“No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.” (1 Corinthians 10:13)
We get off way too easy. The Apostle Paul, who wrote many of the books of the New Testament, called himself a “slave” or “servant” of Jesus Christ in the books of Romans, Philippians, and Titus. James, the brother of Jesus, did the same in his letter. Peter too.
The sufferings and harsh treatment of Paul and other New Testament disciples are well documented. They went through much for the Gospel of Christ! Even so, I am not a proponent of persecution for the sake of persecution. Nowhere in the Scripture does God tell us to go looking for it.
We live in a time in the church where the individual is esteemed higher than the needs and expectations of the broader body of Christ. More and more people who call themselves “Christians” are making decisions, not based on the Word of God, but based on what they believe God wants for them. Much of this is centered in the expectation that “God wants me to be happy” or “I deserve this or that” if life gets hard.
Here in America materialism and an unsuspecting trust in our possessions have made the Church much too soft. We give up way too easy when life hits us between the eyes. The old saying “When the going gets tough, the tough get going” does not seem to apply to a large part of the Christian population.
There are three perspectives we need to maintain: First, we must consistently recognize ourselves as slaves of Jesus Christ. Slaves have no rights except what the master gives him or her. Slavery is often in a negative context. However, when it comes to the one who made us, He has only our best in mind when He gives His commands. When the going gets tough, recognize you are a slave of Jesus. Second, we must consistently recognize that God will not give us too much to bear (1 Cor. 10:13). Nothing in this world is too much for the one who has the Spirit of God living inside him or her. Consistently and confidently go back to the Father to meet your needs. Avoid expecting other people to do what only God can do. Third, we must consistently recognize that it’s not about us. God narrows it down for us when He says to love Him and love others. This is an outward focus that helps us get our eyes off ourselves.
Let’s be clear — there is a time to hold people accountable who are physically harmful. No one should be a prisoner of such actions. If you are in this kind of a relationship, get help immediately.
May we become a people and a nation who are known for persevering to the end, confidently trusting in the Lord God of Heaven, the One who made us and loves us so!
William “Carey” Northington of One Master Ministries in Xenia may be contacted at OneMaster.org.