“Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.” – Matthew 5:11-12 (NIV)
Today’s passage is a perfect example of the truth that how we live today will impact our eternity. Jesus was encouraging His followers, letting them know that choosing to follow Him completely meant they would face opposition. That opposition might include insults, attacks, and lies. Jesus was and is honest with those who would follow Him, letting us know up front that it is not an easy thing to follow after Him.
Knowing we will face opposition and bucking up under it to endure it is one thing. But Jesus says that in the midst of any opposition we can rejoice and be glad. But how in the world could anyone find joy and gladness when they are being lied about, insulted and attacked? It hurts when family, friends, and culture attack because they don’t understand what God is trying to do in and through us!
Jesus helps us in today’s passage to understand that joy and gladness come not from the moment, but from a heart that is focused on its eternal destiny. Jesus said we can find joy and gladness because we know that one day, our eternal existence will begin unadulterated in His presence, and there is reward for the one who will follow, even though it means persecution.
Your next step with God may find its opposition in some pagan person, but many times it is found in those we know and love the most on planet earth. They may not realize, understand or want to accept what God is calling you to do. The key to accomplishing God’s will and even being able to find joy and gladness in spite of their opposition is keeping an eye on heaven… the place where someday we will meet up with the Lord face to face to hear Him say “Well done, good and faithful servant.” (Matthew 25:21)
Talk to God today about whose praise you are really most interested in. Is it the praise of God, or the praise of somebody or some group of people here on planet earth. If there is someone that is keeping you from stepping out toward your next step with God, confess that to the Lord. Begin preparing now to let others know that though you love them, you have a love for Christ that is greater.