I know your tribulation and your poverty (but you are rich) and the slander of those who say that they are Jews and are not, but are a synagogue of Satan. (Revelation 2:9 ESV)
Do not fear what you are about to suffer. Behold, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested, and for ten days you will have tribulation. Be faithful unto death, and I will give you the crown of life. (Revelation 2:10 ESV)
This Scripture depicts a physically poor man or church, yet spiritually rich. We can therefore see that physical wealth is not always an evidence of God’s approval while physical poverty is not always an evidence of God’s abandonment or lack of approval. Spiritual wealth is superior to physical wealth so any one that is spiritually wealthy yet physically poor must not be angry. God has kept those physical blessings constant in order to grow you spiritually.
Ultimately, God wants everyone to prosper even as their souls prosper but what of when things are not following that sequence and the soul is not prospering. If the soul is not prospering, God in His sovereignty can hold the physical prospering and allow poverty or health challenges as corrective measures which is a form of judgement.
Judgement begins in the house of God. Someone can be judged because of stagnant or impure faith. If we refuse to grow spiritually, God will introduce ways to make us grow and be spiritually rich. Correction is always painful and never joyful or sweet.
However, everyone does not fall under that category. God deals with everyone individually and there should be no generalisation in Christianity. If someone is born with afflictions, born blind or born with the curse of poverty as a result of ancestral idol worship, He must seek the face of God for deliverance instead of using various scriptures to conclude that it is a test or trial or that God is allowing it to grow him spiritually.
If someone is suffering as a result of a particular sin or lifestyle that he indulged in before he became a believer or as a result of repented and forsaken sins even as a believer, the blood of Jesus has cleansed Him of past sins and forsaken sins and he needs to have faith in the blood of Jesus and pray for deliverance because the blood of Jesus has set him free. He must cry out for his birthright like the widow.
But whoever does not have them is nearsighted and blind, forgetting that they have been cleansed from their past sins. 2 Peter 1:9
Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up. He said: “In a certain town there was a judge who neither feared God nor cared what people thought. And there was a widow in that town who kept coming to him with the plea, ‘Grant me justice against my adversary.’
“For some time he refused. But finally he said to himself, ‘Even though I don’t fear God or care what people think, yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will see that she gets justice, so that she won’t eventually come and attack me!’ ”
And the Lord said, “Listen to what the unjust judge says. And will not God bring about justice for his chosen ones, who cry out to him day and night? Will he keep putting them off? I tell you, he will see that they get justice, and quickly. However, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?” Luke 18:1-8
A believer can suffer simply because he refuses to grow spiritually. This is what is happening in the Scripture at the top. A believer can also suffer because his faith is being tested. When his faith becomes pure, the test disappears because the purpose of the test has been achieved. Pure faith leads to absolute confidence and dependence on God and also leads to perfect and mature love. Mature faith gives birth to mature purity, love and works.
So that you may be innocent and pure as God’s perfect children, who live in a world of corrupt and sinful people. You must shine among them like stars lighting up the sky, Philippians 2:15
Faith is inward and purity, love and works are outward. Love is an expression of faith. What is in the heart will always be proved by the outward actions, behaviours and attitudes. By their fruits you shall know them. Faith is not an isolated variable but expresses itself in a pure lifestyle. Faith is multidimensional and multifaceted. We won’t be perfect like God is perfect but we can become acceptable and blameless in the sight of God the way Job and Paul were.
For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision has any value. The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love. Galatians 5:6 NIV
For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision counts for anything, but only faith working through love. Galatians 5:6 ESV
God has a standard and Paul said imitate me as I imitate Christ. This means he was sure of his walk with God. If we can reach the standard of Paul, we have tried however, if we can reach the standard that Jesus walked in, glory to God! We must also never forget that it is by the grace of God not by our own power.
And the Lord said to Satan, “Have you considered my servant Job, that there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, who fears God and turns away from evil?” (Job 1:8 ESV)
You are witnesses, and so is God, of how holy, righteous and blameless we were among you who believed. 1 Thessalonians 2:9
You worshipped God, and your life was blameless; and so you should have confidence and hope. Job 4:6
There is godly sorrow that leads to repentance and there is sorrow that leads to death. We must never confuse the two and must pray to God for deliverance and healing. Children born with infirmities, children afflicted with deadly illnesses, and other perplexing conditions do not fall under godly sorrow.
Godly sorrow will always be something that does not kill but can make you very uncomfortable to seek God more. A typical example of godly sorrow is Paul’s thorn in the flesh. I have clarified this so that people don’t mix the two up. Any sorrow that can lead to death must be treated medically and with prayer by persistent asking.
The Holy Spirit is the only one that can reveal to you the cause, reason and solution to your suffering or poverty, never conclude on your own that it is godly sorrow without the Holy Spirit’s wisdom and revelation. When I went through afflictions, the Holy Spirit had told me that I would go through serious trials. I remember that I was never afraid that the challenges would kill me even though at the time, I forgot what the Holy Spirit said.
The Holy Spirit is our leader and must be the one that reveals it all. This is the reason that victory in Christ is impossible if you are not led by the Holy Spirit.
The scripture at the top, talks of physical poverty so in that Scripture, physical poverty is the trial and thorn that the believer is experiencing. These believers are those who will be put in prison to be tested. I believe the prison is a spiritual prison of trials and tribulations not physical prisons.
However, the Lord assures them that they are spiritually rich and He also encourages them to be faithful unto death so as to receive the crown of life. May we never give up our faith when we are under trials and may we always ask for the grace to overcome.