Responding Rightly to Opposition

Responding Rightly to Opposition

When Steve Lindscott was a student at Emmaus Bible College in 1980, he had a strange dream. Later, when he learned that a nursing student in Oak Park had been murdered the night he had the dream, some friends encouraged him to go to the police and talk with them about the dream. The Oak Park police arrested him, interpreting his dream as a confession. Steve Lindscott was tried and was found guilty of murder and was sentenced to forty years in prison. Three and one-half years into his sentence, more evidence was uncovered that proved Lindscott was innocent and he was set free.

As we think of that story, can you imagine the frustration that Lindscott must have endured through the trial and through the three and one-half year period of time? Considered guilty of a crime he had not committed, separated from his wife and three children for three and one-half years, surviving the violence inside a prison, thinking that he would not be free for forty years, wondering why God would allow this all to happen, and yet, Scott Lindscott’s perspective in adversity is refreshing and challenging. Listen to what he writes, “I have come to realize that we cannot judge God’s purposes, nor where He places us, nor why He chooses one path for our lives as opposed to another. The Bible itself is replete with accounts of Divine action or inaction that does not seem fair and that does not make sense except when viewed in light of God’s perfect plan. Thousands of Egyptian children were massacred while a baby named Moses was spared. Jacob was a liar and a thief and yet it was he, and not his faithful brother, Esau, who received the blessing of their father, Isaac, and of God. On one level it makes no sense that God would allow His Son to die for the sins of mankind, but God has a plan, a Perfect Plan.”

Our life’s circumstances, adversities, and difficulties probably are not as extreme as Scott Lindscott’s, but almost everyone suffers under some form of unfair treatment in this life, some form of false accusation of unjust criticism of others around us, or difficult opposition.

How should a Christian respond to mistreatment, to insults, to opposition, and to criticism? In Acts 25 we find a great example through the Apostle Paul. We search for an answer to this question through the story that is unveiled before us.

The Apostle Paul has whole-heartedly committed himself to honoring God completely and thoroughly, and yet such a commitment to God made him the target of specific opposition, of harsh criticism, of false accusation, and even of threat. Jesus had promised His Disciples, in Matthew 10:22,

22 “All men will hate you because of me…”

Paul was experiencing this distain. Think about Paul’s life since believing in Jesus as his Savior and Lord. We could consider that a right decision toward God would make life a little bit rosier and calmer, but such was not the case for Paul. Before Paul had trusted Jesus Christ as his Savior and as his Lord he had the esteem of his entire community and his nation. He was well respected and he had a great, growing career. He had life fairly easy in those regards, but after Paul came to faith in Jesus Christ, what happened? We are going to look at several Scriptures, just by way of review, to think through what Paul did experience as a result of his commitment to Jesus Christ. In Acts 9, Paul has given the explanation of his conversion, and it says, in Verses 20 and 23-25,

20 At once he began to preach in the synagogues that Jesus is the Son of God.

23 After many days had gone by, the Jews conspired to kill him, 24 but Saul learned of their plan. Day and night they kept close watch on the city gates in order to kill him. 25 But his followers took him by night and lowered him in a basket through an opening in the wall.

Paul went from being a man of respected freedom to being a man of hated fugitive. Immediately, a few days after his conversion, this took place. Then we read in Verses 29 and 29, after Paul left Damascus, this kind of opposition followed him.

28 So Saul stayed with them and moved about freely in Jerusalem, speaking boldly in the name of the Lord. 29 He talked and debated with the Grecian Jews, but they tried to kill him.

We see another plot underfoot to take Paul’s life.

We move to Acts 13:50 and Paul is on his 1st Missionary Journey with Barnabas. He arrives in the city of Antioch and there he is proclaiming the Good News of the Gospel, and we read this response,

50 But the Jews incited the God-fearing women of high standing and the leading men of the city. They stirred up persecution against Paul and Barnabas, and expelled them from their region.

We move to Acts 14:5 and now Paul is in a city by the name of Iconium and it says,

5 There was a plot afoot among the Gentiles and Jews, together with their leaders, to mistreat them and stone them.

In Verse 19, Paul arrives in Lystra, and it says,

19 Then some Jews came from Antioch and Iconium and won the crowd over. They stoned Paul and dragged him outside the city, thinking he was dead.

Then we come to Chapter 16, Verses 22-24. Paul and Silas are on the 2nd Missionary Journey and they arrive at the city of Philippi and they have some success, but they also meet with opposition.

