Why do you exist? What energizes your actions? How do you account for your life and behavior and the choices you make throughout the course of a day? My answer to those questions, and I hope yours as well, is that it’s all for his name’s sake.
In his letter to the church at Ephesus, Jesus commended the believers there for “enduring patiently and bearing up for my name’s sake” (Rev. 2:3). People all over the world endure pain for any number of reasons, some of which are noble and others not. Some persevere for profit and others to elicit compassion for themselves. But Jesus makes it clear that, for the Christian, endurance under duress is never an end in itself. Suffering for suffering’s sake is stupid, if not a sign of mental illness. Jesus commends the Ephesian believers because their motivation was the fame of the name of Christ. That is to say, they endured with a view to making known, especially to their persecutors, that Jesus was a treasure of far greater worth than whatever physical or financial comfort their denial of him might bring.
This same passion to see and savor Jesus alone accounted for Paul’s unqualified and otherwise inexplicable decision to turn his back on earthly achievements: “whatever gain I had,” said Paul, “I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith” (Phil. 3:7-9). Did you see it? It was for his sake, as it also was for the Ephesians.