What caused one thief to be converted? It was the patient suffering of an innocent Savior who never reviled against His oppressors, but rather demonstrated love for them through intercession expressed in the above verse. The repentant thief witnessed a supernatural feat, an authentic demonstration of divine grace at work. In the same way, as a believer suffers patiently for the Lord, a sweet fragrance of Christ is provided to a lost world; for those who repent it is “the aroma of life leading to life,” but to those who perish it is “the aroma of death leading to death” (2 Cor. 2:14-16). Christ in the believer’s life is an unavoidable fragrance. This was His testimony at Calvary, and our example to follow: “When you do good and suffer, if you take it patiently, this is commendable before God. For to this you were called, because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow His steps ... Who, when He was reviled, did not revile in return; when He suffered, He did not threaten, but committed Himself to Him who judges righteously” (1 Pet. 2:20-24).
As shown in the conversion of the repentant thief, suffering with patience while relying on God’s grace is a supernatural testimony to the lost, and a consolation to the believer that he/she is truly a child of God (Phil. 1:28; 2 Th. 1:5). Praying for our persecutors is a demonstration of God’s control of our will and a safeguard to our mind – a defense against bitterness and much sorrow.
Living to please Christ will result in suffering, but it will also result in perseverance that is pleasing to the Lord, strengthening to the believer and a testimony of the power of the gospel to the lost. Are you suffering for Christ? Are you doing it with patience?
By Warren Henderson
With permission to publish by: Sam Hadley, Grace & Truth, 210 Chestnut St., Danville, IL., USA. Website: www.gtpress.org