22 The crowd joined in the attack against Paul and Silas, and the magistrates ordered them to be stripped and beaten. 23 After they had been severely flogged, they were thrown into prison, and the jailer was commanded to guard them carefully. 24 Upon receiving such orders, he put them in the inner cell and fastened their feet in the stocks.

In Chapter 17, Verse 5, in Thessalonica, the reception was not much better;

5 But the Jews were jealous; so they rounded up some bad characters from the marketplace, formed a mob and started a riot in the city.

In Chapter 17, Verse 32, Paul is in Athens and this is the intellectual center of the known world at the time. Here they didn’t physically assault him, but they did verbally so;

32 When they heard about the resurrection of the dead, some of them sneered…

They mocked Paul and belittled him. In Chapter 21, we come to a section where we are sort of in this story in this study where Paul finds himself in prison. Why is he in prison? That story is told in Verses 30-32. Paul is in Jerusalem and he had been warned not to go there, but sure enough, when he went to Jerusalem

30 The whole city was aroused, and the people came running from all directions. Seizing Paul, they dragged him from the temple, and immediately the gates were shut. 31 While they were trying to kill him, news reached the commander of the Roman troops that the whole city of Jerusalem was in an uproar. 32 He at once took some officers and soldiers and ran down to the crowd. When the rioters saw the commander and his soldiers, they stopped beating Paul.

Now that Paul is in Roman custody, we find that he has a trial before Claudius Lysias and Claudius Lysias finds him “not guilty”, but none-the-less he sends Paul up to Caesarea for a formal trial. He also sent a letter saying that he didn’t find anything by which to charge Paul, but he turns him over to Felix, and what does Felix do? He listens to the Apostle Paul, he listens to the accusers, and he, too, says, “I don’t find anything wrong with this man. I don’t find any of the charges backed up by the facts.” Yet, for the next two years, Felix is going to delay a verdict and for two years Paul is in prison.

Often times we run by the narrative of this without soaking in the human element behind what Paul is experiencing. Paul is a man just like you and I. Try to smell the stench of the prison Paul is sleeping in for two years. Try to think of the constraints that Paul is under, unable to leave that prison cell. Think of the abrasions upon his hands and wrists from the chains that he wore for two years under guard, all the while the one who held a trial, knowingly, is telling others that they find no reason for Paul to be held, and yet they refused to make the verdict. Two years go by and now Paul stands before another Roman governor by the name of Festus.

Paul’s response to opposition, to harsh treatment, to criticism, and to false accusation is instructive to us all. Paul’s response is found both in his behavior in the story that covers these four or five chapters, but also his response is found in the letters that he has written to various churches; both immediately before he arrived in Jerusalem and also after he arrives in Jerusalem and is taken to Rome, yet still incarcerated.

The natural reaction that we have when we are opposed and unfairly treated and criticized is what? It is to fight back and it is to retaliate. We hear the flesh of our heart screaming inside of us, “Stand up for yourself! Fight fire with fire! Protect your honor!” This is not what the Gospel commends to our lives. It is not what Paul commends or Jesus commends, neither through their lives nor through their teaching.

Of Jesus, it is said, by Peter, in 1 Peter 2:23,

23 When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly.

There are five Godly responses to opposition and to criticism. These responses help us to adjust our attitude when we are criticized, unfairly treated, and falsely accused. Most of us will never know what it means to be falsely accused to the point of being put in prison, but everyday, every week, or every month there is something that happens when we sense the injustice of others upon our life. It can happen within our own family, in the work place, or within our own church, but how are we to respond?

The first response is to reflect humbly. It is important for us to listen carefully to criticism that is laid against us to discern whether there is any validity to it. It is vital that not just dismiss it immediately. James would teach us, in James 1:19,

19 …be quick to hear, slow to speak, and slow to anger…

Our natural tendency is to block an opponent’s blow and to counterpunch; to not even consider what our opponent might be saying. We find evidence for this attitude in this story. In this story we find that the Apostle Paul has listened carefully to his accusers and he has evaluated the validity of his critics. In Chapter 25:8, Paul is making his third defense, this time before Festus, and he outlines the charges against him. He says,

“I have done nothing wrong against the law of the Jews or against the temple or against Caesar.”

