Sharing, Suffering, Comforting

KEY VERSE: “As the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our consolation also aboundeth by Christ.” —II Corinthians 1:5

SELECTED SCRIPTURE: II Corinthians 1:1-11

JESUS INVITED THOSE who believed on him to become his followers. He made it plain that the only ones who could be his true followers were those willing to deny themselves and bear the cross.

Self-denial as taught by Jesus is not merely the foregoing of the pleasures of life. Rather it is the denial of self—a dedication to the Lord that is so complete and whole-hearted that one is denied all rights to govern one’s life. It is the giving up completely of our own will and ways, and accepting the will of the Lord as our rule of life. It means a transforming of the mind to conform to the will of God.

Cross-bearing signifies more than enduring unpleasant experiences—it signifies our willingness to die with the Master. Those condemned to death under the Roman law carried their own cross to the place of crucifixion. To carry a cross meant that one was on his way to death, and this is the symbolic meaning of Christian cross-bearing.

Being a disciple of Christ, therefore, implies much more than living a moral and upright life. It means the dedication of one’s life to the cause of God as it is being carried out through Christ—one that leads to the sacrifice of all self-interests. This is the Christian life.

But the life of sacrifice in the Christian cause has its compensations of peace and joy in the Lord which result from the assurance of having divine approval. This peace and joy is based upon the knowledge that our loving Heavenly Father knows what is best for us, and causes all things to work together for our good.

There are also future compensations for those who faithfully lay down their lives walking in the footsteps of Jesus. If these faithfully suffer and die with Jesus they will live and reign with him to share in extending the blessings of health and life to all the world of mankind, which blessings he provided by his own death as the Redeemer and Savior of the world. The invitation to share in Jesus’ exaltation is described by Paul as “the prize of the high calling.”—Phil. 3:14

What a wonderful consolation for the sufferings of Christ! Paul wrote: “If I be offered upon the sacrifice and service of your faith, I joy, and rejoice with you all. For the same cause also do ye joy, and rejoice with me.” (Phil. 2:17,18) May all of us recognize our privileges of service and rejoice in our share in Jesus’ suffering.

From the human point of view, the trials and experiences which make up the church’s sacrifice do not appear any different from those present in the world at large. Yet, under the direction and control of our Lord these are accomplishing significant purposes. One of these is to develop the character of the Lord’s people so necessary for the proper functioning of the sympathetic priesthood class in the next age. All the experiences of life help to shape the character of the body members who are properly exercised thereby.

The New Creature’s desire to participate in the fellowship of Christ’s sufferings results from having tasted the goodness and mercy of God, and from having been drawn within the inner circle of revelation to comprehend something of the grandness of his plan of salvation. Having obtained this glimpse of the program of restitution, we are eager to cooperate with the Heavenly Father in carrying his will forward. We realize that the church, even as her Lord Jesus, must endure the difficulties of the way as part of the training course for this future day. We marvel at the privilege the Father has extended to us of being included with our Lord in his life of sacrifice and also the glory that will follow.

Dawn Bible Students Association
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