Scripture: “ So I ask you not to lose heart over what I am suffering for you, which is your glory.” – Ephesians 3:13
Paul had been imprisoned in Rome because of the emperor but wished to console the Christians of Ephesus and to hold fast to the doctrine he taught them and not be frightened of it even if it brings suffering. He reminds them of their calling by God and the Gospel they had received by his preaching.
Similar to Paul’s admonition, Christians today continue to need such words and consolation. The faithful must endure conflict, sometimes even severe, because of the Gospel. It is especially difficult when believers must lose beloved leaders and teachers, those faithful to the Word, in the midst of suffering. Some take great offense when ministers of the word are attacked or persecuted. This is why Paul consoled the Christians in Ephesus, so that they would remain strong, even if some fall away by his imprisonment, or if false teachers use his imprisonment to say, “See, Paul was in the wrong and now he’s getting what was coming to him.”
We should always be prepared, even if any number of people fall away from sound doctrine and seek after false teachers and become infatuated with their cunning lies. Each of us must hold fast to the Gospel such that, when trouble comes and temptations to flee abound, we can stand and say, “It doesn’t matter who taught this, for it is not about the person or what becomes of him. I believe because the teaching is sound and right and no matter what I will not forsake it.”
What other way could we comfort ourselves and stand firm in the truth if we could not say, “Even if great teachings and preaching and lofty speech cause all my friends and family to follow after myths and lies, the doctrine taught me remains true. I will abide in God’s Word, come what may, stand or fall.” For when the hour of great trial comes, and we find ourselves in a situation like Paul where we can do very little, where can we run but to the Lord? Even so Paul, while in chains, still warned and taught his brothers and sisters as much as he could to remain faithful to sound teaching, even though a multitude of false teachers who were free to move about were there to pervert his words. Paul uses his suffering and afflictions as a way to comfort his converts in Ephesus and gives them strength to endure.
Prayer: Lord Christ, keep me firmly standing on Your sure and unchanging Word so that no trouble or hardship cause me fear or second-guessing. Amen.