As he says so, it is important for us to understand that Paul has listened carefully and has identified each and every accusation that has been made against him. As we follow the story, these are exactly the accusations and they are presented very fairly, according to what is being said against Paul. He is not trying to exaggerate their accusations so as to make them look silly. He is not dismissing some and neglecting to address certain aspects of the accusations. He takes the accusation in its totality and he addresses them one-by-one-by-one. He has listened carefully to his critics.

Paul could recite very clearly these accusations precisely because he has listened to them. So often we do not listen to our opponents at all. So often, instead, we put words into their mouths to make them look ridiculous in order to defend ourselves, but not Paul. He listened and he evaluated. What was his evaluation? In Chapter 23:1, he gave his evaluation before his accusers when he said,

1 Paul looked straight at the Sanhedrin and said, “My brothers, I have fulfilled my duty to God in all good conscience to this day.”

Paul is going to say a similar thing in Acts 24:16. Paul asked himself the question, often, “Have I disobeyed God? Have I dishonored God in any way?” He says,

16 “So I strive always to keep my conscience clear before God and man.”

We find that the Apostle Paul is concerned about God thinks in regards to his life and he uses these accusers as a time to stop and allow God to reflect upon his life as to whether his conscience can be truly clean and he has the freedom to be able to proclaim his innocence.

It is important for us not to skip past this first step or response. Why is that important? It is important because it is not always the case when we are completely innocent, is it? Sometimes an accusation that is made against us has, at least, some validity to it and it is not for us to dismiss opposition without consideration for God Himself may have sent them to us. Perhaps they don’t have everything right, but maybe they have “something” right and God would have us listen to them so that we might be able to address, in our lives, that something that He would have us to change so that we might become more and more conformed to Jesus Christ.

It is possible that our critics might strike a truthful blow. Criticism is always difficult to accept, but if we receive it with humility and with a desire to improve our character it can help us. The Bible teaches us that only fools do not profit when we are rebuked for our errors.

Thankfully, David listened to Nathan, didn’t he instead of rejecting him out of hand. He listened to Nathan and he repented of his sin. Pride would have us rather ruin by compliments than help by criticism. It is hard enough for us to receive constructive praise let alone constructive criticism. It is vital for us to reflect humbly in such circumstances.

Augustine would pray, “Lord, deliver me from the lust of vindicating myself.” Augustine understood something about ourselves; that we don’t want to face the error of our ways, and often time when we are forced to by accusation or by criticism we are so ready to simply vindicate, vindicate, vindicate.

Often, I have found, while a critic does not have it exactly right in his or her accusation, God uses the criticism to expose, through my self-reflection, another area of my life that I need to address. It is interesting I recently went to my dermatologist. I went, in the first place, several weeks ago, because I had a growth on my neck that we concerning me and, as you know, I am very conscience of these kinds of things. I have had some problems in the past, so I went to ask him to look at that to see if it needed to be removed. He agreed it did and while I was there I asked him to look at my back to see if anything else was wrong. There were a couple of spots that he wanted to remove and examine.

I went back to get the results. He said that the one on the neck was nothing at all, but the one taken off of my back could have potentially been very dangerous and very problematic and it was a good thing it was removed. Everything is fine now. It is interesting, isn’t it because I went to the doctor, not for anything on my back, but for something on my neck and there was nothing wrong with that.

So often it is when a critic comes to us, maybe the thing that they are pointing at is nothing wrong at all. Instead of dismissing it, if we would humble reflect and allow God to work in our life perhaps that would cause us to reflect upon something else that God would reveal to us that really is dangerous to our soul and is corrupting so that He might graciously remove it. Let us understand God’s design behind these things.

The second response is resist retaliation. Paul knew that Jesus taught against a retaliatory spirit. Jesus said, in the Sermon on the Mount, in Matthew 5:44,

44 “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 that you may be sons of (the Kingdom).”

He says that these are the characteristics of the family of God: that we learn to pray for those who spite us. In fact, Jesus would go on to say in Luke 6, these words,

27 “But I tell you who hear me: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, 28 bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. 29 If someone strikes you on one cheek, turn to him the other also. If someone takes your cloak, do not stop him from taking your tunic. 30 Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back. 31 Do to others as you would have them do to you.

32 “If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even ‘sinners’ love those who love them. 33 And if you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even ‘sinners’ do that. 34 And if you lend to those from whom you expect repayment, what credit is that to you? Even ‘sinners’ lend to ‘sinners,’ expecting to be repaid in full. 35 But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked.”

