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January 10: Matthew 10
Genesis 11; Matthew 10; Ezra 10; Acts 10
Yesterday we saw Jesus tell us how to respond to the consequences of sin around us: to pray with compassion for the Lord of the harvest to send out more laborers. In Matthew 10, we learn of what his laborers should expect.
Some will receive the message, but others will reject it (14). And then Jesus calls us to deliver socially impolite words, in response to that rejection (15).
But there is more that God’s laborers will encounter. They go out among wolves (16), men who will find ways to condemn his laborers in the courts, even doing them physical harm (17). They will shame Christ’s laborers in public, using systems of government to make them out to be pariahs in their society (18). Even the families of God’s laborers will be divided, to the degree that one’s own family will engage in cancelling them (21, 35). In short, God’s laborers can expect to be hated by all - at every level of society (22).
It is worth noting how Jesus does not downplay any of this. Yet the modern American church has downplayed these promised trials almost as a matter of course, as a normal part of ministry. There are two major reasons for this. First, we are only now coming out of a season of history where Christianity was regarded positively in our culture. We have simply not known many of these trials.
But secondly, the American church has been more influenced than we realize by early evangelical “pioneers” like Charles Finney, who introduced all kinds of manipulation into the ministry plan of the church.
But Jesus has no hesitation to tell us how hard it will be and what losses we might incur in his service. This is because of what he promises his laborers who work faithfully in his fields.
He promises to always provide the words we need to fulfill our job (19). And if we endure, he promises us nothing less than salvation itself (22).
Still more we can know that when we are persecuted, we have become like our Master (25). It’s evidence that we are indeed members of his household.
Whatever slanders that are slung against us, the truth will come out in the end (26-27). This is because, every step of the way, even the hairs on our head are numbered by God (30). He watches over us and and values us and protects us. In His hands, we are bulletproof, until we’re not.
And the greatest of Christ’s promises is this: whoever is faithful to acknowledge God before men, God Himself will acknowledge that laborer (32). On the other side of laying down our lives, we find our lives (38). The reward is great (41). We gain courage to be faithful by believing these promises.