The testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.
Persecution is not only certain, but it is profitable. While suffering results in temporary discomfort, the long-term gain far exceeds the short-term losses. In fact, on a personal level, it is the heat of persecution that fortifies our faith.
In James 1:2-4, James was talking to Christians who were being dispersed throughout the Roman Empire because of their faith. And he said, “Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” Now that word “testing” is a word that was used to describe the process by which a potter would take a clay pot and place it in a firing oven in order to fortify that clay pot. And the potter’s purpose in putting his work of art into that firing oven was not to destroy it but to strengthen it. And if it survived that fire without cracking, a word was written on the bottom; this Greek word that is translated “tested” or “approved.” That is the same word that James uses to describe God’s reason for putting you through the oven of testing, so that your faith can be strengthened. God’s purpose is not to destroy you but to strengthen your faith.
Persecution is profitable not only for us personally but also for the church as a whole. Even the most cursory study of history reveals that persecution causes the church to flourish while prosperity causes the church to wither away. When the church suffered it grew; when the church prospered it withered away.
Remember Jesus’ words to the apostles before He ascended back into heaven? In Acts 1:8 He said, “But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth.” Now this verse is not a command; it is a prophecy. How do I know that? Look what happened after Jesus ascended into heaven. The apostles were in that upper room waiting for the coming of the Holy Spirit. “And on that day a great persecution began against the church in Jerusalem, and they were all scattered throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria. . . . Therefore, those who had been scattered went about preaching the word” (Acts 8:1, 4). It was only because of persecution that the church left Jerusalem. Where did they go? Just as Jesus prophesied they went to Judea and Samaria. In Acts 12, Herod Agrippa persecuted some of those who belonged to the church. Guess what happened? They went to the uttermost parts of the world. You see, when the church is pressed, it expands. Persecution grows the church. It is profitable both personally and for the movement as a whole.
Today’s devotion is excerpted from “When Persecution Comes” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2011.
Scripture taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1960,1962,1963,1968,1971,1972,1973,1975,1977,1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.