One of the keys to success in life is to have a mentor. When the church begins to face severe testing, true believers will need to look to heroic mentors as their examples.
If the police give you an escalating fine for holding a Bible study in a private home, how will you respond? When you are taken to jail for passing out a tract, will you quit?
When you are forbidden to pray or mention Jesus’s name in public, what will you do? When these issues become more prevalent, believers will need to know the consequences and decide how to act for the honor of Christ, taking the examples of those who have gone before.
Suffering for Christ was only beginning when James wrote his epistle. To encourage the believers not to compromise or give in to pressure as Peter did at the trial of Jesus, he proposes “an example of suffering and patience.”
The example they were to follow is described by the word suffering: a compound word from “evil” and “suffering,” meaning “to suffer misfortune, hardship, bearing affliction.” Patience is also a compound word from “long” and “temper or anger,” meaning the ability to not respond emotionally when attacked—-that is, your anger takes a long time to appear.
We are instructed to “take” these examples seriously. The aorist imperative verb means “from now on decide to take,” or to “choose, seize, [or] lay hold of,” their example as your model.
These Old Testament prophets were God’s spokesmen to faithfully deliver His message. Stephen, on trial for preaching Jesus’s word, said, “Which of the prophets did your fathers not persecute? And they killed those who foretold the coming of the Just One, of whom you now have become the betrayers and murderers” (Acts 7:52). He would not back down.
Hebrews 11:35b–-38a sums up our heroic heritage: “Others were tortured and refused to be released . . . Some faced jeers and flogging, while still others were chained and put in prison. They were stoned; they were sawed in two; they were put to death by the sword. They went about in sheepskins and goatskins, destitute, persecuted and mistreated—-the world was not worthy of them.”
We are commanded to follow these examples. The truth of God’s word must become worth defending no matter the price.
“Dear Father, You know and preserve those who are willing to suffer for Your sake. Give me the perseverance and wisdom to follow the example of those of whom You said the world is not worthy for how badly it treated Your people” (Heb 11:38).
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