2 Corinthians 6:4-10
4 But in all things approving ourselves as the ministers of God, in much patience, in afflictions, in necessities, in distresses,
5 In stripes, in imprisonments, in tumults, in labours, in watchings, in fastings;
This Monday's Message, lets begin in 2 Corinthians 6:4 “In afflictions”. To better understand what the Bible means by afflictions, lets look at the first time it is used in the New Testament. In Mark 4:14-20 Jesus is explaining the famous parable of the sower.
14 The sowersoweth the word. 15 And these are they by the way side, where the word is sown; but when they have heard, Satan cometh immediately, and taketh away the word that was sown in their hearts. 16 And these are they likewise which are sown on stony ground; who, when they have heard the word, immediately receive it with gladness; 17 And have no root in themselves, and so endure but for a time: afterward, when affliction or persecution ariseth for the word's sake, immediately they are offended.
Notice in verse 17 it says,When affliction or persecution ariseth. Here we see the word affliction being compared to persecution. Next it says, For the word’s sake, immediately they are offended. So Jesus said that those on stony ground receive the word with gladness and then when they are afflicted because of the word, they are offended.
This same parable is explained in Matthew 13:20 20 But he that received the seed into stony places, the same is he that heareth the word, and anon with joy receiveth it; 21 Yet hath he not root in himself, but dureth for a while: for when tribulation or persecution ariseth because of the word, by and by he is offended.
So, according to Jesus’ teaching, believers will be afflicted because of the Word of God. 2 Timothy 3:12, Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution. In 2 Corinthians 6 the apostle Paul tells us to approve ourselves as the ministers of God in afflictions. By comparing these two passages we can see that as children of God we should expect tribulation, affliction and persecution from the unbelieving world because of our faith in Jesus Christ and His Word. When this affliction comes, we should not be offended as if we weren’t told to expect this kind of treatment. Rather we should count it joy to suffer for Jesus Christ.1 Peter 4:12, Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you: 13 But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ's sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy.
The next item listed is, “in necessities”. We can see Paul uses this same word in 2 Corinthians 12:10 Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ's sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong. The word necessity means something that is needed, indispensable, or required. I believe he is speaking of going without necessary things such as food, shelter, clothing etc. We know that Paul suffered many things while preaching the gospel all over the world.
2 Corinthians 11:23, Are they ministers of Christ? (I speak as a fool) I am more; in labours more abundant, in stripes above measure, in prisons more frequent, in deaths oft. 24 Of the Jews five times received I forty stripes save one. 25 Thrice was I beaten with rods, once was I stoned, thrice I suffered shipwreck, a night and a day I have been in the deep; 26 In journeyings often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils by mine own countrymen, in perils by the heathen, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren; 27 In weariness and painfulness, in watchings often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness.
This list of afflictions and necessities is strikingly similar to the list we are studying in chapter 6. The apostle is drawing from his own experience to warn us of the cost of serving Jesus Christ. Paul was willing to suffer for the cause of Christ and we should be willing also. The Christian life is a call to service, a call to put our own wants after those of God and others. We should expect to be hated of by the world and to be treated badly. But because we in the United States live in a mostly free country that was built on Christian values we have the luxury of sitting back and avoiding affliction, distresses, stripes and imprisonments. This luxury certainly will not last forever according to the scriptures. Would you be willing to go to jail for preaching the truth of the Bible? Jesus commanded us to teach others the whole counsel of God, not just the gospel message.
Matthew 28:19 Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: 20 Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen.
Are you willing to stand on the truth of God’s Word even if it means that you will suffer for it? We should all be willing to suffer and yes, even give our life for Christ if need be.
Revelation 2:10, Fear none of those things which thou shalt suffer: behold, the devil shall cast some of you into prison, that ye may be tried; and ye shall have tribulation ten days: be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life.
Jesus commands us to be faithful unto death. We should make up our mind today that we will stand for Jesus Christ and His Word no matter what the cost, and rejoice if we are counted worthy to suffer for His holy name.