Discover His heart: He rewards our faithfulness when we face opposition
I always marveled at the tenacity and courage of an elderly man who stood day after day on various busy corners in our city wearing a placard. The sign said, “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16)
Through the years I saw him receive many signs of agreement with honking, thumbs up and friendly waves. I also saw crude gestures and unkind words. However, this did not deter the man from doing what he felt was his part in building the Kingdom of God. He didn’t let his temporary discomfort or the measure of his popularity affect the eternal destination of a soul that needed to hear the good news. I never heard if his stand for the Lord changed anyone’s life, but rest assured, Heaven was keeping track of it.
The story of Judah’s last king is a sad one. King Zedekiah was only 21 years old when he was appointed by King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon to rule over Judah as his vassal. Maybe his age played into his weak leadership, but regardless, he was only interested in saving his own life. The prophet Jeremiah was unpopular with the king and the Israelites living in Judah because his message from God was one they didn’t want to hear – surrender to God or die.
The king’s officials had imprisoned and beaten Jeremiah because they hated his message, yet the king secretly listened to the prophet’s message, “King Zedekiah secretly requested that Jeremiah come to the palace, where the king asked him, ‘Do you have any messages from the Lord?’” (37:17) Zedekiah was not willing to openly accept the message of the prophet because of fear of what his officials would think of him. What would they do to him? Jeremiah, however, bravely spoke God’s message no matter what the consequences.
Zedekiah would one day regret his cowardice. He eventually lost his kingdom, lost his family, lost his eyes and lost his freedom. (39:6-7) We do not have the promise that our stand for God will always save our lives – many have been martyred through the centuries – but we will be able to look back without regret.
Jeremiah had suffered much because he took a stand in the face of opposition, but he ultimately came out the winner. Jeremiah was offered freedom and protection by the Babylonian king who took Israel captive. What a different outcome than that of Zedekiah! The words of Jesus come to mind in Luke 12:8, “I tell you the truth, everyone who acknowledges me publicly here on earth, the Son of Man will also acknowledge in the presence of God’s angels.”
God may never lead us to wear a sign on the street corner, but He is expecting us to boldly stand for truth whenever and wherever we are given the opportunity. Whether it’s a new job or new neighborhood or perhaps a new relationship, taking a stand and proclaiming the truth in love are just easier over the long haul. They involve no cover-up or fancy footwork, promise no regrets and secure a place in heaven before God’s angels.
Moving Forward: May I live this day without regrets, not missing even one opportunity to take a stand for the One who will one day take a stand for me before all of Heaven.
Tomorrow @ Luke 3-4