Do Not Fear: A Greater Reward Awaits
“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
Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Wait, what? This sounds completely counterintuitive. Somehow, Scripture is telling us that when we are mocked and slandered, we are blessed. When was the last time any of us felt blessed when someone was spreading gossip or lies about us?
To understand this confusing statement, we need to pay close attention to the qualifier, “because of me.” These are the words of Christ, and this verse specifically is a part of Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount. The “me” mentioned in this verse is Christ. So, when we are insulted or spoken falsely of, BECAUSE OF JESUS, we are blessed. So how does this verse apply to those of us who are blessed to live in a country where we are given freedom of religious expression? We certainly don’t experience persecution in the same way that many of our brothers and sisters across the globe experience persecution.
As believers, we are called to live set apart from the world around us, even if it calls us away from being comfortable. The world may not understand why we choose to maintain our integrity in the school or workplace by refraining from cheating, lying, or stealing. In that act, we are living out what it means to be transformed by the gospel and given union with Christ. We might get scoffed at by friends when we offer friendship to a social outcast, care to the homeless, or love to the unlovable. This love and obedience to the call of Christ makes glaringly obvious the separation that we, as believers, have from the world. It is guaranteed that there will be those, sometimes even friends or family, who do not understand it, and will choose to respond with mocking words and insults.
The second verse here tells us that the prophets throughout Scripture received this same treatment. Despite their obedience to God in the way they lived and their continuous proclamation of God’s Word, they were mocked, slandered, and lied about by their peers. We are called, as those prophets were, to rejoice and be glad. We must not fear the words of others, especially when those words are insulting the work of Christ in our lives.
Conformity to the world offers a temporary and fleeting reward. Our future and eternal reward is far greater than the popularity or social acceptance that may come with fitting into the mold of the world. We have been unified with Christ. He is, at this moment, preparing a place for us with the Father in heaven. A greater reward awaits.
Action Step: Read 2 Corinthians 4:16-18. How can you more clearly see the ideas of this verse applied in your life? Take some time to pray through this passage, asking God for the strength to press through the momentary troubles and for the hope to remain fixed on the eternal glory that awaits.