For to you it is given in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for his sake;…
St. Paul feels peculiar sympathy for the Philippians on account of the fact that they are like himself in suffering persecution on account of Christ. Common sufferings promote common sympathies. Only they who have suffered themselves can understand the sufferings of others. Thus it seems to be part of the mission of pain to enlarge and deepen our sympathies.
I. CHRISTIANS MAY BE CALLED TO SUFFER IN BEHALF OF CHRIST. Let a man count the cost. To be a Christian is not only to believe on Christ. It may involve loss, pain, death.
1. We may suffer through our connection with Christ. Thus was it with the persecuted. Now, we may have to give up lucrative but un-Christlike occupations, and to meet with ridicule or opposition in our attempt to serve Christ faithfully.
2. We may suffer for the cause of Christ. We may serve him by our suffering. Faithful endurance is itself a grand witness to Christ. The martyr preaches Christ as truly as the missionary. Even the patient endurance of pain because it is Christ's will that we should bear it does honor to Christ. Many a helpless sufferer, who thinks his life a useless burden to others, teaches such high lessons by the spirit of faith and love with which he endures, that he serves Christ more effectually in his sick-chamber than others by the most vigorous activity in wide fields of enterprise.
II. IT IS A REAL BLESSING TO BE PERMITTED TO SUFFER IN BEHALF OF CHRIST. St. Paul regards the fact with joy.
1. It is proof of fidelity. Not being "affrighted by the adversaries," the presented have their faith confirmed in their trials.
2. It is means of serving Christ. It is an honor and a joy to serve Christ in any way, and most of all where the service is most effective.
3. It is a proof of peculiar distinction. The best soldiers are selected for the hardest service. The martyrs are the flower of the Christian army. It will lead to the greatest reward,
(1) because the most arduous task will justly receive the richest recompense; and
(2) because the peace and joy of heaven will be intensified by contrast with the pain and war of earth. Only the toiler can know the true sweetness of rest, and only the sufferer the deep blessedness of heaven. - W.F.A.
Parallel VersesKJV: For unto you it is given in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for his sake;