Commentary by Pastor Mike Colaw
This last week I had the opportunity to talk with one of the leaders from Voice of the Martyrs. There has been a running discussion among some of their staff as to why some people walk away from their faith when hardship comes and why some do not.
These are missionaries that graduate from the same schools, grew up in the same churches and all appear to have a deep faith. So why do some walk away? A missionary support team believes they stumbled across the answer while interviewing Christians that were in prison and tortured, including those that recanted.
To understand the result of these conversations, you have to understand how this unnamed government pressures people to walk away from their faith. Not only do they place them in prison, they intentionally let them know of their family’s hardship. They basically repeat the same story over and over again — for years.
“You and your family are starving and in pain. All you have to do is reject your God and you can help them.” Some take the bait and some don’t.
Here is the difference. Those that believe God owes them for their faithful service tend to abandon their faith. They would say things like, “I have done so much for God! Why wouldn’t he help me?” Those that were grateful for the work of Jesus on the cross would say things like, “Jesus gave his all for us, to show us how to live and love. This is the least I can do for him.”
The difference is gratitude. Gratitude verses entitlement. Listen to the apostle Paul, arguably the most effective Christian author that has ever lived, while reflecting on his life before Christ: “The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost.” (1 Timothy 1:15)
The depth of gratitude that pours out from Paul over and over again in his literary work is profound. Contrast that with the story of Judas in John 12. He is mad at a lady for wasting money he wanted to take. Judas believed Jesus’ ministry owed him, and he would ultimately betray Christ to get it. Judas sat under the best teacher, watched the most amazing miracles, yet entitlement destroyed him.
Are you thankful for God’s work, or does he owe you? The difference is everything.