God’s Word for You
Matthew 5:11-12 Like Moonlight
by Pastor Timothy Smith on Saturday, March 7, 2020
11 Blessed are you whenever people insult you, persecute you, and say all kinds of false and evil things against you because of me. 12 Rejoice in that day and leap for joy because of this: Your reward is great in heaven! The fact is, their fathers constantly did the same things to the prophets who came before you.
June 29, 1905, was a Thursday. The New York Giants baseball team was ahead of Brooklyn 10-0 when Moonlight Graham came in to play in the Eighth Inning in right field. After an uneventful three-up, three-down, he was on deck to bat in the ninth when Claude Elliot popped out to end the inning. Moonlight Graham never played in the majors again, and his ten minutes in right field and ten seconds in the on-deck circle are probably the shortest Major-League career in all of professional Baseball.
While he was in the outfield and on deck, nobody knew who he was; no one cheered for him (he was so young, he hadn’t even met his wife yet), no one even blinked when he walked into the dugout, never to play in the majors again.
Is that the kind of Christian career you’re going to have? No runs, no hits, no errors, never got a glove on the ball, never even swung at bat; never even stood in the batter’s box? Never talked about the gospel with anybody? Never once encouraged your own kids to go to church? Never said “Jesus” out loud except to break the Second Commandment?
The Lord Jesus tells us: When you get insulted, persecuted, scoffed at, jeered at, for his sake—you’re doing something right. When your kids groan when you get them up for church, when they roll their eyes when you ask them if they have their offering envelopes, when your spouse tags along just because when you want to go to Bible Class, you’re doing what you can in your own little circle for the sake of the Gospel. Your reward, Jesus says, is great in heaven.
You might not want to jump up and down for joy when your future in-laws turn out to be unbelievers who think that Christians have to be the stupidest, most gullible people on earth. But Jesus says, The fact is, back in the days of ancient Israel, people constantly did the same thing to the prophets. Samuel’s kids probably didn’t want to get up in the morning and go to church, but Samuel wanted them there. Why? Because it would look good to the neighbors? No—he wanted them there because it’s God’s will that we go, and that we worship him and learn about him.
And even though Adam and Eve had children who were fine with filling up their offering envelopes before church—they did it with animal sacrifices and part of their harvest—one of the boys rolled his eyes and didn’t want to give over the best to God. But Adam and Eve were doing their best, as you will, when you accept encouragement to live your faith, when you encourage your families to do the same.
It’s by getting into the word of God and getting ourselves in the pews in church on Sundays that we learn about God’s grace, give him praise, and receive the forgiveness of sins again and again to assure us that although we stumble and fall into sin and more sin again and again, God is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger, and abounding in love.
Show your faith by the ordinary things that you do, done for the glory of God even though they might not be glorious to the world. Like Moonlight Graham, who was also a medical doctor, with a practice right here in Minnesota, and who saved whole towns from Polio by teaching and vaccinating their children, and by fighting the influenza outbreak during World War I. He didn’t get a trophy for that, and you and I won’t get trophies for our everyday labor as Christians, but “Great is your reward in heaven.” Amen.
Pastor Timothy Smith