How the Reviled Become What They Really Are

| Wed, Sep 18, 2013 | Set 3 Week 38

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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 5:11–12

As we saw two weeks ago, the blessed people of the Beatitudes are humbled people. Then last week, we saw more clearly what it means to be blessed and to be rewarded. Now we turn to the last Beatitude of this passage.

It takes great humility to gladly receive mean-spirited, unfair, false accusations from revilers, persecutors, and evil enemies of God. And it takes even greater humility to not revile in return, to not even respond neutrally by ignoring such people, but, positively, to bless those who curse us (Luke 6:28).

So, how can Jesus say that such people who endure wrongdoing are happy or blessed (makarios)? The reason doesn’t come until verse 12. The reason you can rejoice—the reason you can respond with great gladness to potent pain—is because “your reward is great in heaven.” God himself is your reward. The pure in heart see God himself (verse 8). God himself is the goal for the prize of our upward call in Christ (Philippians 3:14).

That is what I mean by becoming what the reviled really are. They really are happy or blessed already. But they are still called—indeed commanded—to rejoice and be deeply glad. It’s as if Jesus said, “Be glad as those who are glad!”

As we pursue such joy, we know that we stand in a long line of godly people who were willing to proclaim God’s message and who were, therefore, rewarded. Or, as Hebrews 11:16 says, such people “desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God [himself!] is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared for them a city.”

Join this cloud of witnesses who embrace suffering for Christ’s sake, not because this world makes us happy, but because we have a lasting city that is better. “Therefore let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken” (Hebrews 12:28). Rejoice and be glad, O happy ones, even in the face of personal calamity.


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