February 15, 2023
by Pastor Chuck SwindollScriptures: Matthew 5:1–12
Ours is a tough, rugged, wicked world. Aggression, rebellion, violence, cutthroat competition, and retaliation abound. . . . What is true in the secret council chambers of nations is also true behind closed doors of homes.
Ours is a tough, rugged, wicked world. Aggression, rebellion, violence, cutthroat competition, and retaliation abound. Not just internationally but personally. What is true in the secret council chambers of nations is also true behind closed doors of homes. We are stubborn, warring people.
What possible influence could the servant-hearted people Jesus described in Matthew 5:1–12 have on a hard, hostile society like ours? What impact—how much clout—do the "poor in spirit," the "gentle," the "merciful," the "pure in heart," or the "peacemakers" actually have? Such feeble-sounding virtues seem about as influential as pillow fighting in a nuclear war. Especially with the odds stacked against us. Servants of Jesus Christ will always be in the minority . . . a small remnant surrounded by a strong-minded majority with their fists clenched. Can our presence do much good? Isn't it pretty much a wasted effort?
Jesus—the One who first painted the servant's portrait—did not share this skepticism. But neither did He deny the battle. Don't forget the final touches He put on that inspired canvas. Remember these words? They make it clear that society is a combat zone not a vacation spot.
"Blessed are those who have been persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great; for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you." (Matthew 5:10–12)
No, He never promised us a rose garden. He came up front with us and admitted that the arena of this world is not a friend of grace to help us on to God. Nevertheless, strange as it may seem, He went on to tell that handful of Jewish peasants (and all godly servants in every generation) that their influence would be nothing short of remarkable. They would be "the salt of the earth" and they would be "the light of the world." And so shall we! So far-reaching would be the influence of servants in society their presence would be as significant as salt on food and as light on darkness. Neither is loud or externally impressive, but both are essential.
Without our influence, this old world would soon begin to realize our absence. Even though it may not admit it, society needs both salt and light.