Healthy, Wealthy, and Wise: Living Ethically in the Light of the Bible
Matthew 10:17-23; Acts 13:26-52; Psalm 26; Exodus 3-4
Today’s passage in Matthew comes when Jesus sends the apostles out into the world. He knows that they will be opposed, just as he is. Living life Jesus’ way sometimes is challenging and unpopular. Just as Jesus was unjustly executed, so too were most of the apostles. Christians today in parts of the world continue to be killed simply because they are Christians. For many of us, rejection or embarrassment may be the worst we have to face. Yet recently I was publicly denounced and threatened with being ‘run out of town’ because we hold a student Bible study in our home.
When we face opposition for promoting biblical ethics, or speaking out against unethical practices, Jesus provides three things to remember. One is that in the end, everything will be revealed. Lies will be told and partial truths used to promote deception. People will hide their true motives to get away with unethical practices. Jesus did not use such approaches, and neither should we. In the end, and it may not be until the very end, all will be revealed.
Defending the truth and promoting the good can be dangerous. Powerful individuals and organisations can discredit or destroy those who promote honesty and justice. Jesus reminds us that even if they kill us, they cannot destroy our soul. There is a fate worse than death: the corruption and destruction of our souls. Moses and the Israelites failed to remember this (Exodus 5-6). When the Egyptians turned against them for seeking to follow God, the Israelites blamed Moses and he blamed God. Pharaoh unjustly made their lives miserable, yet they followed their fears of him rather than following God. Sometimes we fear losing our comforts more than losing our way.
Jesus’ third point shows how crazy this is. God cares for the smallest of creatures, the sparrow. How much more does he care for each one of us? He knows how many hairs we have; he knows what we are going through. He does not promise to prevent bad things from happening. He even allows his followers to be killed. But he promises that he is there with us, and that we will spend eternity with him. Rather than giving in to those who oppose us, we should pray like David does in Psalm 27. When opposition mounts and threats are made against us, or we are just afraid of what others think about us, we should allow the Lord to remain ‘the stronghold of my life.’ The times may be difficult as we wait for the Lord and follow his ways. But we can tolerate the loss of much when our focus is on dwelling in the house of the Lord and gazing on his beauty.