… fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. – Heb. 12:2 NIV
That living the lifestyle expected of a true Christian, though not impossible, is very challenging is not arguable. In a world where all that matters is the attainment of life ambition and goals irrespective of how the achievement was attained, it should be expected that the one who chooses to be guided by biblical principles and Christian values will always be considered an enemy, as the foundation of those principles tend to emphasize the moral behind those achievements and not just the so called success. The one who has chosen to live a Christian life is not only considered foolish and stupid but may also be seen as an enemy, if such happens to be positioned on the path of these “get it by all means” individuals as the actions taken by such along biblical principles and Christian values will always be considered as hindrances to their progress. Such may therefore become a target of several attacks which may be physical, spiritual, emotional, psychological, etc.
That these attacks will sometimes get to the targeted Christian and with very negative consequences on the life of not just the target but those around such, should also be expected. Some may argue that Jehovah should be able to protect His devotees from such attacks and they will be right, as He has the capability do to so, but Jehovah for varied reasons may choose not to stop the attack and allow the perpetrators to achieve their objectives but what He has always promised is final victory for those who persevere till the end – Matt. 24:13. The enemy may win a battle or two but WILL DEFINITELY NOT WIN THE WAR. It is with this in mind that the Christian will be expected to persevere until the promised victory is achieved, which will definitely happen in Jehovah’s time.
Persecution for the one who has chosen to live the Christian lifestyle is not new as it has always been the norm since the emergence of the ministry of Jesus Christ. He informed his followers then and now of these trials and temptations in expectation that they will be aware of what is coming and so be prepared for it – Matt. 10:23; Jn. 15:20; 16:33. The Christian should therefore find it strange if there are no persecutions rather it will be advisable for such to prepare for them and receive encouragements from Christians who successfully waded through this experience and ended up with the CROWN OF LIFE. This should be their assurance that they too can also successfully pass through all those persecutions without having to deny their Faith.
The scripture today is an advise from one of such people that successfully fought the fight of Faith and won – 2Tim. 4:7-8. Going by biblical records, there is hardly any other follower of Jesus Christ in history that experienced greater persecution than the Apostle Paul (2Cor. 11:23-29), and that makes him probably the best person to advise the Christian on how best to achieve victory in this War. In the scripture that is the foundation of today’s devotional, he advised the Hebrews who were going through what you as a Christian may be experiencing today, to make Jesus Christ whose followers they claim to be, their model. This is because whatever he may be able to cite as persecutions that he experienced paled into insignificance when compared to what the one that the Christian clams to believe in went through. Despite his standing with Jehovah, he experienced what will be considered the greatest persecution of all times as he was not only falsely accused and humiliated but also made to pay the ultimate price for a crime that others committed – Isa. 53:4-5; 1Pet. 2:24. He however willingly accepted all these challenges because he focused more on the ultimate goal rather than the distractions on the path to glory – Phil. 2:6-9. This focused life afforded him the opportunity to have a special seat on the proverbial right hand side of Jehovah. In that position he is able to exercise full authority over all those forces that warred against him and achieve final and eternal victory. INDEED HE WON THE WAR.
The Christian today who desires eternal victory and a special position on the proverbial right hand of Jehovah must equally remain focused on this great reward that is available to the one who perseveres to the end – Matt. 24:9-13. This is not an act that is achievable by merely taking the decision to persevere but one that will be possible only with the help of the Holy Spirit since perseverance remains one of the several fruits of the Holy Spirit – Gal. 5:22-26. The Christian must be conscious of the fact that an invitation was sent to Lucifer to come with trials and temptations, the very same minute that the decision was taken to worship Jehovah exclusively and Lucifer does not give up. The decision of Jesus Christ to commence the work for which he was sent, immediately brought Lucifer to him and even after testing him unsuccessfully in three ways, the bible notes that he only chose to leave him for a season – Lk. 4:1-13.
There is a reward waiting for the one who successfully perseveres through trials and temptations, not only in the life after life but also in this realm which is why Bishop James advised true Christians to count it all for joy when they go through such experiences – Jms. 1:2-3. There is definitely so much that the Christian can look forward to which should serve as sufficient encouragement to persevere, and whatever sacrifice is made to remain faithful through all trials will definitely be worth it in the end. Do not focus on those who seem to be succeeding without using biblical principles. The bible says that their success is temporal as they will eventually be destroyed eternally. – Psa. 92:6-7.
All those trials you may be encountering are mere distractions as you have Jehovah’s assurance that they will NEVER overcome you, so remain focused on your race so that at the end you can receive the reward that is available for all those who persevere till the end. May Jehovah grant us all the persevering spirit and the focused mind to successfully run our heavenly race in Jesus name. Amen.