Endure Persecution

1 Corinthians 4:12-14 

12We work hard with our own hands. When we are cursed, we bless; when we are persecuted, we endure it; 13when we are slandered, we answer kindly. We have become the scum of the earth, the garbage of the world—right up to this moment. 14I am writing this not to shame you but to warn you as my dear children. 

Take a Nap

            They were sleeping. Suddenly, their house was shaken. There’s earthquake. No! It was a bomb! Their dream house was destroyed. Why? What’s happening?

Raging wars scatter fears in various continents around the world. Politicians and particular demonstration groups are shouting condemnation of war while opposing groups are vocal of their approval to war. Still, cause-oriented groups actively promote peace, but human efforts produce temporary solutions.

The memory of wildfire that burned to ashes a whole community at tourist destination is still fresh. Then, you heard about flooding or earthquake. What is happening in the world? Are you shaken? Are you scared? Are you anxious?

What can we do in times of uncertainty? Let us reflect of what Christ had warned in Mark 13:7-8, 7When you hear of wars and rumors of wars, do not be alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. 8Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be earthquakes in various places, and famines. These are the beginning of birth pains.

            Practice of faith in Christ includes trust that his warnings will happen in his perfect time. Christ had warned of what may practically happen before he returns and takes us into his heaven. Christ did not reveal the exact date of his return, but his warning should remind us to prepare for our eternal residency in heaven.

It’s no joke! Tragic disasters around the world bother anyone anywhere.

            Religious or not, there’s no ideal life that is free from calamity. But no matter how challenging a struggle we may hurdle, we can sense peace in Christ.

Christ declared in John 14:26-27, 26The Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. 27Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.

            Struggles can cause anxiousness. We can find peace by faith in Christ Jesus.

Anyone can be disturbed when tragic disasters strike. Sometimes, the Lord allows adversities that cannot be solved by human effort to cause us seek his help. As we realize his mercy and grace, we agree that obedience to God is favorable to us.

How many children readily obey their parents? A mother published: “When I tell my children to do their chores, they sing like bird! (Wait! Wait! Twit! Twit!) When my children need something, they sound like cows. (Ma! Ma! Mo! Mo!).”

The Lord commanded us to store up eternal treasure for eternal residency. If we can conceptualize that the commands of God favors us, we readily obey. Children can’t conceptualize that obeying their parents is beneficial to them.

Most often, we’re like children; we want God to wait. We want to finish our project, our dreams. We want to accumulate wealth for better life, which is wise.

Others want a legacy of what they have accomplished. How about us? What is our legacy? Make sure your accomplishment would translate to eternal relevance!

1.  Accomplish

12We work hard with our own hands. When we are cursed, we bless; when we are persecuted, we endure it; 

            Apostle Paul had pointed out to the church of Corinth that they practically worked hard to support themselves and their ministry. He didn’t solicit financial support from Corinth. He exemplified that the grace of God is sufficient enough; that the Lord provides for his servants, even if it means working with their hands.

            Apostle Paul and his mission team had to work with their own strength to support themselves and their ministry because at that time, there was economic crisis that affected everyone, especially in Judea. It says in 1 Corinthians 16:2-3,

2On the first day of every week, each one of you should set aside a sum of money in keeping with your income, saving it up, so that when I come no collections will have to be made. 3Then, when I arrive, I will give letters of introduction to the men you approve and send them with your gift to Jerusalem.

            This advisory has inspired collection of offering on Sundays. Originally, it’s a collection for financial assistance when the church in Jerusalem had economic struggles. Apostle Paul did not ask the Corinthians for financial assistance for him and his mission team. So, why did he write them about their hardship, then?

In hardship, they experienced the grace of God practically. See? When people cursed them, they blessed and not retaliate. They endured persecution.

Every genuine disciple will be persecuted. Let’s reflect on what Christ had warned us in John 15:20, 20If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also.

            When we promote reconciliation to God, we can be persecuted. When we practise faith in Christ, we expect that the enemy of the gospel won’t relax to ignore us. There will always be resistance to the good news of salvation. We can be cautious and remain silent about our faith in Christ, but what does it profit us?

The Dreamer

            Fathers: Do you have favorite child? Joseph was the favorite son of Jacob.

His brothers hated him, why? Jacob gave the best robe available to Joseph who stayed home. Joseph had comfortable robe while his brothers who worked in the field did not have comfortable robe. They endured the coldness of the night.

Joseph was very obedient to his father. One day, Jacob instructed Joseph to go and check his brothers—to see if they needed something. His brothers saw him from a distance. They may have recognized his beautiful robe. It narrated in Genesis 37:19-20,19“Here comes that dreamer!” they said to each other. 20“Come now, let’s kill him and throw him into one of these cisterns and say that a ferocious animal devoured him. Then we’ll see what comes of his dreams.”

            Joseph was simply obeying his father, but his brothers plotted against him. This biblical story exemplifies that siblings, relatives, or anybody you care for may not necessarily care about you. There are siblings and relatives who may even take advantage of your generosity. You work hard to have better life, but you will still hear negative reactions when relatives cannot get what they want from you.

