Jul 25 15

Hope for Discouraged Christians


And every one that hath forsaken houses, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my name’s sake, shall receive an hundredfold, and shall inherit everlasting life. (Matthew 19:29)

This passage in Matthew is most helpful for discouraged Christians. Jesus knew the exact time to give His disciples encouragement because there were many negative overtones to His teachings. It was necessary for Him to deal with the sinful nature of men and to issue warnings of the wrath to come; and indeed we find much of the Bible is concerned with the destruction of the flesh, the downfall of the world’s systems, and the final punishment in hell for all that do not receive Christ as Saviour. It is also necessary for us to deal with these doctrines because a person must know of his sinful condition and the consequences of it before he can repent of his sins and trust Christ. After this information is given, we must further instruct those that believe concerning the hardships of living the Christian life. Unsuspecting new converts can be shattered unless they know it is not unusual to experience pain and suffering because of their faith. This is an inevitable result of following Christ. As Jesus said, the world will hate us because it hated Him. You can see from this that much of the Bible’s teachings must be negative because we live in a fallen, sinful world.

With so many negatives, is there anything positive? The disciples wondered this as they were being trained because they were graphically living out the negative aspects of following Christ. When Jesus perceived the weight of their present problems was becoming extremely burdensome, He broke through the negatives in scriptures such as Matthew 19:28-29. This is the promise of a glorious future in which He will come to sit on the throne of David and will rule the world in perfect peace and righteousness. This is a wonderful prospect which is far more than they could expect. Just to live in a holy kingdom without pain, suffering, hunger, and the constant attacks of Satan is more than they could ask. These factors alone are great encouragement.

However, in this scripture, Jesus steps beyond His personal ruling authority to let His disciples know they will also have their part ruling in the Kingdom. This is what they hoped for all along even though they did not fully understand what it would take to occupy their places of authority. They would become great in the Kingdom by first becoming the lowly servants of others. But still, without this full understanding, these verses came when they surely needed encouragement. They were on their way to Jerusalem for the last days of Jesus’ life when it would seem discouragement was all that was in store.

One of the great truths of this passage is to teach us not to always focus on our present circumstances. When our thoughts are too much on the present, they spoil the ability the future has to give us hope when needed. Christ taught the disciples in this place to look beyond their current hardships to their glorious future. The coming Kingdom would prove that everything they gave up for Him would be more than equally compensated; it would be exponentially increased with eternal rather than temporal value.

This is the same hope we are to look forward to in this promise made by Christ. These disciples are typical of all disciples—it will be worth it all for all of us. Never doubt the reality of His precious future promises. It will make all the difference in the world of how you are able face life’s challenges.

Pastor V. Mark Smith