You know, as I was thinking about the promised reward found in Matthew 5:12, it made me think of the work I am currently doing as a preschool teacher. Now, most days at work are pretty OK - the people are friendly, the kids are behaving well, and it’s just a normal day.
But then there are some days when it feels really difficult. Maybe it's that I’m not getting along well with one of my co-workers, or maybe the kids are being particularly naughty that day, or maybe it’s just one of those super busy days - and I find myself getting irritated, frustrated, tired, and grumpy.
Now, do you know what always helps to lift my mood? I just think about payday. I imagine that there is a day coming when I’m going to be paid for all of my trouble. Now maybe that doesn't make the problem go away - but it does a lot in changing my attitude toward the problem.
The kind of reward that Jesus promises in Matthew 5:12 is far greater than a temporary paycheck at the end of the month. Here, Jesus is talking about a heavenly reward. In fact, Jesus calls it a great reward. It is far, far better than any good thing you and I can think or imagine. And this blessing, this reward that Jesus is talking about, is forever!
“Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.” (Matthew 5:11-12, NIV).
"Sprinklers, limestone plaster, frame repellant window gel, and a hand-poured concrete basement. This is what Chris Arai used to withstand the fires.
"Wildfires have burnt thousands of California homes to the ground in recent years.
"Engineer Chris Arai has spent more than 15 years fireproofing his Sonoma County home, outfitting it with a gas-powered sprinkler system, flame-repellant window gel, and a concrete basement he poured by hand.
"When the Kincade Fire ripped through Arai's rural community last year, the engineer's home was the only one that survived the blaze."
Chris went to great lengths to fire-proof his home. While many scrambled as the wildfires crept closer, since he was well prepared, his home was able to withstand the fire that destroyed his neighbor's home.
How will the life you've built stand up to the fire that's coming when God tests the quality of what you've done?
"For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ. If anyone builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, their work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each person’s work" (1 Corinthians 3:11-13, NIV).
A Yahoo Sports headline says it all. "Six future first-round picks have already been traded." That is surprising for several reasons, not the least of which is the date on the calendar. Today is October 16, 2019. The NFL Draft isn't until April 23-25, 2020, over six months away.
With each of these men, their new teams felt they were the missing piece for them to win right NOW. Of course, by trading away draft picks, these teams are mortgaging away their future.
How about you? Are you trading away your future for the possibility of getting what you want now? Jesus warned us not to store up our "treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal," but to store up "treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal; for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also" (Matthew 6:19-21).
The great danger Jesus was concerned about is that our hearts will follow our treasure. Do you really want to give your heart to this passing world? Even if moth and rust don't consume these investments, time certainly will. What we horde for the moment will be gone in a moment. What we store for eternity will be ours for eternity.
By the way, the previously mentioned teams who traded away their future picks to win today are currently a combined 12-11. The other lesson here is that even when we sell our futures, it rarely gives us what want in the present.