(Part 35)


June 8, 2015

Today’s readings:

2 Corinthians 1:1-7

Psalm 34:2-9

Matthew 5:1-12

Can you imagine today’s preachers of the gospel of prosperity saying that you are blessed when you are poor (in spirit), mourn, hunger and thirst (for righteousness), are persecuted, are insulted (Mt 5:3-12)? They know what people want and not want to hear. People just want the good things, the blessings. They fail to see that in the ways of God, it is a blessing to suffer for the cause of Christ.

First, Jesus already warned us that if the world hated him, it will also hate us. The world persecuted and killed him. We can expect no less. Persecution is a sign of our following closely our Lord. “Blessed are you when they insult you and persecute you and utter every kind of evil against you falsely because of me.” (Mt 5:11).

Second, we are in good company, with those who witnessed to Jesus and suffered the consequences. “Thus they persecuted the prophets who were before you.” (Mt 5:12b). We too witness with our very lives and march with the saints.

Third, we become assured of our eternal reward. The gospel of prosperity will not bring us to heaven. On the contrary. We seek blessings now only to miss out on the ultimate blessing. Better to “miss out” on the blessings now (but remember we are blessed) but have it all at the end of time. “Rejoice and be glad, for your reward will be great in heaven.” (Mt 5:12a).

But will not suffering and affliction discourage us in living our lives for Jesus? On the contrary. Affliction in fact opens us up to the grace of God, “the Father of compassion and God of all encouragement, who encourages us in our every affliction” (2 Cor 1:3b-4a).

We all need encouragement. But how would you like to be encouraged not just by brethren but by God Himself? Then suffer more! Suffering for Christ aligns us with Jesus and his mission. So to keep us going, and even going further and deeper, God encourages us. “For as Christ’s sufferings overflow to us, so through Christ does our encouragement also overflow.” (2 Cor 1:5). Want to hear the Father cheering His sons and daughters on? Persevere, endure and embrace suffering, for “as you share in the sufferings, you also share in the encouragement.” (2 Cor 1:7b).

The more we suffer and the greater our desperation, the more we look to Jesus, do we not? We know he cares, we know he will help us out. “I sought the Lord, and he answered me, delivered me from all my fears.” (Ps 34:5).

And so, as we live and work in a valley of tears, as we are assaulted by the forces of the enemy, we look at Jesus. “Look to him and be radiant, and your faces may not blush for shame.” (Ps 34:6). We look at Jesus and give him the worship that is his due, and then confident that he looks to us and looks after us, we look to and help the poor. “My soul will glory in the Lord; let the poor hear and be glad.” (Ps 34:3).

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