Blessed are you when men hate you, and ostracize you, and insult you, and scorn your name as evil, for the sake of the Son of Man. Be glad in that day and leap for joy, for behold, your reward is great in heaven. For in the same way their fathers used to treat the prophets. (Luke 6:22, 23 NASB)
"Sticks and stones may break my bones,
But words can never harm me."
That childhood refrain was my first thought when I read these verses, but it is not exactly what Jesus was saying. Being hated, ostracized, insulted, and scorned do not seem much like blessings. If the hatred, ostracizing, insults, and scorning are with cause, they are not. When they come because of your love for Jesus, though, they are blessings, indeed.
In fact, Jesus said that, when you are mistreated because of Him, it's cause for celebration. "Leap for joy!" The misdeeds are not what we are to celebrate, but the reward our suffering will bring. That reward, Jesus promised, would be delivered in heaven and it would be great. The Greek word here is "polys", meaning large or many. Whatever we will receive in exchange for our mistreatment because of our love for Jesus will be more than worth it.
Jesus was reminding us that this earth is not our home. We have a final destination, where we will live with Him forever. Whatever we suffer here, whatever we endure, is only temporary. One day, our troubles will end. One day all our trials will be over, but our lives will go on in eternity.
That promise of reward in heaven should be cause for hope as well as rejoicing. When we focus all our attention on the difficulties of this world, it's hard to remember that this is not our end. When we keep our eyes on heaven, it's much easier to move through hard times without despair.
Suffering is not a new experience for God's people, and we should not be surprised by it, nor should we panic or be dismayed in the face of it. "...Words can never harm me" is not exactly true. Words can damage reputations and hurt our feelings. In the light of eternity, however, spiteful, hate filled words can be the source of great blessing. When we exchange the hurtful words of this world for the great rewards in the next, we are blessed indeed.
Have you been scorned for your faith? Have your loved ones ridiculed you because of your love for Jesus? Do not despair. He knows your pain and will reward in due time.
Pray for endurance in hard times and for our loved ones to see truth rather than the lies of the world. Pray that we will keep our eyes on eternity rather than on the trials of the here and now.
Here's the link for last night's post: http://leannahollis.blogspot.com/2014/03/bahamian-blogging-8-legend-pizza.html