Be Ready to Trust Christ
“Do not fear any of those things which you are about to suffer .. . . Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life.”
—Revelation 2:10, emphasis added
“Smyrna” is a very interesting word because it is derived from the Greek word smurna that is translated “myrrh.” Myrrh is an aromatic resin taken from a thorny tree, and was the chief product of this city, the seaport of Myrrh. It was taken by hacking the tree with a machete. Wherever the tree was cut, it would exude the resin. The more it was cut the more this very expensive resin would flow out. Myrrh thus became associated with suffering because this beautiful tree would be attacked and cut and scarred.
In this town where myrrh was gathered, we think of the church that was going to face the cutting edge of persecution. In fact, Jesus essentially told them, “Some of you who receive My letter are going to be put into jail. Some of you are going to be persecuted. Some of you are going to die.” Each one of these declarations was like a cut on the tree of the church there.
Today’s true church is not exempt from persecution either, because Christ has said that all who live godly will suffer persecution (2 Timothy 3:12). The more we are cut, the more we are persecuted, and the more we are facing hard times, the more Christ wants the sweet-smelling fragrance of faithfulness to exude out of our lives.
What happens when we get tested? A friend of mine says that all of us are spiritual teabags: when we get dunked up and down in hot water, whatever is inside of us comes out. This past week, if things got hot, tense, tight, and hard, what came out of your life? Was it the aroma of Christlike myrrh? Or was it something less than that?
This Smyrnean church, which represents the suffering period of church history, had a sweet-smelling fragrance unto the Lord. As we just saw, the name “Smyrna” was derived from a Greek word translated “myrrh.” Myrrh was always associated with the sufferings of Jesus’ life. At Christ’s birth, the Magi gave gold, frankincense, and myrrh to Jesus, who was crushed for our sins. We see a notable example of that in Mark 15:23 While Christ hung on the cross He was offered a sponge filled with wine mixed with myrrh. Because myrrh also served as an anesthetic, His crucifiers were trying to dull His senses to lessen the intense pain He was experiencing. Jesus refused it, however, because He wanted to have full sensation of the pain He suffered for us.
Suffering is an opportunity to choose whether we believe that serving Christ is far better than anything we could ever have. Are you willing to suffer for Christ? Paul said, The sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us (Romans 8:18). If we suffer with Christ, we will also be glorified with Him (Romans 8:17).
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