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The Warning of the Woes

The warning of the woes is you can live for this life or the next.
The warning of the woes is you can live for this life or the next.

The four woes contain the same warning. You can live for this life or the next. We’ve already discussed the second and third. Let’s look at the third and fourth…

“Woe to you who laugh now, for you shall mourn and weep” (Luke 6:25b).

The third woe corresponds with the third beatitude:

Blessed are you who weep now,
For you shall laugh”
(Luke 6:21b).

Blessed are those who mourn over sin, and cursed are those who laugh at it!

Think of people who laugh at their sin and the sin of others. There’s no grief whatsoever regarding the sin they see around them or the sin they’re engaging in.

But Jesus says this present state of laughing is going to be replaced with weeping. This is the weeping that takes place while these people suffer for eternity in hell: “There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth” (Luke 13:28a).

The fourth woe: “Woe to you when all men speak well of you, for so did their fathers to the false prophets” (Luke 6:26).

This final woe corresponds with the final Beatitude:

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”
(Luke 6:22-23).

Blessed are those persecuted for Christ, and cursed are those who love the praise of men. If everyone loves you and thinks you’re great, you should be worried. If that’s the case, you’re probably trying to please man instead of God. Being a servant of Christ means speaking truth, and truth is always unpopular with some number of people.

“For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ” (Gal 1:10 ESV).

When Jesus discussed the blessing, He gave an example of people everyone hated: prophets. Fittingly when He discussed the corresponding woe, He gave an example of people everyone loved: false prophets. They tell everyone what they want to hear.

“The prophets prophesy falsely,
And the priests rule by their own power;
And My people love to have it so.

But what will you do in the end?”
(Jer 5:31).

False teachers today are the false prophets of the Old Testament: 2 Peter 2:1 There were false prophets among the people (referring to the Old Testament), even as there will be false teachers among you (referring to the Church Age or the New Testament).

So while we don’t look for false prophets, we do look for false teachers, and one of the clearest signs is a huge amount of popularity. Think Joel Osteen, T.D. Jakes, Rob Bell, Joyce Meyers.

But it’s not just about big name people. We all need to be careful of things we say, whether we’re talking to people or posting something on Facebook. If we’re sharing only to be popular, with no regard for the truth, this woe should convict us.

Even though there are four different woes, they’re making the same point. Instead of seeing four woes making different points, see four woes making the same point four different ways. Jesus says, “Woe to you who are rich, full, laughing, and popular NOW!”

As much as the Beatitudes describe those living for eternity, the woes describe those living for today.

H.H. Farmer said, “To Jesus the terrible thing about having wrong values in life and pursuing wrong things is not that you are doomed to bitter disappointment, but that you are not; not that you do not achieve what you want, but that you do.”

If you want to be rich, full, laughing, and popular now, you can have that. But that’s all you’re going to have. That’s the warning of the woes.

Are there any things you’ve had to give up living for eternity? What changes have you made in your life? Share your answer in the comment section.

You can listen to the sermon this is drawn from here.

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