Godly Character In Persecution
written by Haley King, Children & Family Ministries Coordinator (October 22, 2023)
How do you handle trials or persecution? Are you preparing now so when trials come you can stand firmly on your faith? In 2 Thessalonians, Paul thanked God for the Thessalonians because not only was their faith growing abundantly but their love for one another as well. They were exemplifying godly character as they were enduring persecution and affliction in the name of Jesus.
The keys to persecution or trials are faith and patience. When we as Christians are faced with trials or persecution, have faith in who God is and trust that His goodness and protection will see us through. If God’s sovereignty in the trial is all we are holding on to, knowing that God is a fair and just God, shouldn’t that give us patience knowing we can rest assured that He has and will never forsake us. Have faith in what God is doing and have patience for what God is teaching you.
When trials and persecution come, trust God’s timing. You may have never thought of trials this way but what if this trial, suffering, or persecution came not because of sin or lack of faith, but because God is growing and preparing you for something bigger. Trials help us adjust our perspective in life. The reality is that the trials you go through are an indication of your stand for Christ. Spurgeon explained how to get a strong and growing faith: “By that means you are to grow. This is so with faith. Do all you can, and then do a little more; and when you can do that, then do a little more than you can. Always have something in hand that is greater than your present capacity. Grow up to it, and when you have grown up to it, grow more.” - Spurgeon
The way the Thessalonians were handling persecution was setting the righteousness of Christ on display. 2 Thessalonians 1:5 says “This is evidence of the righteous judgment of God, that you may be considered worthy of the kingdom of God, for which you are also suffering —“ We usually think that God is absent when we suffer, and that our suffering calls God’s righteous judgment into question. Paul took the exact opposite position and insisted that the Thessalonians’ suffering was evidence of the righteous judgment of God. The fires of persecution and tribulation are like the purifying fires of a refiner, burning away the waste from the gold, bringing forth a pure, precious metal.
Another way to exemplify godly character during persecution is to rest. Paul says that the Christian can ‘take rest’ knowing that God will return that persecution to those who have troubled us. The believer can take rest in two ways: (1) The suffering that you are going through is strengthening you in Christ, making you ready for Heaven. (2) One day the believer will stand before a righteous judge where all wrongs will be right, judgment will be pronounced, and evil will be done away with! We don’t have to worry about those who persecute us, they will receive the vengeance of the Lord.
The believer doesn’t have to be discouraged by persecution but can press on in fulfilling God’s heart and desire for all believers! God’s heart is that all believers would be worthy of His calling by wanting to do what is right and good in His sight. God also wants to reward our faith in Him; as our faith in Him increases, He will empower us the desire to do what is right for the furtherance of our sanctification!