22 “Blessed are you when people hate you, and when they exclude you, revile you, and defame you* on account of the Son of Man. 23 Rejoice in that day and leap for joy, for surely your reward is great in heaven; for that is what their ancestors did to the prophets.
Footnotes: *Luke 6:22 Gk cast out your name as evil
(Luke 6:22-23, NRSV)
Sunday, I got a little riled because I felt my name had been cast out as evil when I was identified by one of my character defects during a Bible study. I felt as though I had been singled out as “argumentative” when what was actually happening was that my Bible study facilitator, who was insecure about a writing he brought to share, was soliciting my input as a way to balance it out and to respond to the questions it raised in his own mind. What he actually said was I was “good at arguing” and implied that he meant in defense of Scripture. The beatitudes were even a part of the discussion, though this one was clearly not in my selfish, fearful mind at the time. Had it been, my face should have shown with the radiance of Stephen, but instead I just burned up with hurt.
This reminds me that when fear is near, Self is at the helm of my ship. As soon as I got disturbed I should have recognized that, rather than stewing about it and making matters worse.
When fear comes, and I am conscious of it, I like to play it out to the worst case scenario, and then admit that, even then, God would still be in charge and could use it for His glory. Even in this, the worst case scenario would be that my friend actually did despise me as an argumentative ass and everyone in the room decided to believe him and despise me too. That is highly unlikely, as this roomful of people constitutes the greatest group of loving souls with which I have ever had the pleasure to surround myself. But even so, the Bible says when I am cast out as evil on account of the Son of Man it’s time for a happy dance, not a pity party.
Since I stepped out of the muck of selfish fear regarding that moment, I have received affirmation that my contributions to the class are valued and not despised. The thief was merely trying to steal my joy, testimony, and prayer power that day. I will not surrender them again so easily.
Dear Father, today, help me to remember that it is better to be wronged than to defend my selfishness; better to be unloved than to withhold love; better to be despised for Your Name than to be esteemed by the world for being like it. Help me to lovingly serve all I can today and harm none. Help me to extinguish the insecurities of self that I may be free to selflessly serve You and Yours.