Summary: 23rd in a series from Ephesians. God uses suffering for our benefit and for the benefit of others.
When Mary and I went to Kauai for our 25th anniversary, I came across a t-shirt that was imprinted with Kimo’s Kauai Rules. In fact, I liked the t-shirt and the rules so much that I not only bought the shirt, but when I returned from that trip I also preached a series of ten sermons based on the ten rules. But you can imagine what that shirt came to look like after five years of frequent wear. So, I was excited to pick up a new shirt on our trip last month.
When I first came across the rules I tried to do some research to determine who originated the rules, but that was a more difficult task than I imagined. The only thing I know for sure is that a company called Night Owl T-Shirts copyrighted the rules in 1991. In fact, you may be able to see their copyright on the back of my shirt. They have also registered a trademark for the last rule and tagline: “No rain – No rainbows.” The owner of the company, Rita Peeters says the list of 10 sayings was handed over to Nite Owl for reproduction in 1991 by Kimo Krogfoss, philosophy professor and frequent visitor to Kaua‘i. However, there is also some evidence the rules may have come from an unpublished novel by Charles Knief about a Honolulu policeman and his family titled Kim’s Rules.
So unfortunately there is really no way to know if the originator of the rules was a Christian. But it sure seems to me that the rules certainly reflect Biblical principles. Here are the ten rules:
1. Never judge a day by the weather.
2. The best things in life aren’t things.
3. Tell the truth – there’s less to remember.
4. Speak softly and wear a loud shirt.
5. Goals are deceptive - the unaimed arrow never misses.
6. He who dies with the most toys - still dies.
7. Age is relative - when you’re over the hill, you picked up speed.
8. There are two ways to be rich - make more or desire less.
9. Beauty is internal – looks mean nothing
10. No rain - No rainbows.
That last rule, which has also become the registered tagline, certainly could have been written by the Apostle Paul. In fact, that may very well be a pretty good summary of the verse we’re going to look at this morning as we continue our journey through Ephesians. Let’s read that verse out loud together:
I ask you, therefore, not to be discouraged because of my sufferings for you, which are your glory.
Ephesians 3:13 (NIV)
This is another one of those verses that is actually pretty straight forward, but I’d like to share with you a few observations about suffering that come from our understanding of this passage.
SOME OBSERVATIONS ABOUT SUFFERING
1. As a follower of Christ, I will experience suffering
Paul began this chapter by describing himself as a prisoner of Christ Jesus”, a reference to the fact that he was a prisoner in a Roman jail. But I don’t think that Paul was surprised at the trials he was experiencing. After his conversion experience on the road to Damascus, the Lord appeared to a man named Ananias and used him to deliver a message to Paul:
But the Lord said to Ananias, "Go! This man is my chosen instrument to carry my name before the Gentiles and their kings and before the people of Israel. I will show him how much he must suffer for my name."
Acts 9:15, 16 (NIV)
At the very beginning of his life as a follower of Jesus Christ, one of the very first things that he learns from God is that he is going to suffer for the name of Jesus.
Just before He went to the cross, Jesus also warned His followers that they would experience suffering as long as they remained here on this earth.
…In this world you will have trouble…
John 16:33 (NIV)
And just in case the words of Jesus to both Paul and His other followers aren’t enough to confirm this principle, let’s also take a quick look at the words of James:
Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds,
James 1:2 (NIV)
I’d like you to underline the word “whenever” in that verse. Notice that James didn’t write “if” you face trials. He wrote “whenever” you face them. In other words, suffering and trials are inevitable, even in the lives of believers.
Too many times, we, as Christians, have been guilty of telling people that if they just commit their lives to Jesus all their problems will go away. But the Bible teaches just the opposite. One can make a pretty good case from the passages we’ve just looked at and the other examples in the Scriptures that those who commit their lives to God often experience more suffering in their lives. The advantage that God’s children have is not that they experience less suffering, but rather that they have God’s presence in their lives to help them through those rough times.