The Gospel according to Matthew (Matthew 10:16-23)
“Behold, I am sending you like sheep in the midst of wolves; so be shrewd as serpents and simple as doves. But beware of people, for they will hand you over to courts and scourge you in their synagogues, and you will be led before governors and kings for my sake as a witness before them and the pagans. When they hand you over, do not worry about how you are to speak or what you are to say. You will be given at that moment what you are to say. For it will not be you who speak but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you. Brother will hand over brother to death, and the father his child; children will rise up against parents and have them put to death. You will be hated by all because of my name, but whoever endures to the end will be saved. When they persecute you in one town, flee to another. Amen, I say to you, you will not finish the towns of Israel before the Son of Man comes.”
Opening Prayer: Lord Jesus, grant me the courage to be a witness for others so that they may come to know, love, and follow you.
Encountering Christ: We certainly have a challenge placed before us today by Jesus. He tells us what to expect when we go out and try to spread the good news. We can expect to be ridiculed, jeered at, ignored, etc. But the reward at the end of life makes it all worthwhile.
Jesus also gives us a great promise – the promise of the Holy Spirit when we need it the most! Have you ever found yourself in the midst of a conversation about religion, moral issue or church ethics??? I don’t know about you, but I find that when I see that conversation developing, I always ask God to give me some wisdom and some words to testify to the truth.
Don’t think for a minute that I am saying I’m God’s greatest gift to the world! – I’m saying give thanks to God when you realize that something much greater than yourself is recognized. The gift of the Spirit given to you! We all get it whether you realize it our not. We all have wondered at some point “Where did that come from”… that inspiration – those words we needed at that particular moment.
Okay..so you say “point well taken”. GREAT! But – do we actually think about how God uses us every day? How we testify to the truth of Jesus Christ? Do we think about the fact that God monitors our every action and, when necessary, supplies the words OR action we need to witness to our faith – to the building up of the kingdom.
We really are no different than the disciples sent forth by Jesus. They had no idea what was going to happen but they BELIEVED in Jesus and his teaching. Jesus also told them (and us!) the road would be difficult at times and even dangerous. That is true for us today. When we preach thru words or action the gospel values, we are certainly going to experience negativity and even persecution from some regarding what we say and value in our own lives.
Jesus reassures us in this gospel that IF we remain faithful and endure the difficulties or hardships throughout our lives – then at the end we will be saved and come to enjoy eternal happiness with Jesus and the Father. All worth it right???
So let’s make sure today and in the days ahead that we are able to commit ourselves to the values of the gospels AND that we emulate the actions of Jesus – living MERCY, COMPASSION, FORGIVENESS in our daily lives and that we continue to place our trust in Jesus and the Father – to give us the Spirit at the right times and moments. If we TRUST, then we can spend our time tending to the daily challenges placed before us, giving glory to God and bringing a little peace to our fractured and broken world.
Don’t forget that the “wolves” of our lives are not necessarily people either! The wolves can be our own habits and prejudices we harbor in our hearts. We must always look to Jesus for the right path and follow Him even when the going gets tough!
Closing Prayer: Lord Jesus, I want to participate in building your kingdom by my witness of love for you. Send me your Spirit to guide my thoughts, words, and actions so that I may truly be balm among the “wolves” of this world. Action for the Day: Stop and pray a while today and identify one of the wolves in your life that threatens your ability to more faithfully serve God’s people around you. Replace that fear with the boldness needed to continue to build up the kingdom here on earth.