Man, It’s Hard to Be a Christian!
By Peter Amsterdam
Love your enemies.
Do good to those who hate you.
Bless those who curse you.
Pray for those who mistreat you.
Whoever hits you on the cheek, offer him the other also.
Give to everyone who asks of you, and whoever takes away what is yours, do not demand it back.
Lend, expecting nothing in return. (Luke 6:27–30,35 NASB)
Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions. (Luke 12:15 NIV)
Whoever wishes to become great among you shall be your servant. (Matthew 20:26 NASB)
Jesus said all of these things, and He expects us to actually do them. That’s the kicker. They’re hard!
Obviously, it costs to be a follower of Jesus, so why would anyone want to? “What’s in it for me?” That’s a fair question. Let’s take a look at the package.
First, you’ve got to think long-term—very long-term. It’s clear in the Scriptures that rewards are given in the afterlife and that they are connected to how we lead our lives on earth.
Behold, I am coming soon! My reward is with me, and I will give to everyone according to what he has done. (Revelation 22:12 NIV)
Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving. (Colossians 3:23–24 NIV)
No one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ. If any man builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, his 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 man’s work. If what he has built survives, he will receive his reward. (1 Corinthians 3:11–14 NIV)
The Son of Man will come in the glory of His Father with His angels, and then He will reward each according to his works. (Matthew 16:27)
Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal.
But store up for yourselves 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 NASB)
Blessed is a man who perseveres under trial; for … he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him. (James 1:12 NASB)
Besides rewards in the afterlife, God also rewards us in this life.
All these blessings shall come upon you and overtake you, because you obey the voice of the Lord your God. … The Lord will open to you His good treasure, the heavens, to give the rain to your land in its season, and to bless all the work of your hand. (Deuteronomy 28:2, 12)
Give, and you will receive. Your gift will return to you in full—pressed down, shaken together to make room for more, running over, and poured into your lap. The amount you give will determine the amount you get back. (Luke 6:38 NLT)
When you do a charitable deed, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, that your charitable deed may be in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will Himself reward you openly. (Matthew 6:3–4)
If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love, just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love. (John 15:10)
The Bible makes a clear case that we will be rewarded both in this life and the next for doing the things that Jesus said we should do, even though they go against our human nature. Perhaps the fact that they are so hard has something to do with why God rewards us for doing them.
We “lay up treasure in heaven” by making right decisions now, by living in such a way that we help “His kingdom come, His will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” (Matthew 6:10) It’s a bit like putting money in the bank. Imagine that for every time you showed love or mercy or did a kind deed, a sum of money was deposited in your bank account. What if every time you forgave someone who wronged you, a check was deposited? If that happened, then doing what Jesus said wouldn’t seem so hard, would it?
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