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Suffering Well

Scripture: Philippians 1:13-14

I. Suffering well honors God by giving us opportunity to speak of Jesus.

A. Paul writes about God’s design for his suffering in vs. 13. Paul told the guards why he was in prison. He was in prison only because of Jesus. Paul could not stop talking about Jesus. The guards not only heard Paul speak to them about Jesus. They also heard him speak to other Christians. Acts 28:30-31: “(Paul) lived there two whole years at his own expense, and welcomed all who came to him, proclaiming the kingdom of God and teaching about the Lord Jesus Christ with all boldness and without hindrance.”

B. Paul didn’t talk about himself at all. He just talked about Jesus. How great must this Jesus be for Paul to trust Him at a time of suffering like this? This is suffering well. We suffer well when we honor God in our suffering (see vs. 20). Suffering well means talking about the greatness of Jesus as we go through our suffering. In all things Jesus acts for the glory of His name. The good news for us is that in all things Jesus also acts for the good of His people and for our ultimate joy. If you are a Christian, your suffering will not last forever. It’s the joy that lasts forever.

II. Suffering well honors God by giving us opportunity to humble ourselves.

A. We see the Apostle Paul’s humility in many ways in his suffering in Philippians 1. What is humility? Humility does not mean thinking less of yourself. Humility just means thinking less about yourself. Humility is not having low self-esteem. Humility is having very high Jesus-esteem. Paul was humble in that way. It was the responsibility of everyone in the church (the brothers and sisters of vs. 14) to tell people about Jesus. It was not only Paul’s responsibility as a leader in the church to speak the word of God to others.

B. Paul says in vs. 16 about his imprisonment, “I am put here for the defense of the gospel.” This is military language. Paul is under orders from another. Jesus had given the order that Paul be put in prison. And what was the result of Paul honoring Jesus in his prison assignment? We find one result at the end of his letter in Philippians 4:22: “All the saints greet you, especially those of Caesar’s household.” It was because Paul did his duty in a season of suffering that the Gospel spread to Caesar’s house.

Application:

I will bring honor to Jesus by speaking now of His greatness and His glory.    

Sources:
The letter to the Philippians
Commentaries on Philippians by J.A. Motyer, Moises Silva, D.A. Carson and Steven Lawson

Sermon Discussion Questions

1) What was the only reason Paul was in prison? Why didn’t he whine and complain about this unjust imprisonment? What did he do instead?

2) What difficulties are you facing right now in your life? How might those difficulties be used by Jesus to advance His kingdom work?

3) How would you define humble? How can you grow greater in your esteem for Jesus and less in your esteem for yourself?