Matthew 10:28); often the “leaders” are targeted first in order to stop the “followers”; yet this should not stop us because we follow Christ (Matthew 5:10-12)

Conclusion

  • We are going to face tribulations as we go through this life
  • These are meant to discourage us and distract us from continuing to serve the Lord
  • Yet we must remain faithful – the reward is great and more than worth it; nothing is gained by giving up

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