Today I want to share from Andrew Womack's devotional "One Year With Jesus in the Gospels".
THE COST OF LIVING FOR CHRIST
Luke 9:58 "And Jesus said unto him, Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head."
This verse has often been used to support the misconception that Jesus and His disciples lived in poverty. However, in this instance, the fact that Jesus had nowhere to lay His head was because of persecution. The Samaritans, because of a religious prejudice, had just refused Him hospitality and a place to stay as He journeyed to Jerusalem. Persecution is part of the cost of living a Christian life. Jesus was communicating to this man that not having a place to stay at times was part of that cost.
There are many forms of persecution. Having your life threatened because of your faith in Jesus is one way you can be persecuted, but it is not the most damaging. History shows that the Church has always flourished under persecution with increased numbers and zeal. During intense, life-threatening persecution, people's priorities get straightened out and the Lord assumes His rightful place. This always works for our good, regardless of what our outward circumstances might be.
A far more deadly form of persecution is men simply speaking evil of you or separating you from their company. It's more deadly because it's more subtle.
Many who would never directly deny the Lord will fall into self-pity or strife because of someone's criticism. This will render one just as ineffective as a negative reaction to having one's life threatened would.
It helps to recognize that it is not you that they are persecuting, but rather Christ in you. You are actually becoming a partaker of His sufferings and will share His rewards. With this in mind, we can actually shout and leap for joy in persecution.First of all, I love that he addresses the wide misconception that Jesus was financially poor! Nothing could be further from the TRUTH! Jesus began his childhood with an abundance of gifts given by the caravans of visitors from the East that brought gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh! All of these things were of very high value in those days and would have been more than enough to support the family for the years that they had to live in Egypt away from Joseph's business as a 'carpenter'! Rick Renner has a fascinating section on this word in his Sparkling Gems From The Greek Volume 2 (March 11th). Here is a portion of that:
The remarkable city of Sepphoris also became the center of trade and commerce in the northern region of Israel, and it was one of the largest banking centers of the Middle East. Because of the extreme wealth of this city, it had facilities that would normally be associated only with larger cities, such as a huge theater that had a constant array of dramatic presentations. The city had scores of beautiful upper-class villas to accommodate the wealthy people who lived there, and it was adorned with some of the finest mosaics that existed in the First Century. In fact, even today one can see some of the finest examples of early mosaics lying in the ancient ruins of Sepphoris.
This city was exquisite in every way. Sophisticated and wealthy, it attracted visitors from around the world. Every day one could experience a wide range of different cultures, ethnic groups, and customs. People could be heard speaking Greek, Hebrew, and Aramaic in the streets. It was a tri-lingual city known for being open-minded and for having an emphasis on learning, education, and business. This city was so splendid that it influenced the entire region of Galilee.
Three miles away was Nazareth, a small village occupied mostly by workers who were employed in the enhancement of Sepphoris. It was here that Jesus grew up with His parents. Jesus’ father was a carpenter, from the Greek word teknos — a term that describes not a carpenter as we think of that profession, but a highly skilled craftsman who works in stone. Or it could even be used to depict a construction-site supervisor. Considering the likelihood that a little town such as Nazareth would not have much work available for a man with these skills, it is likely that Joseph was involved in the high level of construction taking place in nearby Sepphoris.So Joseph,and then Jesus, as He worked with Joseph, would have been a highly sought after and very skilled craftsman! JESUS had clothes that were valuable enough to gamble over and enough operating capital in His ministry that He needed someone to handle the money! No, He was NOT poor, but He "made Himself poor, for our sakes"! Another point that Andrew Womack makes in his devotional is that it is much harder for people to deal with the persecution that comes from people speaking evil of you and from your reputation being slandered. When your life is threatened, nothing else matters! But, when your day to day living is challenged, there is much more likelihood of the thoughtlife giving you problems that can be "hard to deal with and hard to bear"! BUT, the rewards for suffering this type of persecution, as JESUS most certainly did, (even His own family thought He was in need of rescuing!), are very great indeed! So, let's continue to daily 'shout and leap for joy at this type of persecution'! Here, to help you do just that, is Hillsong Young and Free with "Brighter"
Shalom in Him!