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Love, Suffering, and Service

Image by Jeff Jacobs from Pixabay

Because true love compels a servant to suffer, suffering is the truest test of a servant. A husband who abandons his wife at the first moments of discomfort does not love his wife. The same husband who will suffer long hours to buy a new boat at the expense of time with his wife may love the water more than he loves his wife. A wife who cannot bear the inconvenience of waiting on her husband, but who will suffer the first predawn glimmers to win the garage sales and antique shops may love material things more than she loves her husband. 

Anyone who truly loves can expect to suffer. The greater they love, the greater suffering they will endure. When you buy a pet, you can expect to suffer through the trials of owning a pet. If you won’t suffer those trials, then you don’t love the pet and do not deserve it. If a husband and wife decide to have a child, they can expect to suffer the trials of caring for and raising a human being. If they won’t suffer those trials, then they don’t love the child, and do not deserve the divine privilege of parenthood. A man who loves freedom will risk his life for that freedom. A man who says he loves freedom, but who will not fight for it, does not love freedom. He loves security, and he does not deserve freedom. This law is true of any relationship, and it certainly is true of one’s relationship with God.

A follower of Christ can expect to suffer. James tells us that when we meet trials of various kinds that we should count it as joy (James 1:2-4). Paul declares that it has been granted to us that we should suffer (Philippians 1:29). Jesus tells us that we will have tribulation (John 16:33). The Psalmist tells us that the righteous have many afflictions (Psalm 34:19). Paul tells us that those who desire to live a Godly life will have persecution (2 Timothy 3:12). Jesus tells us that those who will not take up their cross and follow him, are not worthy of him (Matthew 10:38).

That last statement by Jesus is profoundly telling. All people on earth will suffer to some degree, but the people who love Jesus will voluntarily take up their cross and voluntarily suffer all the way to death for their love of him. They will emulate the love Jesus modeled when he took up his cross and suffered for them. His great suffering was evidence of his love for them, and a testament to his service to those he loved (Matthew 20:28).

In what ways have you voluntarily suffered in your service to God?

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