Revelation 1:9 I, John, your brother and companion (sharer and participator) with you in the tribulation and kingdom and patient endurance [which are] in Jesus Christ, was on the isle called Patmos, [banished] on account of [my witnessing to] the Word of God and the testimony (the proof, the evidence) for Jesus Christ. (Amp)
The beloved John endured tribulation with many first century Christians. This is suffering that Christ told His followers that would be encountered by those who followed Him, because this world system is against Him. Three specific kinds of suffering that Christians could expect are spelled out in the Scriptures (as best as I, in my imperfect way can see). One, there would be suffering because man originally disobeyed God as described in Genesis three when the forbidden fruit was eaten and the curse incurred. Two, there is that suffering that the world imposes upon followers of Christ due to this world’s rejection of Christ. Three, there is the ‘blessed’ suffering that the Father impresses on a way-ward Christian who needs to better learn to follow God’s will (Hebrews 12: 5- 8). I call the last suffering ‘blessed’ because this isn’t really suffering to be discouraged by, but encouraged, because our Father doesn’t want us to suffer, but because none of us are perfect, He instructs us by discipline, and from this we learn that He is teaching us when we are wrong.
There is a form of suffering practiced by some that is self-inflicted such as self-flagellation. This is completely out of character with Christ’s teachings. Some believe that by bringing suffering on themselves they can be ‘self-atoning’. Jesus is the only atonement for making people right with God. Now, one may strengthen one’s self by hard practice, which could be practiced to the point that one feels suffering from its effects, but this is not the same as inflicting suffering on one’s self to atone for sin. To believe that one can atone for his own sins would mean that a person is not relying on the faith that Christ’s death atoned for him completely.
Revelation 3:14 And to the angel (messenger) of the assembly (church) in Laodicea write: These are the words of the Amen, the trusty and faithful and true Witness, the Origin and Beginning and Author of God's creation: 15 I know your [record of] works and what you are doing; you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were cold or hot! 16 So, because you are lukewarm and neither cold nor hot, I will spew you out of My mouth! 17 For you say, I am rich; I have prospered and grown wealthy, and I am in need of nothing; and you do not realize and understand that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked. (Amp)
Who is it in this church who has ‘prospered and grown wealthy’?
1st Timothy 6:3 But if anyone teaches otherwise and does not assent to the sound and wholesome messages of our Lord Jesus Christ (the Messiah) and the teaching which is in agreement with godliness (piety toward God), 4 He is puffed up with pride and stupefied with conceit, [although he is] woefully ignorant. He has a morbid fondness for controversy and disputes and strife about words, which result in (produce) envy and jealousy, quarrels and dissension, abuse and insults and slander, and base suspicions, 5 And protracted wrangling and wearing discussion and perpetual friction among men who are corrupted in mind and bereft of the truth, who imagine that godliness or righteousness is a source of profit [a moneymaking business, a means of livelihood]. From such withdraw. (Amp)
If one is not to imagine that ‘godliness or righteousness is a source of profit’, then one certainly shouldn’t expect to teach godliness and righteousness with the intent of becoming wealthy. Those who minister for the church should certainly be entitled to a very comfortable living, but I very much try to avoid ministers (Osteen, etc.) who have become very wealthy from the donations of many poor people to promote the cause of Christ. The cause of Christ is not to make the church wealthy (as in the Vatican, for instance, and many evangelists who obtain great wealth from preaching). The cause of Christ is to reach lost souls for the kingdom and to minister to the needs of people in the name of Christ. There are so many needy people in this world, and it is a gross sin to use funds for the cause of Christ to bring personal enrichment. Even though some may say that their salaries don’t come from donations (perhaps they come from book sales, etc.), if one is dedicated to the cause of Christ, then he should expect to share much of his own wealth with others, just as those sending donations are doing, and especially if he is pleading for people to send donations.
1st Timothy 6:17 As for the rich in this world, charge them not to be proud and arrogant and contemptuous of others, nor to set their hopes on uncertain riches, but on God, Who richly and ceaselessly provides us with everything for [our] enjoyment. 18 [Charge them] to do good, to be rich in good works, to be liberal and generous of heart, ready to share [with others], 19 In this way laying up for themselves [the riches that endure forever as] a good foundation for the future, so that they may grasp that which is life indeed. (Amp)
Christians are taught to love others as themselves, so if one loves so many people, and there are so many who are so needy, then that love means sharing of themselves. If I love you, but I am very comfortable, and you are in need, then how could I be so comfortable if someone I ‘love’ is so much in need? Christians are to be known by their love. How can you love someone, and keep for yourself, when those you claim to love are in need?