Monday, June 15, 2015

Jesus Promised Blessings (Long-Term) not Without Difficulties and Pain (Short-Term)

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” (Matthew 5:10-12, NIV).

Jesus described “persecuted because of righteousness” blessing by expanded to “persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you,” which adds up to a thorough rejection. This is news we don’t want to hear. Do we really want to follow Jesus into a life of blessing that also promises difficulty and pain? Jesus instructed those considering becoming his disciples to count the cost (Luke 14:28), and he provided a clear idea of what that cost might be. There will always be some who decide the price tag for spiritual maturity and God’s blessing is too high.

Jesus helped by giving us a more long-range view. Costs and rewards may be present or future. One choice may yield great short-term rewards followed by long-term regrets; another may be difficult at first but generate years of great reward. Jesus applied the principle to all of life. He warned that the immediate results of following him may be hard, but the reward of heaven will make the hardships worthwhile.

If we read through the first seven “Blessed” (Matthew 5:3-9) with costs in mind, we discover that each one requires an uncomfortable investment, beginning with coming clean about spiritual poverty. Repentance (mourning) may not be a cost we’re eager to bear. Humbling ourselves will take a toll on pride, and longing for justice will be frustrating in a fallen world. Mercy will cost us our strong desire for revenge. And the desire for purity and peace will be costly to our tendency toward self-centredness. But Jesus has promised that God blesses those who make the difficult investments in his way of living. God will bring lasting satisfaction into your life as a long-term result.

Think about this: Jesus was certainly speaking with the end of life in mind;
Much of the blessing from the “Blessed” will come to us in eternity.
Yet there are clearly lifelong benefits that come to us on our present journey with Jesus.

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