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Faithful Unto Death

Savithri was a woman in India who became a follower of Jesus. Because her village was primarily Hindu, nobody objected when her husband beat her to death after she refused to renounce her Christian faith.

Savithri’s strong faith did not shield her from death. We should not be surprised by this. Jesus warned His disciples that standing for the gospel can be dangerous. “Brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child; children will rebel against their parents and have them put to death. You will be hated by everyone because of me, but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved” (Matt. 10:21–22).

Smyrna was a wealthy seaport city, containing both a center for emperor worship and a large Jewish population. In this cultural environment the church was a religious minority whose message provoked Jews and Gentiles alike. These Christians suffered economically and sometimes physically for their devotion to Jesus Christ. They were slandered and abused.

In order to encourage the suffering church in Smyrna, Jesus reminded them of three important truths. First, He was aware of their situation: “I know your affliction and your poverty” (v. 9). Second, things were not what they seemed. Although they may have been poor by human standards, these believers were rich in God’s eyes. Third, their suffering was only temporary (v. 10). In the scope of an eternal perspective, it would be a relatively brief period of time.

What does God expect from those in such an environment? In a word, faithfulness, not survival: “Be faithful, even to the point of death, and I will give you life as your victor’s crown” (v. 10).

Apply the Word

Your situation may not be as extreme as Savithri’s. But no matter what opposition you face, God knows your situation. He has set a time limit on your suffering. By His power you too can be faithful to the end. Review the three truths in this passage to encourage your heart to love Jesus and trust His faithfulness.

BY Dr. John Koessler

Dr. John Koessler, who retired as professor emeritus from Moody Bible Institute, formerly served in the division of applied theology and church ministry. John and his wife Jane enjoy living in a lakeside town in Michigan. A prolific writer, John’s books include Dangerous Virtues: How to Follow Jesus When Evil Masquerades as Good (Moody Publishers), The Radical Pursuit of Rest (InterVarsity), The Surprising Grace of Disappointment (Moody), and True Discipleship (Moody). John is a contributing editor and columnist for Today in the Word.

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