I find the teaching of Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount to be some of the most convicting and challenging portions in the entire bible. The teaching of Jesus assaults my selfishness and flesh like no other section of Scripture. It reveals the sin that is in my heart and mind (Matthew 5:21-23; 28,29). The words of Jesus relay the idea of doing more than the minimum for His Name’s sake. Rather than giving way to my flesh and digging my proverbial heels into the ground to settle the score or stand for my rights, Jesus tells me to “go the extra mile” (Matthew 5:38-42).
The apostle Paul wrote to the saints in Rome to: “be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good.” (Romans 12:21) The apostle Peter wrote to the church that we are not to render “evil for evil, or railing for railing: but contrariwise blessing; knowing that ye are thereunto called, that ye should inherit a blessing.” (1 Peter 3:9)
I don’t know about you, but apart from the power of the indwelling Spirit of God, I do not have the resources to live in such a way (Romans 9:11-13). I need to constantly set before me the example of Jesus as a servant (John 13:1-17; Mark 10:45) who was silent in the face of being wrongly treated (1 Peter 2:21-23).
The writer to Hebrews encourages us to: “…lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God. For consider Him that endured such contradiction of sinners against Himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds.” (Hebrews 12:1-3)
Rather than this being a life of gloom, we discover that when we determine to live for Jesus’ Name and His glory, a tremendous joy floods our soul. When the apostles were beaten for sharing Christ with people, we read that: “they departed from the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for His name.” (Acts 5:41) When Paul and Silas were incarcerated for the crime of living for Jesus, we read that: “at midnight Paul and Silas prayed, and sang praises unto God.” (Acts 16:25)
Beloved, the only way that we can experience that same joy when we are being mistreated is by realizing that we are walking dead men (Galatians 2:20). “Rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ’s sufferings; that, when His glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy. If ye be reproached for the name of Christ, happy are ye; for the Spirit of glory and of God resteth upon you: on their part He is evil spoken of, but on your part He is glorified.” (1 Peter 4:13,14)