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DEVOTIONAL
Judged to suffer for Christ’s name
Richard Wasserfall
21-Jun-2004
“For it is time for judgement to begin with the family of God; and if it begins with us, what will the outcome be for those who do not obey the gospel of God?”1 Peter 4:17
Up until now, Peter’s teaching on how to suffer for being a Christian has been to not be surprised that we do suffer for preaching the name of Jesus, but rather to rejoice for bearing and suffering under His name, and thanking God that because of it, we are assured of our glory when Christ’s glory is revealed (1 Pet 4:12-16). In verse 17 however, he gets to the niggling question of why it is we should suffer for Christ’s name, and rejoice in that suffering no less. “For it is time for judgement to begin with the family of God,” he says.

Now what does it mean to say God’s judgement has begun with us, the body of Christ? And how is that judgement different from the judgement reserved for those who disobey the gospel of God? Well, firstly, “those who do not know God and do not obey the gospel of Our Lord Jesus…will be punished with everlasting destruction and shut out from the presence of the Lord and from the majesty of His power on the day He comes to be glorified” (2 Thes 1:8-10a). This then is the nature of God’s judgement on the disobedient. We know, however, that this is not to be our judgement.

To answer then what the nature of His judgement is for those that obey Him—judgement that is now, it is worth quoting at length again from 2 Thessalonians where Paul writes, “We ought always to thank God for you and rightly so, because your faith is growing more and more, and the love everyone of you has for each other is increasing. Therefore, among God’s churches we boast about your perseverance and faith in all the persecution and trials you are enduring. All this is evidence that God’s judgement is right, and as a result you will be counted worthy of the Kingdom of God, for which you are suffering” (2 Thes 1:3-5, emphasis added).

So God’s judgement that has already begun for his family is that we should suffer trials, temptations and persecutions. Moreover, this judgement is just because the evidence shows that while enduring trials and persecutions, His people have grown in faith and love, therefore making themselves worthy of being called the sons and daughters of God. Therefore, not only is it God’s will that we suffer for Christ’s name, but that will is right and just, because this suffering make us worthy of being received into His glory.

With this in mind, we should be constantly praying for each other that God may count us worthy of His calling—that is to suffer for His name—“so that the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified in you, and you in him” (2 Thes 1:11-12).
Dear Father, may it be that in the moment that we suffer for Christ’s name, we might find ourselves rejoicing and praising You that we have been counted worthy of suffering for Your name. Amen.