Are you living for eternity, or are you living for today?
Luke 6:22-23 Blessed are you when men hate you,
And when they exclude you,
And revile you, and cast out your name as evil,
For the Son of Man’s sake.
Rejoice in that day and leap for joy!
For indeed your reward is great in heaven,
For in like manner their fathers did to the prophets.
Jesus presented values that were contrary to the thinking of the day, and this is a perfect example. The world doesn’t say the hated, excluded, reviled, and cast out are blessed. The world says these people are cursed.
What’s Jesus describing?
- “Excluded” from synagogue or temple worship. The Amplified says, “when people…exclude you[from their fellowship].” The parallel for today would be getting kicked out of some religious circles, because you’re too conservative or too bibilical. It’s tragic that in some Christian groups today – and I use the word “Christian” loosely – if you talk about sin, repentance, or holiness, you can find yourself excluded. Suddenly you’re legalistic, judgmental, hateful, or self-righteous.
- “Reviled” and having “your name cast out as evil”are synonyms for being slandered. If you take a stand for Christ, people might try to destroy your reputation.
Jesus compares persecuted believers with prophets:
- This puts us in good company—the prophets were some of the most faithful men in the Old Testament. Being compared with them is a wonderful compliment.
- The prophets were fairly eccentric. They lived and acted differently than others, and they were persecuted for this. Believers should live and act differently than unbelievers. This is part of being holy, or set apart, and it might lead to persecution too.
- Prophets were hated, excluded, reviled, and slandered for speaking the truth. If you speak the truth today, you’re probably going to be hated, excluded, reviled, and slandered. The truth offends people, and when they get offended, they lash out at the messenger instead of the message.
But Jesus says when people suffer for Him, they should not just rejoice, but actually leap for joy.
1 Peter 4:13 Rejoice to the extent that you partake of Christ’s sufferings.
Luke 6:23 and 1 Peter 4:13 are present tense. We can rejoice in the moment we’re persecuted, because we can think about our “great reward in heaven.” The Amplified says, “Your reward in heaven is great [absolutely inexhaustible].”
The Beatitudes describe those living for eternity. They present a reversal. You’re poor, hungry, weeping, and persecuted now, but you’re going to be rich, full, and laughing in the kingdom of God. A great reward awaits you.
The Beatitudes are for those living for the next life instead of this life:
- Romans 8:18 For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.
- 2 Corinthians 4:17 For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory.
Living for eternity means denying the present.
Ask yourself these questions:
- When I’m persecuted for my commitment to Christ, am I encouraged by the reward that awaits me?
- Am I putting off this life to live for the next?
What ways do you see Christians living today that will put them at odds with others? Share your answer below.
These are great questions to be asking ourselves as we go about our lives.
You can listen to the sermon this is drawn from here.