When you think about suffering, what comes to mind? Do you envision bedraggled children with distended stomachs, a hospital patient hooked up to life-sustaining medical equipment, or a courageous veteran dealing with the aftermath of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.  Adversity seems to be a common denominator to human existence, but what does the Bible have to say about suffering?

Jesus spoke to His disciples about suffering. One of the most well-known verses reads, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me” (Matthew 16:24 ESV). The Greek word for cross in this verse is staurós. It refers to the crossbeam which the lowest criminals carried as they trudged toward their execution. The cross symbolized degradation and indescribable pain as well as sacrifice.

While the invitation to eternal life is free, it comes at a price–certain suffering.


Introduction: This passage exhorts the Christian to pursue some of the primary attributes of the Christian.

The Text: Psalm 26

Vindicate me, Lord, for I have led a blameless life; I have trusted in the Lord and have not faltered.
Test me, Lord, and try me, examine my heart and my mind;
for I have always been mindful of your
unfailing love and have lived in reliance on your faithfulness.

I do not sit with the deceitful, nor do I associate with hypocrites.
I abhor the assembly of evildoers and refuse to sit with the wicked.
I wash my hands in innocence, and go about your altar, Lord,
proclaiming aloud your praise and telling of all your wonderful deeds.

Lord, I love the house where you live, the place where your glory dwells.
Do not take away my soul along with sinners, my life with those who are bloodthirsty,
10 in whose hands are wicked schemes, whose right hands are full of bribes.
11 I lead a blameless life; deliver me and be merciful to me.

12 My feet stand on level ground; in the great congregation I will praise the Lord.

Psalm 26 offers us three attributes of the Christian.

  1. The Christian is confidently in relationship with God “in Christ” (vv. 1-3). (MULTILINE REVEAL SMALL)
  2. The Chrisitan feels dissonance with the world and does not participate in the world’s ways (vv. 4-5). (MULTILINE REVEAL SMALL)
  3. The Christian is intimately connected to their local church (vv. 6-8). (MULTILINE REVEAL SMALL)


Lord, form us into the image of Christ!


Sunday Text Questions

Read the text aloud and discuss together any significant observations or issues needing clarification.

  1. How would you answer (and defend) this question: Is the Bible written primarily for the non-believer or for the believer?(MULTILINE REVEAL SMALL)
  2. Read Galatians 2:20 and then read vv. 1-3. How does Paul’s instruction that “Christ lives in me” explain how the Psalmist might be able to say what he does?(MULTILINE REVEAL SMALL)
  3. Vs. 4-5 reflect Jesus’ instructions that Christians live “in but not of the world” (John 17:15-16). How would you put into practice what the Psalmist describes in those verses?(MULTILINE REVEAL SMALL)
  4. Why is it so hard to live “in but not of the world,” and how can we recognize in our own lives areas or ways we are being discipled or directed by the world and not by biblical Christianity?(MULTILINE REVEAL SMALL)
  5. What would a mature and healthy Christian’s participation in the local church look like? Is your participation in the Body of Christ mature and healthy?(MULTILINE REVEAL SMALL)
  6. In what other ways, if any, did this passage speak into your life to teach, rebuke, correct, or train you in righteousness (cf. 2 Timothy 3:16)?(MULTILINE REVEAL SMALL)

Further study this week: Passages related to the message of this week’s text: Romans 12:2 (Mon); 1 John 2:15-17 (Tues); 1 Corinthians 15:33 (Wed); 1 Peter 2:9 (Thurs); 2 Corinthians 6:14-18 (Fri).