What’s the Value in Enduring Persecution? That is a great question. Let’s dive in and find a good answer.
Don’t Be Afraid of What is Coming Next in Your Life
“Do not fear what you are about to suffer. Behold, the devil is about to cast some of you into prison, so that you will be tested, and you will have tribulation for ten days. Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life….He who overcomes will not be hurt by the second death (Revelation 2:10-11).’
Jesus’ Evaluation of the Church in Smyrna.
Smyrna means “bitter,” and it contains the root “myrrh,” which was a balm and a gift to the baby Jesus(Ps 45:8; Mt 2:11). Perfumers produced this fragrance by putting it under pressure–crushing it–to (Greek thlipsin) release its scent.
How Should We Respond to Persecution?
We as believers will also release our best fragrance under persecution. Because they mature us, we must remain under our trials and not seek unholy release from them. James 1: 2-4 puts it this way:
“Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.”
Smyrna was known for its riches. But because of their testimony, these Christians were cut off from the city’s wealth. The word translated poverty means without the necessities of life. Yet, in Jesus’ judgment, they were rich (spiritually). This church contrasted with the Laodiceans church, who thought they were rich and needed nothing, not realizing their spiritual destitution. (Revelation 3:17).
The Bible calls someone a rich man, not for his possessions, but because of their attitude of superiority, self-reliance, and pride (Mark 10:23-27). They even saw widows, orphans, and aging parents as targets of profit (Mark 7:1-13; 12:38-44). These people don’t come to Jesus with empty hands like children do (Mk 10:13-16). These last days are not a time for storing up treasure:
“Come now, you rich, weep and howl for your miseries which are coming upon you,,,, It is in the last days that you have stored up your treasure (James 5:1-3)!
Apparently, the Jews in this town outnumbered and persecuted Christian believers, adding to the suffering.
Jesus, familiar with suffering, encouraged them in theirs. He knew the details of their suffering and that they live where Satan’s throne is. Even so, they shouldn’t be afraid even when facing death (Rev 2:9-10). They shouldn’t fear their physical death because “He who overcomes will not be hurt by the second death (Rev 2:11).”
“Will not be hurt” is a double negative in the original Greek. Jesus uses a figure of speech, a litotes whichunderstates something for emphasis. We could translate this figure the overcomer will not, absolutely will not, be hurt by the second death. This person’s reward would be an enhanced experience of eternal life now that lasts throughout eternity.
Christian Response to Persecution
All faithful Christians are promised persecutions in this life, and some trials may result in death (Mk 10:30; Jn 15:20). This is a timeless message calling Jesus’ followers to patient endurance (conquering), and faithfulness until He returns.
Therefore, since Christ has suffered in the flesh, arm yourselves also with the same purpose, because he who has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin (1 Peter 4:1).