Summer 2024

THE INCREASE: Jerry Birch - Willing to Suffer

“For it has been granted to you on behalf of Christ not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for Him.” — Philippians 1:29

What are your passions for the Kingdom of God? Be careful before you answer. I didn’t ask what are you zealous about. Biblically speaking, these are different questions.

Zeal comes from a Greek word “zelos” and has the root idea of fire, as in “What gets you fired up?” The wisdom of Proverbs 23:17 instructs, “Do not let your heart envy sinners, but always be zealous for the fear of the Lord.” In other words, be on fire for God! Yet, Paul says this against his Hebrew brothers: “For I can testify about them that they are zealous for God, but their zeal is not based on knowledge” (Romans 10:2). They indeed were on fire for God, but ignorant of the Gospel.

Passion, on the other hand, comes from the Greek word “pascho,” which means to suffer. Among other verses, it’s found in Luke 24:46: “He told them, ‘This is what is written: The Christ will suffer (pascho) and rise from the dead on the third day.’” The last week of Jesus’ ministry on earth is referred to as “The Passion of Christ,” because it is all about the suffering He endured surrounding His arrest, crucifixion and death for the forgiveness of our sins and the redemption of our souls.

So what are you passionate about when it comes to the Kingdom of God? What are you willing to suffer for?

Jerry Birch, Cleveland Cavaliers chaplain

The Increase, part of the Sports Spectrum Network, is a community of Christian pro athletes sharing their personal stories of the decrease of self and the increase of Christ (John 3:30). Visit for more stories and videos.