“Five times I received at the hands of the Jews the forty lashes less one. Three times I was beaten with rods. Once I was stoned. Three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I was adrift at sea; on frequent journeys, in danger from rivers, danger from robbers, danger from my own people, danger from Gentiles, danger in the city, danger in the wilderness, danger at sea, danger from false brothers; in toil and hardship, through many a sleepless night, in hunger and thirst, often without food, in cold and exposure.” (2 Corinthians 11:24-27, ESV).
Paul is telling the Corinthian church some of the things he suffered in the course of proclaiming Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. What is somewhat amazing to me is that he kept preaching.
And yet, I shouldn’t be amazed. I should, instead, be saddened at my own willingness (or rather, unwillingness) to speak of Christ. I should be saying with the Apostle John, “Little children, you are from God and have overcome them, for he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.” (1 John 4:4, ESV). Or I should be thinking of the prophet Jeremiah, “If I say, ‘I will not mention him, or speak any more in his name,’ there is in my heart as it were a burning fire shut up in my bones, and I am weary with holding it in, and I cannot.” (Jeremiah 20:9, ESV). Most importantly, I should be following the command of Jesus, “’Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.’” (Matthew 28:19-20, ESV).
Paul had the right attitude. “For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.” (Philippians 1:21). In life, we are to serve Christ. In death, we gain all. As Christians, we are secure in the hands of God. Therefore, the worst the world can do to us is kill us. The world cannot take away our salvation or our place in heaven. If you think about it, perhaps the best the world can do to us is to kill us, for that only speeds us on our way to glory.
God forgive us when we keep our mouths closed.