            Have you heard this story? A person from abroad gave gift to his friend; his relatives heard about it. They were offended because he did not give them gift. There are also individuals who are offended when you give them simple gifts. You give or not give, they are offended. Have you encountered such ingratitude, yet?

How should we respond? How should we answer when others resent us?

2.  Answer

13when we are slandered, we answer kindly. We have become the scum of the earth, the garbage of the world—right up to this moment.

            Apostle Paul and his mission team exemplified how we may answer kindly when people say abusive language against us. Have you encountered anyone who particularly takes note of your mistakes because you actively participate in the ministry? They expect us to have perfect behavior; they require us to be good and kind all the times; they want us to say nice comforting words to them.

            How could anyone have perfect behavior? How can anyone be good and kind? How could anyone choose nice comforting words to say all the times? No one is flawless except God. No one is perfect except God. Still, more individuals are offended by the flawless and perfect word of the flawless perfect God.

            Anyone who doesn’t have the Holy Spirit will resist anything from the Lord.

We are told in 1 Corinthians 2:14, 14The person without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God but considers them foolishness, and cannot understand them because they are discerned only through the Spirit.

            So when someone resists you, pray they may be inspired by the Holy Spirit.

And, we have to rely upon the Holy Spirit also so that we can respond in kindness.

            Apostle Paul and his mission team did not retaliate when abusive words were thrown at them. They spoke tenderly in kind words even when they were treated like filthy garbage. Stinky garbage, stinky smell can bother anyone.

How about abusive language? It can irritate. Interestingly, abusive language can practically signal active faith. How do we know if our faith is active and we are dependent on the Holy Spirit or if we are following the example of Christ?

Not Accepted

Let us meditate on what happened to Jesus when he preached among his people in Luke 4:24-30, 24“Truly I tell you,” he continued, “no prophet is accepted in his hometown. 25I assure you that there were many widows in Israel in Elijah’s time, when the sky was shut for three and a half years and there was a severe famine throughout the land. 26Yet Elijah was not sent to any of them, but to a widow in Zarephath in the region of Sidon. 27And there were many in Israel with leprosy in the time of Elisha the prophet, yet not one of them was cleansed—only Naaman the Syrian.” 28All the people in the synagogue were furious when they heard this. 29They got up, drove him out of the town, and took him to the brow of the hill on which the town was built, in order to throw him off the cliff. 30But he walked right through the crowd and went on his way.

            God sent Elijah to a widow who trusted his word. Jesus proclaimed a reality that Elijah was not sent to everyone else. And, the people who saw Jesus from childhood to adulthood were not impressed; they were offended instead. Such is a reality that it is not easy to convince everyone to believe in God. Be prayerful for divine appointment. We are advised to rely upon the Holy Spirit all the time.

3.  Advise

14I am writing this not to shame you but to warn you as my dear children. 

            What did Paul advise the Corinthians to warn them? Paul exemplified hard work, they blessed when cursed, endured persecution, and they answered kindly.

He counted the Corinthians as spiritual children because he shared with them the gospel of Christ and helped them understood the Scripture more clearly.

Personally, we understand; we trust and obey the teaching of Christ only by faith.


            In ancient Jewish culture, women are not readily accepted as leader. Let’s reflect on the situation of Deborah in Judges 4:4-9, 4Now Deborah, a prophet, the wife of Lappidoth, was leading Israel at that time. 5She held court under the Palm of Deborah between Ramah and Bethel in the hill country of Ephraim, and the Israelites went up to her to have their disputes decided. 6She sent for Barak son of Abinoam from Kedesh in Naphtali and said to him, “The Lord, the God of Israel, commands you: ‘Go, take with you ten thousand men of Naphtali and Zebulun and lead them up to Mount Tabor. 7I will lead Sisera, the commander of Jabin’s army, with his chariots and his troops to the Kishon River and give him into your hands.’” 8Barak said to her, “If you go with me, I will go; but if you don’t go with me, I won’t go.” 9“Certainly I will go with you,” said Deborah. “But because of the course you are taking, the honor will not be yours, for the Lord will deliver Sisera into the hands of a woman.” So Deborah went with Barak to Kedesh.

            Did Barak doubt that he was not actually commanded by God because it was Prophet Deborah who told him? He was willing to obey as long Deborah went with him to battle. Hesitation in obeying God is common among Christians. Why?

When there’s hesitation to obey, it only implies dependence on human effort.

            Barak may have been scared because he had no experience leading Israel to battle, just yet. He was also aware that the Israelites were scared of their enemies. What else? He was not ready to accept that a woman tells him what he should do.

Together, let us reflect on Ephesians 5:1-2, Follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children 2and walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.

            Christ loved us, and we walk in the way of love. We can endure persecution; we can also work hard and bless anyone who speaks abusively. What else?

We diligently obey the Lord when his Holy Spirit produces fruit in us to be faithful with joyful peace. Elizabeth Elliot said: Fear arises whenever we imagine everything depends on us. When we sense fear, we are relying upon ourselves.

But by faith in Christ, we love to obey the Lord and no fear of failure.

Pray for increase of faith and inspiration of the Holy Spirit of Christ.

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