Our scripture this week is Matthew 5:1-12.
Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 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.”
Jesus didn’t let us think it would be easy. From the very start of His ministry here on earth He told us there would be resentment and opposition to His message. He said we would be blessed for our efforts and to “rejoice and be glad, for great is your reward in heaven” (verse 12).
People don’t like to hear that they are doing the wrong things. It doesn’t normally lead to cheerful conversation or friendly exchange. Jesus came to show us and teach us in a different way – telling us positive examples of how we should be and allowing us to see the way we were going was wrong for ourselves.
There are examples of Jesus calling people out for their wrongdoing – see Matthew 21:12-17 for the passage about Him clearing the Temple! He didn’t condone sin, but He taught that when we recognize it and repent, we can be forgiven. He called us to be part of His work, to help lead our brothers and sisters to a repentant relationship with Him, and that when the almost certain backlash occurred, we would be blessed for our work in His name.
Gracious God, it is hard to follow what Jesus taught, and harder still to do what He did. Help us to be strong in the truth of Your word, to bring the message of repentance and forgiveness to everyone, even when we face trials to do so. Amen.