Every single horrible, hurtful, and hideous thing that the Apostle Paul ever had endured for the sake of the gospel, he considered to be a light affliction in comparison to the reward that he witnessed in Glory. Paul was given what few individuals are ever privileged to encounter, he was taken to Heaven and later brought back again into his body to finish his work on Earth. The apostle was able to visit Heaven and bare witness to the splendor and glory of the blessed reward that Jesus had promised all of His disciples.
We find this promise in John 14:2-3, when Jesus explained to His disciples what would be awaiting them when after they died and transition from Earth to Heaven,
(2)”In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.” (King James version)
(3)”And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.” (King James version)
Jesus went back to Heaven and started a major building project of mansions and enormous buildings prepared for those of us who love Him. These aren’t ordinary mansions or homes, but these are dream homes and mansions where every conceivable and moral human desire is fulfilled within these mansions and homes in Heaven. They do not come, however, without a price, we must activate our faith and accept the trials that come as a result of our faith in Jesus Christ.
How Do We Receive These Great Rewards?
Once we place our trust in Jesus and what He did on the cross as our only means of salvation and repent of our sins, and ask Him to come into our lives (Romans 10:9-10, I John 1:9, Acts 3:19, and Acts 2:38), we become disciples of Jesus with the promise of salvation. However, the rewards are not given automatically with salvation, they only come after we have endured the light afflictions of our faith with patience and trust that only comes while we are holding the hand of the Holy Spirit and allowing to guide us through these light afflictions.
The Apostle Paul spoke of these light afflictions in 2 Corinthians 4:17-18 when he said,
(17)”For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory;”(King James version)
(18)”While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal” (King James version)
Paul is simply saying that these light afflictions that we are enduring are working for us and earning eternal interest in Glory. These light afflictions have to do with the: persecution, distress, sickness, and mental and physical pain that we must deal with in order to live a godly life. While some of these afflictions come from direct persecution that we face as we use the name of Jesus as a witness, others are more subtle and come from the righteous behavior that we display in our everyday lives.
Ways That We Are Persecuted
As a believer and a disciple of Christ, we will face persecution for righteousness sake. We experience this type of persecution when:
- we are mocked and derided for not sleeping around and fornicating like others.
- we are suspended or fired for not lying and/or acting unethically in business environments.
- we are ignored and ostracized for not dressing and acting immorally like those in the ‘in-crowd.’
It takes some spiritual guts to take a stand for Jesus and not tag along with the popular, accepted crowd who are blindly racing toward Hell. It is very hard for many Christian believers to resist the idea of going along with societies immorality just to get along with those in the society they live in.
Who wants to be an outcast anyway?
Yet, this is the type of light affliction that the Apostle Paul and many in the early church had to deal with on a daily basis. Paul’s afflictions were in many respects, anything but light. Listen and learn as he testifies of his many trial in 2 Corinthians 11:25,
“Thrice was I beaten with rods, once was I stoned, thrice I suffered shipwreck, a night and a day I have been in the deep;”(King James version)
To many believers in the church these forms of afflictions would be too much to bare just to spread the gospel, but not for Paul. Paul was able to face what he called, “light afflictions,” because he had glimpsed the glorious reward that he was to receive just because he hung-in-there and kept the faith. Paul was so awe-struck with the world that visualized in Heaven that literally words could not do express (2 Corinthians 12: 3-4) the beauty and the knowledge is to come.
Even Shakespeare, who had one of the most creative vocabularies in English language history, could not muster the words together to describe the paradise known as Heaven. Its beauty beyond beauty and glory after glory, and if we must become outcasts by our family, our friends, our bosses, and our neighbors, just know its worth it all! This persecution adds to the glory of the rewards that we will face for suffering in this life for Christ’s sake and for righteousness sake. IT’S WORTH IT ALL, says the Apostle Paul; IT’S WORTH IT ALL, says the Apostle John; IT’S WORTH IT ALL, suggests the Apostle Peter; and finally, IT’S WORTH IT ALL, suggests the Lord of Glory, Himself, the Lord Jesus Christ! A-men