How thankful we are that God is kind to the ungrateful and the wicked.

Christianity is not tested most by a response to those who love us, but our Christian faith is tested most by a response to those who do not love us. This is where our flesh finds it very difficult to bless those who curse us. Paul found this a struggle, didn’t he? Remember, in Chapter 23:2-5, this high priest had ordered that Paul be struck on the mouth and Paul gets punched in the mouth. Then Paul turns back to him and says,

3 “God will strike you, you whitewashed wall! You sit there to judge me according to the law, yet you yourself violate the law by commanding that I be struck!”

What Paul said there was absolutely true, but he was called on this and someone said, in Verses 4 and 5,

4 “You dare to insult God’s high priest?”

5 Paul replied, “Brothers, I did not realize that he was the high priest; for it is written: ‘Do not speak evil about the ruler of your people.’”

There, I believe, Paul recognized there was something in his spirit that was wrong as he was talking to this leader. It wasn’t necessarily wrong to speak truth to leaders who are in error, but he was having a retaliatory spirit at this time and he recognized it so he backed off and quoted Scripture to convict himself in regards to his action.

Paul will write in his letter to Rome, just before this incident takes place and in that letter to Rome Paul is going to say, in Romans 12,

14 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse…

17 Do not repay anyone evil for evil… 19 Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God’s wrath…”If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink”… 21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

We cannot put out the fire of evil with the combustible fuel of our flesh through a retaliatory spirit. If we try we, ourselves, will be consumed by the flames. Instead, when evil comes against us how do we put out the flames so as not to have our soul and our person burn? We put out the flame with the water of God’s Spirit which evidences the fruit in our lives of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, and self-control; even in these circumstances, and especially on these circumstances. Instead of responding to our opponents with retaliation we are a people who commend our opponents to God in prayer asking God to genuinely bless them.

John Newton was the man who wrote the hymn Amazing Grace. A friend of John Newton was falsely accused and opposed and unfairly treated by another and this friend got really angry about this. This friend was about to shoot off a nasty letter to this guy who had falsely accused him. John Newton writes this counsel to his friend, “As to your opponent, I wish, that before you set pen to paper against him, and during the whole time you are preparing your answer, you may commend him by earnest prayer to the Lord’s teaching and to blessing. This practice will have a direct tendency to conciliate your heart to love and to pity him and such a disposition will have a good influence upon every page you write.

“If he is a believer, in a little while you will meet in Heaven and he will then be dearer to you than the most dearest friend that you have upon the earth right now. Anticipate that period in your thoughts. When a believer strikes against us, is that our first thought, that one day in Heaven that person will be more dear to us as a friend than the dearest person on earth is right now.

“If he is an unconverted person he is a more proper object of your compassion than your anger. Alas, he does not know what he does.”

We listen to this and all the teachings of Jesus and Paul and some of us get a little frustrated by this and one of the questions that is often asked is, “Can a Christian defend himself at all against any assault?” These biblical commands prohibit us from defending our honor with force, whether it is verbal or physical force. Another word for honor is our “pride”.

If someone comes up to you and punches you in the face you do have biblical right to physically restrain them. When Jesus says, “If someone slaps you on the cheek turn them the other also,” that slap on the cheek was an instigation for a fight. It was not a physical assault whereby you are going to get bloodied and beaten, but it was an insult and a way to say, “Do you want to fight?” Jesus says, if someone pops you on the cheek, you turn to them the other, also, and say, “No, I don’t want to fight.” We believe that is going to make us look weak and like a sissy. Yes, it might, but the biblical injunction for us as a Christian is not to use physical force or verbal force to defend our own honor. Again, this doesn’t mean that there is not a place for appropriate restraining of evil through physical means, but it is to say that we have to be careful with our spirit because, most often, very seldom are very many of us in the situation where we have to physically defend ourselves, but often we are in the situation where we are going to have to defend our honor, or be tempted to do just that.

The third response that we have is to remain true. It is interesting, through all of this, that the Apostle Paul did not ever waiver in his commitment to Jesus Christ; not through the beatings prior and the difficulties in imprisonment and not through this entire two-year time. In Acts 24:14, Paul asserts again,

14 …I admit that I worship the God of our fathers as a follower of the Way…I believe…

He is going to be in prison two more years and two years later what is his line? In Acts 25:19, his critic, Festus, is repeating his line and as Festus interviewed Paul after he had been in prison for two years, he recites Agrippa:

19 Instead, they had some points of dispute with him about their own religion and about a dead man named Jesus who Paul claimed was alive.

