2011 was a “Matthew Chapter 10” kind of year for me. Thankfully, I did not suffer persecution in the physical way that brothers and sisters around the world have to. I pray that by God’ s mercy I never do. Yet in many ways last year the words of this chapter became real and clear to me in ways they never had before.
From our household’s increasing involvement in street evangelism, to severed relationships with lost family members over things as simple as our continued attendance at church, the words Jesus spoke so many years ago ring absolutely true.
“And ye shall be hated of all men for my name’s sake” (Matthew 10:22a)
“And a man’s foes shall be they of his own household.” (Matthew 10:36)
Somehow I had hoped that some of us were exempt.
One great encouragement and help to me this fall was reading Keeping the Heart by John Flavel. An excerpt I transferred into the front of my Bible reads:
[Regarding sinful fear of man, remind myself] “If I let into my heart the slavish fear of man, I must let out the reverential awe and fear of God; and dare I cast off the fear of the Almighty for the frowns of a man? Shall I lift up proud dust above the Great God? Shall I run upon certain sin, to shun a probable danger?”
No. I cannot.
We must always remind ourselves of this. God must come first. Our time, resources, and gifts must first be His. His Word must be the final word. Our will must align with His. We must do what He bids us do – not compromise for fear of what a person might say or do. We must not, as Flavel says, lift proud dust above Him – whether that dust is a stranger, a relative, our best friend, or even our self.
“Fear ye not therefore, ye are of more value than many sparrows. Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven…And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me. He that findeth his life shall lose it: and he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it. (Matthew 10:31-32, 38-39)