Listen to today’s devo!

If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied. (1 Cor. 15:19)

Over time, we can believe that God is comfortable with the same people, convictions, and comforts that we are. When we shape a god in our own image, we can grow to believe that life in Christ is (ultimately) not that different from the kind of life we would find easy. The problem is: God’s convictions are often different from ours.

Christ loves people we don’t find lovely. Habits of confession, sacrifice, and openness to others are often unnatural. That’s okay. The habits of holiness are built (first) as a labor of great effort, and (later) as a reflex of love. These are not things that enhance the comfort of this life, precisely because worldly pleasures are not the ultimate pleasures God cares about. Jesus’ life is an exercise in prioritizing others—experiencing poverty, traveling without a home of his own, being present among those considered “unclean”—Jesus lived sacrificially. If we follow Jesus’ mission, we won’t be exempt from sacrifice.

We don’t need to seek out suffering; life will bring enough of that on its own. We need not glorify sacrifice for its own sake, either. Jesus himself prayed to be delivered from it. When we experience the discomfort of obedience, however, it can be helpful to see these as “growing pains,” stretching us toward the habits of heaven we hope to take on in this life.

Write a thank you to someone who has served faithfully in difficult circumstances.

Ethan Linder is the pastor of collegians and young adults at College Wesleyan Church (IN) and contributing editor for Education & Clergy Development of The Wesleyan Church.

© 2022 Wesleyan Publishing House. Reprinted from Light from the Word. Used by permission. Scriptures taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®.