The apostle Paul encouraged Timothy not to faint or falter in his work of faith. “Endure hardness as a good soldier of Jesus Christ” (2 Tim. 2:3). “Endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist” (2 Tim. 4:5). It is easy to preach before admiring and receptive audiences. It is not difficult to reprove, rebuke, and refute error when there is no opposition. The true test of any man occurs when, though his cause and course is just, he is faced with unfair opponents, unjust criticism, and unscrupulous methods.
“Sunshine patriots” are those who sing and shout their country’s praise and pledge their undying opposition to tyrannous enemies, but who run and hide when the tide of battle goes against them. The same thing can happen to a church, to elders, to preachers. When all is well, we sing the songs of Zion with great zest. When there is peace, we esteem our elders and praise our preachers. However, at the first sign of trouble, we may turn in discontent against our brethren. Israel often did this. They loved the Lord, adored Aaron, and magnified Moses, but when suffering and hardship came, they verbally vilified them (Ex. 16:1-8; Num. 11:1; 14:2).
We are all familiar with Patrick Henry’s Revolutionary War era statement, “Give me liberty, or give me death.” He backed up his words with his “life, his fortune and his sacred honor.” Those today who would turn tail and run for cover when the enemies of the cross rattle their sabers, remind me of the young man who was eager to join the army and fight. He was ready for battle, but when the fray was ready to commence, and he heard his comrades shout, “Give me liberty, or give me death,” the awful reality of it began to sink in. He did not want to die that badly. So, he suggested, “Can we not say, `Give me liberty, or just rough me up a little’”?
How shall it be with us in the Lord’s army? Serving under “the Captain of our salvation,” do we shout, “Give me liberty in the truth, or give me death”? Or, do we say, “Give me freedom in Christ, or just rough me up a little”? –Larry Ray Hafely; www.biblework.com