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By Rev. Dr. Teresa Allissa Citro

Founder and President of Thread of Hope, Inc.

“Blessed are you when people hate you, avoid you, insult you, and slander you because you are committed to the Son of Man. Rejoice then, and be very happy!

You have a great reward in heaven.”

Luke 6:22-23

This morning, I stumbled on this verse. Of course, I didn’t really stumble on it. The Spirit of God led me to it. My heart immediately felt joy. Let me explain, please. Why would I or anyone else be hated? I know I’m a good person, and I’m sure that those who are here reading are even better than me. So then, why would wonderful, kind, loving, and sincere people be hated? It doesn’t make sense, right? Well, it does make a lot of sense.

Let me continue. Why would someone want to avoid positive, kind, helpful, generous, ready to give their coat to those in need kind of people? It doesn’t make sense, right? Let me continue, please.

Why would someone want to insult those who go about constantly caring about the well-being of others and trying to make it better for them? Giving of their time, fighting for their rights, taking care of the poor and the needy, speaking on behalf of those who can’t defend themselves, looking out for the destitute and the hurting. It doesn’t make sense, right? Let me continue. Please, bear with me.

Why would anyone want to slander and lie about a life that’s committed to making a difference in the lives of those who can’t defend and fight for themselves? It doesn’t make any sense, right? Let me continue, thank you for bearing with me here.

The answer is not so shocking. Coming right from the mouth of Jesus Christ Himself, “Because you are committed to the Son of Man.” You see, you can’t serve two masters. You love one and hate the other.

Satan is the father of all lies. He hates. He lies. He slanders. He avoids. He insults. He destroys. He kills. He is all matter of evil. His influence is in this world, and we live on planet earth. This means that every single person here chooses whom they will serve. Joshua said, “As for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.” That decision guaranteed his blessings. It secured them like a bound or unbreakable contract. He and Caleb were the only two people out of thousands upon thousands of Israelites from their generation who actually entered the Promised Land.

Joshua refused to listen to all his peers and do that which was evil before the sight of God. He stood for righteousness, and he and Caleb were slandered, hated, avoided, insulted, and finally they were almost stoned to death. Can you even believe it? What had they done? They obeyed God. They believed God. They were trying to help the people get to where God wanted them to go, a land flowing with milk and honey. “Let’s go! God will give us victory,” was their cry.

The people created lies and began to slander them. Can you even imagine that they tried to kill them by stoning them to death? Watch this. God DID NOT allow it. God’s anger burned against that wicked and evil generation. He cursed them by not allowing any of them to enter the Promised Land. Each one died in the desert, except for Joshua and Caleb, and the children of the people of their generation. It's unbelievable that they made their journey out of a land of slavery with a promise of arriving into their own land, only to die in a desert, and their bodies left there to be eaten by the wild animals, not even a proper burial. What a lesson for us to learn.

Actually, there are a few lessons in this devotional. Let those who have ears hear what the Spirit of God is saying. I love the ending of the verse above, “Rejoice and be happy.” Let me continue, please.

Rejoice and be happy; you say, “How?” It is with great joy and pure delight to answer this question. Continue to walk in righteousness. Continue to walk in doing good. Live a life of godliness. Speak for truth. Defend those who can’t defend themselves. Live lives of honor, integrity, and going about in all truth. Speak up to injustice. Be honorable. Defend life. Defend that which is holy and righteous. Fear God and not man. Does this all make sense now? Please, allow me to continue.

Finally, we get to the end, “You have a great reward in Heaven.” This life here on earth is not our final destination. There are only two places to go after this, either Heaven or Hell.

I choose Heaven. This decision means that I need to walk in the ways of God.

“Jesus said to him, ‘ am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.’” And that’s the 'problem'. People are hated, insulted, slandered, and avoided. Their crime? My crime? Following Jesus, and that’s extremely offensive.

"Why?" you ask? He died for my sins and yours. He paid a price with His very life to set us free. We were like the Israelites who were slaves to Egypt. God sent Moses and then Joshua to set them free. God sent Jesus to die on a cross to rescue us from the clutches of death. He took away the sins of this world. Satan hasn’t been quiet since. He must create hate towards the people of God. We are to rejoice and be happy. They hated Him, Jesus Christ, the Deliverer Himself. You and I will be hated, too, for doing that which is right.

Make up your mind whom you will serve. You can only serve one. Church, the greatest hour arrived today. I’m rejoicing. I’m excited. I’m of the “Joshua” spirit. I’m going to enter the Promised Land. “As for me and my household, we shall serve the Lord.” Victory is ours TODAY!

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