When Paul told the church in Colossae, “Now I rejoice in my sufferings for you,” he was not revealing himself as some kind of sadist. He was not so spiritual that he didn’t care about trivial things like hot food and creature comforts and, you know, not being in prison all the time. He wasn’t so consumed by Scripture that he was oblivious to what was going on around him.

I’m sure Paul loved all the physical comforts of the world, just like the rest of us, but here he is modeling for us one of the most profound ways we will live out our salvation: joyful sacrifice.

Joyful sacrifice is giving up something you love for something you love even more. Paul loved seeing people come to Christ even more than he loved his personal freedoms or personal comfort. And if he had to give up the latter to get the former, he’d happily do it.

It makes me think of the family in our church who recently moved to Malawi. They were pretty candid as they shared with me about the difficulty of giving up their home and leaving a lot of their comforts and relationships—and even their dog—so that people who have never heard the gospel can hear it and respond in faith. They aren’t doing this because they’re so super-spiritual that they’ve ceased caring about their extended family, their community of friends, or their high-speed internet.

They’re doing it because, in their words, “Jesus is worth it. The kingdom of God is worth it. Lost people are worth it.”

You rejoice in suffering when you love what you gain through suffering more than what you are giving up in suffering.

Before the birth of our first child, people always told me, “Oh, childbirth—it’s so beautiful.” Having been present during four childbirths now, I can tell you that there isn’t really anything “beautiful” about the birth process itself. Frankly, it’s kind of scary. There were things I saw that would make the movie Saw seem like a Disney film. I remember looking around at the doctors like, “Is this normal? Y’all are okay with what’s happening right now?” I stood there wondering, “When does the beautiful part start?”

Who would go through all of that voluntarily and even call the whole process beautiful?

Almost every mom I know.

They would wave away the thought of their suffering and say to their child, “If that’s what it took to bring you into the world, I rejoice in my suffering for your sake. It’s totally worth it.”

Paul said to the Colossians, “This is how I feel about you spiritually. I rejoice in my suffering because of what I know it is producing in you. I’ll do whatever it takes—pay whatever price I must pay—for you to know Jesus.”

Joyful sacrifice is giving up something you love for something you love even more.