Paul is continuing to claim that “this Jesus” is alive even though he suffered in prison for two years as the result of it. In Acts 26:6, Paul stands before Agrippa and Paul says,

6 “And now it is because of my hope in what God has promised our fathers that I am on trial today.”

The point of this is for us to observe that Paul is enduring hardship as a good soldier. He is remaining in his faith. He is holding to the truth in regards to the Gospel. He is not compromising in order to wiggle his way out of a difficult situation.

In the midst of such opposition, wouldn’t you think that it would be tempting for Paul to begin asking questions, such as, “God, where are you? I am here in prison and I have been faithful to you. Where are you? God, do you care about me? Is it really worth it to follow Jesus Christ?” Paul, in all of these questions, says, “Yes, it is worth it to follow Jesus Christ. I know that my Redeemer lives. I know that God is with me.” He remains true; he perseveres in the faith. Jesus promised us that we would be mistreated because of Him and we should not be surprised when it happens.

There was a preacher in the 1800’s by the name of Charles Simeon who had a very difficult life in ministry. He served in a single-congregation for almost fifty years; one pastor for one church for almost fifty years. In that fifty years time he didn’t always have a favorable opinion from the people, especially some of the wealthier people. Many of the wealthier people in those days owned the pews and they had locks on the pews, so they would come in and say, “This is my pew,” and they would unlock it and sit in their pew. The wealthier folks didn’t like Charles Simeon. They didn’t like his preaching and they didn’t like his boldness so they decided to boycott and lock their pews and not come to church. It is as if all the pews at Bethany Baptist Church were empty and everyone who is here would have to stand up in the aisles. This happened for five or six years where he preached, and the wealthy people locked their pews so no one could sit in them. Every week he would preach before a church where the pews were empty and people were having to stand up in the aisles in order to listen to him.

Wouldn’t that be a discouraging thing? Of course, it would be. One of his friends, at the end of his life, when Charles Simeon was over seventy years old, asked him how he was able to persevere. This is what he writes to his friend, “My dear brother, we must not mind a little suffering for Christ’s sake.” He went on to say, “When I am getting through a hedge, if my head and shoulders are safely through, I can bear the prickling of my legs. Let us rejoice in the remembrance that our Holy Head has surmounted all His suffering and triumphed over death and let us follow Him patiently. We shall soon be partakers of His victory.”

Are you persevering? Are you remaining true? It is not likely that we are going to be imprisoned if we don’t, although there are many throughout the world who suffer such, but it might affect relationships, it might affect your reputation and the respect that others give you, and it might even affect your career and the money that you might be able to earn as a result of remaining true to Jesus Christ. Are you willing to persevere and are you willing to pay the price of staying faithful and true to the Lord Jesus Christ?

How can we remain faithful and true? We can by God’s Grace. God gives us abundance grace. He gives us grace through His Word and that is why it is so important to receive His Word daily so that we are ready to persevere and to remain true.

He gives us grace through prayer and through our opportunity to talk to Him. He gives us grace through the comfort and encouragement of other believers. Remaining true is difficult and there are many believers who fall short each day.

First, let us commit ourselves to say, “By your grace, Lord, I am going to remain true to you though it might cost me much, even my very life, I will remain true by your grace.” But, let us also be a people who are cognizant of the temptation that others around us are facing to give in and to give up and who no longer persevere. Let us be a people who reach out to strengthen others so that they, too, might receive the benefit of God’s comfort.

The fourth response is to rest confidently. We can also write in there to “rejoice confidently.” Think of the anxious fears that could have overtaken Paul. We read, in Chapter 25:1-7, that he is standing before another judge wondering what is going to happen now, and yet, what is Paul’s response in the midst of all of this? Paul makes his defense, very calmly, in Verse 8,

1 Three days after arriving in the province, Festus went up from Caesarea to Jerusalem, 2 where the chief priests and Jewish leaders appeared before him and presented the charges against Paul. 3 They urgently requested Festus, as a favor to them, to have Paul transferred to Jerusalem, for they were preparing an ambush to kill him along the way. 4 Festus answered, “Paul is being held at Caesarea, and I myself am going there soon. 5 Let some of your leaders come with me and press charges against the man there, if he has done anything wrong.”

