“Yes, and all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution.” (2 Timothy 3:12 NKJV)
In the message before Paul said this, he mentioned many of his persecutions, but ended on a note of promise: God had delivered him from all his persecutions. When Paul says “Yes,” here he’s reaffirming that God will deliver us from all persecutions even as he reminds us that anyone who wants to follow Jesus, anyone who wants to live a godly life, will suffer persecution. This doesn’t mean that Christians should seek persecution – if you’re living a godly life, it will come. This doesn’t mean that if you’re persecuted because you’re obnoxious that you’re living the right way. What it means is that if you’re following Jesus, if you’re striving to live a godly life, you can expect society to push back against you. The world has its standards and those standards are opposed to the things of God. Those who live the way God wants will face the persecution of the world because they live differently from the expectations the world has. And Paul’s message is a reminder that when that happens, God will deliver His people from persecution.
Many Christians today look at any kind of inconvenience society imposes on them for following their beliefs as persecution, and their first response is to fight back hard and loud. The courts are filled with legal challenges to deal with these problems. And, to be honest, some of these attacks on Christians rise to the level of persecution. Anytime a person’s business, livelihood, or life is threatened, that becomes persecution. While Paul took advantage of his legal rights as a Roman citizen, he often suffered the persecution and used his rights later to bring conviction on those who persecuted him. He used his persecutions to lead people to know Jesus. As we look at reactions today, my question is whether or not we use those instances of persecution that do happen to advance the cause of Christ or do we react in a way to inflict the same level of pain on our persecutors? As followers of Christ, we should always seek ways to be redemptive in our responses to anything that happens, especially when we’re persecuted.
Lord, when the persecution comes, and it will, deliver me. As You deliver me, let those who are persecuting me see Your love and grace and then let them turn to You.