For the child of God, there is only one justifiable incentive for endurance under difficult situations: the glory of God and the sake of His Son, Jesus Christ. Yet if you and I are honest, we will have to admit that our causes or motivations don’t always come up to this high watermark. Here are three examples in the book of Mark of hardships that need the qualifier, “for Jesus’ sake,” in order to make them worthwhile for the Christian.
-- Rejection --
In Mark 13:13, Jesus told his disciples (and us) to expect a time when Believers would be “hated of all men for [His] name’s sake.” They could be as congenial, kind, and accommodating as one could possibly be, and still encounter hated, simply because of their association with Him. Yet this should not be taken to mean that any time we find people giving us a wide berth, it’s always because we are godly. There are some among us who seem to have a “gift” for rubbing everybody the wrong way most of the time. Not because of their position, but because of their disposition. Such individuals might well consider the possibility that their constant friction with those around them may be an indication that their rejection is lacking that all-important justification—for Jesus’ sake.
-- Deprivation --
We read also in Mark 10:29 that there are some called upon to leave houses, lands, and families, in order to fulfill God’s will for their lives. But here again, one must decide if leaving everything and everyone behind is prompted by the Holy Spirit, for Jesus’ sake, or just a spirit of wanderlust. When the former dear people, God promises a “hundred-fold” recovery; but the latter, who may simply represent irresponsible abandonment, cannot claim such a promise.
-- Absolution --
Finally, we are told in the introductory verse of those who are actually willing to lose their lives—literally or spiritually—for the cause of Christ. Jesus said, “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:13); yet Paul said it’s possible to give one’s body “to be burned,” and still lack true Biblical love (I Cor. 13:3). Sadly, it is possible to lose oneself in a cause for reasons other than for Jesus’ sake.
In times of persecution, deprivation, or personal sacrifice, the glory of God and love for Jesus Christ must be our motivation as well as our consolation. If we cannot truthfully say what we are doing or experiencing is for Jesus’ sake, then we are looking somewhere else for recognition. And that’s the only place it will come from.