The seventh characteristic of a Christian is found right here in verse 12:
12 Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
According to Jesus, there is a “GREAT” reward for us in heaven. So He commands us to “rejoice and be glad”, because one day the weight of glory will far outweigh all the light and momentary troubles this world throws at us.
These are the characteristics of Christians:
- They are meek when others are prideful.
- They hunger after righteousness when the world thirsts after sin.
- They are merciful to others even when they are sinned against.
- They are pure in heart and donʼt just look good on the outside.
- Christians are active peacemakers in a world at war against God and one another.
- We may be rejected, but we will also be rewarded.
If we will surrender our lives, and be willing to deny ourselves, take up our cross and follow Jesus, from a human perspective our lives may seem to be a waste. Our family or acquaintances may call us crazy. The world may reject us and write us off as loony. But in Godʼs economy no life given to Him is wasted.
God is fully accountable to make use of any and every life that has been laid down to serve and follow Him.
You may not have heard of John Leonard Dober or David Nitschman, who lived in the 1700s. There was an island in the Caribbean where an atheist British owner had 2000 to 3000 slaves. The owner had brazenly declared, “No preacher, no clergyman, will ever stay on this island. If heʼs shipwrecked weʼll keep him in a separate house until he has to leave, but heʼs never going to talk to any of us about God. Iʼm through with all that nonsense.”
Can you imagine? Three thousand slaves from the jungles of Africa were brought to an island in the Atlantic, there to live and die without ever hearing of the person and work of Christ. These two young Moravians, Dober and Nitschman, heard about this plight.
But what could they possibly do about it? How would they reach the slaves on that island if the Gospel (and therefore preaching) was forbidden?
These two young men did the unthinkable: they actually sold themselves as slaves to the British slave owner, using the money they received from their sale to pay for their voyage to his island. As the ship left its pier, the church gathered to see these two men, in their early twenties, off. This would not be a “see you later”.
The two young men were on a voluntary, one-way trip to lifelong slavery. The families stood there on the departure dock weeping, knowing they would literally never see the two again. As the gap widened between the ship and the shore, one of the young men raised his hand and shouted out the last words that were ever heard from them again:
“MAY THE LAMB THAT WAS SLAIN RECEIVE THE REWARD OF HIS SUFFERING!”
God is responsible for those who give their lives to Him. Itʼs a backwards kingdom–and a backward economy.
God allowed Jesus, who knew no sin, to become sin so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.
Jesus was fully God and yet He came from the highest place: heaven to earth and took the lowliest place–the place of a servant, and was crushed in our place.
Jesus brings mercy to those who donʼt deserve it, paying their penalty through His death on the cross.
Jesus–the spotless lamb of God who was the only human to ever truly be pure in heart–was nailed to the cross for you.
Jesus took the punishment you and I deserved.
The Beatitudes are attributes of Christ-followers because they are attributes of Christ Himself!
So letʼs be willing to offer our lives to Him–to live what the world may call a waste. Because when we give our lives in surrender to Jesus, it isnʼt a waste. He calls it worship.
Pastor Pilgrim Benham is the lead pastor at Shoreline Church, in southwest Florida.
Learn more at thisisshoreline.com.
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