Sounds funny doesn't it? Thanking someone for the cruel, insulting, hateful, lying, false, deceptive, and downright evil things someone may have said to, or about you?
Well, I've exaggerated it a bit. I don't think Jesus intended us to be confrontational in our joy.
Matthew 5:11-12 - "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."
Blessed. It actually means "happy". Happy are you when people cut your throat, or stab you in the back, because their lives are going poorly and they strike out against you because their unhappiness runs rampant. Sounds almost cyclical, doesn't it? They are unhappy, and because they are unhappy, they try to make you unhappy, but their unhappiness toward you has only served to make you happy! I love it! Only God can come up with that!
There is good reason why Jesus made special emphasis about this. First of all, it happened to Him personally. He knows what it is like to have the people you love the most turn against you in a hateful and persecutory way. Second, He loves to turn dark clouds into rays of light.
He really does cover all the bases in this one verse. It's part of his larger message called the Sermon on the Mount. He was trying to show the supernatural element of God's Kingdom on earth as being completely opposite to religion.
Jesus says rejoice when you have been wronged. Religion says to strike back and try to harm the person who has afflicted you.
Notice He is not telling us to gloat or throw it back in someone's face. He is merely saying "Be happy anyway. In spite of it all, you are blessed beyond their sick and sad behavior! You have the ultimate prize that religion and the world will not have. You have Heaven as your promise!" Incidentally, do we read that conversely as well? Deceivers, beware.
Jesus is very subtly insinuating that it is because of Him that people do these things. If it's because of Him then it indicates it is coming from some religious environment, or from some religious individuals. If it's because of Jesus then they know ABOUT Jesus. They obviously don't actually KNOW Jesus or it wouldn't happen. Catch my drift? That's the difference between religion and relationship.
The prophets experienced it. The apostles experienced it. Every true disciple will experience it as well. Even, and perhaps mostly, at the hands of the fake disciples (religious).
I will say this. It usually happens out of the blue. Rejoice in that as well. It shows you have a trusting and loving heart. It shows that your love for them blinded you to their deceit and phoniness. It will hurt. It may even devastate you. Don't let it turn you bitter.
This is why Jesus said be happy! Rejoice! Don't be bitter! It proves your worthiness in Him! And if there is nothing else in this world that can make you happy, be joyful that you have been found worthy in Jesus Christ!
Keepin' it Real,
Pastor Kevin <><