How Suffering Benefits The Church Pt. 1 (Phil. 1:14a)
As we continue to work our way through Philippians, we will now draw our attention to Philippians 1:14: "And most of the brothers, having become confident in the Lord by my imprisonment, are much more bold to speak the word without fear". Remember, Paul is in Mamertime prison. The conditions of which he is in the presence of are not well. Fifteen pound chains are attached to one or both ankles, he is intentionally dehydrated and starved, sees little to no daylight, and hygiene is poor. We know, according to Philippians 1:12, Paul's imprisonment is serving to "advance the gospel". And we know that through his imprisonment many were coming to know Jesus (Phil. 1:13).
I want to draw one point regarding our question: How does suffering benefit the church? To understand this, let's look at the text and see how Paul's suffering benefitted the church and then let's apply that to our lives. Let's look at the first part of Philippians 1:14: "And most of the brothers, having become confident in the Lord by my imprisonment..."
Paul's imprisonment served to make the church more "confident in the Lord". The word "confident" means to persuade. As the the church witnessed Paul suffering for the sake of the gospel, the church became more persuaded to put their trust in Christ.
For me, when I witness people willing to suffer and risk their lives for the gospel, I cannot help but be encouraged to believe on Christ even more. To see people put their life at stake for faith is empowering to me.
Look at John Piper for example, a man diagnosed with prostate cancer and from the pulpit willing to say, 'this will be for God's glory'. He could lose his life yet, he is claiming that this illness is to make Jesus magnified! Take Joni Earekson Tada, a disabled evangelist, bound to a wheelchair and now diagnosed for the second time with breast cancer. She has the confidence to say, 'I know God loves me'. Think of Corrie Ten Boom, a Jewish Christian, who lost her family and suffered at the hands of Nazis, yet she kept her faith in Christ! Look to John Chau, lost his life trying to get the gospel to that isolated island. And now Paul, an apostle, in prison for telling people about the resurrection of Jesus.
These people all risked their life and gave their life because they believe so confidently in the resurrection of Jesus. What does that do to you? When the world see's people willing to suffer for Jesus, they are much more persuaded to follow Jesus. Take Jack Philip for example, the cake baker sued for not baking a cake for a homosexual couple. His nephew became Christian because he saw how is uncle stood for his faith.
People do not suffer and they do not die, for something they do not believe in. That was once said by someone, not sure who. The point I want to make to you is this: Your suffering serves to make the church more "confident" in Christ. How you handle your sufferings will persuade or discourage others from trusting in Christ. So I close this point with this question: Do you persuade others or do you encourage others to put their trust in Jesus?