“But rejoice to the extent that you partake of Christ’s sufferings, that when His glory is revealed, you may also be glad with exceeding joy.”
“But” introduces a contrast. In contrast to the time when disaster hit, instead of falling apart, we now “rejoice.” Instead of thinking it strange that we suffer, we can now rejoice in the suffering. We do not delight in the trial itself. We do not rejoice in the reversal but in the Lord, who never changes.
The joy of these Asia Minor Christians was not in persecution itself but in the fact that they could suffer for the Lord. They took a stand for the Lord.
to the extent
The idea of “extent” is that we rejoice in accordance with the degree that we suffer with Christ. To the degree that we share Christ’s suffering to that degree, we rejoice.
We measure the degree of our devotion to the Lord by our willingness to pay the price for Him.
Persecution is a test of our faith and an examination of the reality of our faith. Only those who are willing to suffering will take risks that will put them in jeopardy. These are those who genuinely love the Lord. Their convictions go beyond convenience orientation.
The Lord uses both the rod and the staff on us. The staff comforts us. The rod comforts us as well, but the rod also disciplines us, so we return to fellowship with the Lord.
Ps. 23:4, “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil;
For You are with me;
Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.”
We now keep on rejoicing (present tense) through anything that may come our way. No trial can daunt the dynamics of our lives. On the contrary, we can have joy in a trial. This was the testimony of Paul and his colleagues.
Acts 5:40, “And they agreed with him, and when they had called for the apostles and beaten them, they commanded that they should not speak in the name of Jesus, and let them go. 41So they departed from the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for His name.”