by Rev Campbell Markham on behalf of Rev John Wilson, Moderator General of the Presbyterian Church of Australia
Being insulted? Rejoice and be glad!
“Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you” (Matthew 5:10-12).
My guess is that you’ve read this passage five hundred times. And only now is it coming to life.
You said something about marriage, for example, and people defriended you. Or some stranger slapped you down. An old schoolmate has told you that you’ve changed for the worse, that you’re thinking is “scary” and they can no longer talk to you. Your work colleagues treat you as though you’re mean. A sister has sent you a long and angry text message. A husband has lashed out with angry words when you try to talk about things.
None of these examples are hypotheticals, I have seen them all.
How do you respond?
You feel ashamed. You second-guess yourself, “Maybe they’re right?” You wake up in the night with that gnawing feeling, and there’s no getting back to sleep.
Shame turns to anger. “They don’t know me!” “They’re the ones who have changed. I believe what I’ve always believed!”
Anger turns to anxiety. You are worried. You have lost your joy. And you are sorely tempted to find refuge in prideful superiority over others.
Listen to Jesus!
If you are persecuted for righteousness sake (the word ‘persecute’ can mean to pursue, or hunt down), then you are blessed! You are to be congratulated! You of all people are one of the happy ones! Why? Because the kingdom of heaven is yours.
In Jewish writings at the time, “heaven” was a beautiful way of referring to God himself.
Are you persecuted? You are blessed because it shows that heaven is yours: that you belong to God, and that God belongs to you.
You have God, and so you have everything: abundant light and life, joy, peace, and eternal security.
Do people revile or insult you, because of your Christian convictions? Do they lie about you? Do they think of you as a bad or mean person for believing what Jesus says?
Jesus does not say, “Do not be anxious or angry.” Listen carefully to him. He goes far, far beyond “not being angry.”
He says “Rejoice!” “Be glad!” “They treated my beloved servants of old like that. And the fact you’re getting the same treatment means that you have the same Spirit as them, and the same glorious destiny as them.”
Are you being persecuted? Believe what Jesus says, and rejoice! Rejoice on the inside, and rejoice on the outside.
And when people want to know why you rejoice when you’re under pressure, then you get to tell them the best thing they’ll ever hear:
“I’m happy because I belong to Jesus. He died and rose for me. He is looking after me now, and forever. You can know him too.”
Dear Heavenly Father, You know our suffering better than we do. We confess that we are prone to getting anxious, upset, and even proud when people attack us with their words. We repent of this. Please fill us with your Holy Spirit, and help us to respond to these attacks in the same way as Jesus – with patience, love, and visible joy. I pray in His Name, Amen.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q-8VC9868Qc – Prayer for Strength
Canberra Declaration Daily Prayer Points for October
- A Miracle for Marriage
- Truth to be Exposed
- A Spirit of Repentance in the Church
- Revival and Transformation in our Nation
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