Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for My sake. Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven. Matthew 5:11-12a (KJV, emphasis added)
"Sticks and stones may break my bones but names," well, you know the rest.
Maybe, but I still don't like being called names. Do you? A lady, with whom I visited many years ago, gave me an insight into how a Christian deals with anti-Christian behavior.
She was from India where her mother still lived. The lady shared how her mother had been persecuted by the neighbors when she converted to Christianity. No, the persecution wasn't violent or bloody. It's just that people shunned the mother and her little ones. Seeing what their parents were doing, the village children started to call the family names when they walked to the market.
One of those children yelled out, "You're the ugliest old woman I ever saw!" The mother's reply was most remarkable. She stopped, turned, and said, "Isn't it wonderful how my Savior can love an ugly old woman such as me."
What a fantastic response!
Now, I don't know what that lady looked like on the outside, but I know on the inside, the part that God sees, she must have been beautiful. She would have been beautiful because this lady had the risen Savior in her heart and Jesus had transformed her. Where this lady might once have been devastated by the children's cruel comments, now she was able to respond with a strong statement of faith in her Lord.
I share that story with you because there are a lot of Christians who, right here in our country, are being persecuted in ways both harsh and subtle. We can learn much from this lady. Rather than folding or getting furious at such an onslaught, we -- like this woman -- should rely on the Savior to give us a response.
In so doing, we can turn away the criticism and bear a powerful witness to the Christ. Then, when we're done, we can rejoice and be exceedingly glad the Holy Spirit has used us to tell the Savior's story.
From a devotion originally written for "By the Way"
THE PRAYER: Dear God, by the Savior's actions the ugliness of sin has been washed from my soul. Now may I powerfully share the Savior so the world may know of Your love. With a thankful heart, I pray. Amen.
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In Christ I remain His servant and yours,
Pastor Ken Klaus
Speaker emeritus of The Lutheran Hour®
Lutheran Hour Ministries