November 02, 2021
In the fictional movie based on the true story of Elliott Ness’ famous pursuit of Al Capone, his second in command asked him a foundational question. “What are you prepared to do?” Jim Malone queried. Malone knew their success in the great battle against organized crime in the 1930’s would only be won by a wholehearted commitment to the cause. His question was testing Ness’ heart to determine his willingness.
The Apostle Paul’s readiness for the cause of Christ is well-documented in the Scripture. One short phrase in 2 Corinthians 11 slaps us in the face with the stark reality of Paul’s surrender.
“Five times I received from the Jews thirty-nine lashes.” (2 Corinthians 11:24)
Read the above verse multiple times in succession. Mediate on what this meant for Paul as he endured one of the most gruesome forms of punishment in his day. Think of being tied to a post and receiving such physical torture. Then remember that the Lord received the same right before His crucifixion. And Paul endured it five times. Five.
Paul’s surrender to the cause of advancing the Kingdom of God was so strong it gave him the power to do anything. God’s enabling grace was completely sufficient. He had all He needed as he crossed the line of suffering and faced the prospect of death for Christ.
If you realize what is at stake (the lives of men) and that our Elder Brother went through the same to give us eternal salvation, you are willing to go all the way.
No one knows how they would respond when being persecuted for their faith, but history is filled with tens of thousands of martyrs who were willing to pay the ultimate cost. In heaven, the highest rewards are reserved for these faithful, courageous men and women.
TAKE UP YOUR CROSS
When multitudes were following Christ, He drew a line in the sand and made a simple, life-changing question.
“Whoever does not carry his own cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple.” (Luke 14:27)
What are you prepared to do?
Father, help us see You and Your kingdom as the pearl of great price. Work on our willingness, Lord, and give us grace to boldly follow You, whatever the cost.
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