In the book of Acts, when the Lord calls Ananias to pray for Saul, he gives him this insight.

“I will show him how much he must suffer for my name.”

Acts 9:16 (NIV)

It makes sense that Saul (Paul) would suffer greatly because he persecuted the Church and stood by while Stephen was murdered, right? Just as murderers, rapists, and child molesters have more to atone for than those of us who are liars, thieves, and adulterers. After all, cheating on your spouse and lying about it isn’t as bad as murdering someone, right? If Paul had to suffer greatly because of what he did, then surely those who have done great harm have to as well. 

Fortunately for us, Jesus was once asked a question about those sinners who are worse than us, so let’s see what Jesus had to say.

Jesus answered, “Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans because they suffered this way? I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish.

Luke 13:2-3 (NIV)

That means that all of those murderers and rapists out there are no worse than us regarding how their sin is presented before God. If we’re not sure about that, let’s see if another verse backs up that notion.

Anyone who does wrong will be repaid for their wrongs, and there is no favoritism.

Colossians 3:25 (NIV)

In addition to Colossians 3:25, which assures us there’s no favoritism with God, we also have Ephesians 6:9, Romans 2:11, Leviticus 19:15, Exodus 23:3, and 1 Timothy 5:21 that promise us that God doesn’t show or like favoritism. Oh, and let’s not forget James 2:8-9 tells us anyone who shows partiality is a law-breaker. Did I mention Acts 10:34-35 which also assures us that there’s no favoritism with God? 

Suppose God doesn’t show favoritism, and causing one person to suffer more or less because of what they’ve done after they’ve repented is favoritism: just not the sort of favoritism we might think of. What did the Lord mean when we said Paul would suffer greatly for Jesus’ name? 

Paul answered this question in his second letter to Timothy.

You, however, know all about my teaching, my way of life, my purpose, faith, patience, love, endurance, persecutions, sufferings—what kinds of things happened to me in Antioch, Iconium and Lystra, the persecutions I endured. Yet the Lord rescued me from all of them. In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted (emphasis added).

2 Timothy 10-12 (NIV)

Suffering and persecution go hand-in-hand. Even if we don’t realize it. Some things happen to you as a Christian that wouldn’t have happened to you if you were not saved because not all persecution is apparent and evident to us. 

Another reason Paul suffered greatly for Jesus was as a testimony to us. Indeed, we have Jesus’ suffering on the cross as an example to us, but that was Jesus’ suffering. He could take it because he is the Son of God, and suffering for our sin was laid upon him. However, Scripture gives us this intelligence. 

Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.”

Matthew 16:24 (NIV)

As followers of Christ, we must take up our cross each day, and part of taking up our cross is to suffer for doing so. Yet, when we suffer, and God gets us through it, we also have a testimony we can share with others to glorify God and comfort them. Revelations tells us this about our testimonies. 

They triumphed over him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony; they did not love their lives so much as to shrink from death.

Revelation 12:11 (NIV)

Therefore, in Acts 9:16, when the Lord told Ananias about Paul suffering for Jesus’ name, it wasn’t because of anything Paul had done before he was saved. The same goes for us. While some of us still suffer through the consequence of things we did before we were saved, it’s not any “extra” punishment from God that we’re walking through. 

Do you know God? God knows you, and he loves you. He sees you as significant because you are. No one is insignificant to Him. He’s with you today, and he wants you to know him. Jesus died for your sins and mine so we could be free of guilt, freed from death, and live eternally with him. Eternal salvation is just a prayer away.

Pray this prayer with me to accept the gift of salvation:

Lord Jesus, forgive me for all my sins. I repent from my ways. Wash me in your blood and cleanse me from all unrighteousness. I believe that you died on the cross, were buried, and on the third day, God the Father raised you from the dead. Right now, Lord Jesus, I open the door to my heart and receive you into my heart as my Lord and personal Savior. Amen.

If you prayed that prayer, then congratulations! You are on the first step of a brand new life. Allow me to be the first to welcome you to my family, the family of God. There are abundant resources available online for new Christians. You can visit here for more information on what to do next. You can also leave me a comment, and I’ll do my best to help you on the next step of this incredible journey.