6 After spending eight or ten days with them, he went down to Caesarea, and the next day he convened the court and ordered that Paul be brought before him. 7 When Paul appeared, the Jews who had come down from Jerusalem stood around him, bringing many serious charges against him, which they could not prove.

8 Then Paul made his defense: “I have done nothing wrong against the law of the Jews or against the temple or against Caesar.”

He has this calm confidence. We enter into Chapter 26 and we see this continuing, as we read in Verse 2,

2 “King Agrippa, I consider myself fortunate to stand before you today…”

He is not ranting and raving, “For two years it has been unfair…” Instead, he is calm and confident in God’s plan and purpose for his life.

It is important to note that it is not as though Paul didn’t use any reasonable means by which to defend himself; it is not always wrong to bring a defense because he did appeal to Caesar. What we are walking through are responses that will help us in the midst of opposition so that we might benefit the most as God intends from the opposition that He provides us.

During Paul’s Roman imprisonment, that will take place in Acts 27 and 28, Paul is going to write a letter to the Philippians and this is what he is going to say to the Philippians while he is still in prison as a result of this initial incident that took place in Jerusalem, because his imprisonment is going to extend beyond that two-year period and into more years of imprisonment, “Rejoice in the Lord always. And, again I say, Rejoice!”

It is important for us to understand the context in which Paul writes these words. He has a rejoicing confidence that God knows what He is doing and he has a calm assurance that God will work out His settled and established plan. That is the reason why he is going to say to these Philippians, in Philippians 4:6,

6 Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication…let your requests be made known to God… 7 the peace of God (is going to) guard (and protect) your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

That is God’s assurance to us: that God Himself is sovereign over every detail, even down to the minutest portion of the trials and hardships of our lives. God is our Judge, not man. We will never have man’s approval, but we can have God’s approval, which leads us to the last response: relish God’s approval. Another way of saying that is “revel in God’s approval”.

This is what Paul does in Acts 23:1, when he says,

1 Paul looked straight at the Sanhedrin and said, “My brothers, I have fulfilled my duty to God in all good conscience to this day.”

In Acts 24:16, Paul has that same attitude:

16 So I strive always to keep my conscience clear before God…

Why? Because Paul was looking for the approval of God and he was looking to hear God’s voice say (Matthew 25:21), “Well done, good and faithful servant!” He had no care about man’s approval. He laid all of that aside. He said, in his letter to the Romans (Romans 8:18), which he wrote right before this event,

18 I consider that our present sufferings are not (worthy to be compared to) the glory that (is to follow).

The word “consider” is a word that would describe an accountant’s counting up, on the ledger, all of the details of the business transactions; “I consider”: I take some time to stop and think. Here is God’s side of the equation. Here is the side of the equation that is difficult and hard for me. I put them together and I consider that these things are not even worthy to be compared with the things that are to follow, so I come to God and I revel in His approval that I will enjoy throughout eternity.

Puritan pastor, Samuel Rutherford, writes these words, “One day in Heaven will pay you, yes, overpay, your blood, your bonds, your sorrow, and your sufferings. It would tremble an angel’s understanding to lay the account of that surplus of glory which eternity can and will give you. Jesus, in this, is our example so we fix our eyes on Jesus, who for the joy that was set before Him, it was eternity that was in view, endured the cross.”

Beloved brothers and sisters, it is vital that we grab onto this great truth that blessed are you when men persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me. Jesus says, “Rejoice and be glad because great is your reward in Heaven.”

Jesus’ path of discipleship is a path of suffering and we recall that Jesus’ path of suffering He walked down was a path which led to your and my salvation. It was through suffering, through being falsely accused, through being mistreated, and through being unfairly opposed that Jesus Christ purchased for you and for me our freedom, our pardon, and our redemption that we eternally enjoy with God. That is the Good News.

The Good News is that Jesus Christ willingly suffered so that you and I might have the hope of eternal life and He calls us unto Himself (Matthew 11:28): “Come to me all you who are weary and heavy laden and I will give you rest.” This is the great hope of the Gospel, but now as a people who enjoy the benefits of this Gospel and of the willing suffering of Jesus Christ, now Jesus Christ calls us to walk a path. He calls us to walk a path that is different from a course that our own flesh would take, but it is the path that will bring glory to the name of Jesus Christ who died in our place and will bring joy to our hearts as we embrace it in faith.

Let us pray and ask that God would help us to respond rightly to opposition in our lives.