Monday, August 29, 2016
In His Sermon on the Mount, the Beatitudes in particular, Jesus spoke of the blessedness of God for all who have Christ-like qualities such as the meek, pure in heart, poor in spirit, and mournful, among others. Apart from having the blessings of God upon them, for all who possessed these godly traits there was an eternal promise attached to it. It seems to me, however, that Jesus saved the toughest Christ-like characteristic to emulate and perhaps the one with the greatest promise and the highest degree of blessedness, to include at the end of the Beatitudes. I am referring to this one: “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) The deeper one goes in his or her service to God, the greater the probability of being rejected, persecuted, criticized, or slandered. In fact, the stronger our stand for Christ, the stronger the enemy’s blows against us.
Because we are human, we sometimes subconsciously feel that the whole world is going to love and appreciate us because we are actively involved in ministry. And the ones who we feel are those who will love, understand, and stand up for us, are often the ones who attack us the most. We must never forget Jesus’s declaration that if the world hated Him it will hate His followers as well. Neither can we forget that when these pointed signs of opposition come against us, the real perpetrator is the devil and his demons. In other words, our fight against evil is never against human beings. (see Ephesians 6:12) Again, because we are human, it is easy for us to lash out and defend ourselves against those who attack us. That is when our new nature in Christ within us should surface.
The next time we experience undue criticism or false accusations, may we remember Christ’s reference to His prophets of old, that they suffered worse things yet never gave up. He implied that just as they received a great eternal reward for it, so will all those today who do the same. On that day, may we remember that it is the Lord who will defend us, cover us, and fight our battle. And if He fights our battles, who can overcome against Him? In closing, do you want to be stronger against the enemy’s attacks the next time they come against you? Here’s one way: A good Little League coach will always set this rule for his players when the other team is at bat: Be aware of the present situation before every pitch and imagine that the ball is about to come in your direction. This way, you’ll know in advance what your play will be. You can follow that same process. Imagine that today you will be attacked in some way. Now ask the Lord to make you as filled with His Spirit, as were the old time prophets. This way, you’ll react as a genuine child of God and not as you did before. This formula always works.
God’s promise for today: (Isaiah 54:17) “No weapon forged against you will prevail, and you will refute every tongue that accuses you. This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord, and this is their vindication from me,” declares the Lord.