A Stern Warning about Selling Your Soul
“Blest are you poor; Blest are you who hunger; Blest are you who are weeping; Blest shall you be when men hate you.”
The message this weekend doesn’t end with just talking about the poor, hungry, weeping and their blessedness, but continues with a chastisement, “Woe to rich; Woe to you who are full; Woe to you who laugh now; Woe to you when all speak well of you.”
It seems as though neither the blessed or woe categories are appealing at first glance. These words of Jesus we might like to forget or ignore because they aren’t the most pleasant sounding and should make us a bit uncomfortable. Maybe they are words hitting a little too close to home. But they are words coming from a man who we claim speaks for God, a man we claim is God.
At first blush, the meaning of the words clearly points to the promise of eternal life. Christian life is difficult on earth and many of the faithful will suffer greatly, but the promise of endless peace awaits those who have persevered. ‘Woe’ is a strong word used for those who those who seek peace now and forget there is more to reality besides the here and now.
For most Christians who know their lives are not a bed of roses filled with bliss, may look at the words of Jesus and think they fall in the camp of the blest. No woe to me because I am neither rich, nor completely filled. Sometimes laughter but surely my objective is not seeking a life so others honor me with their words. Yea, I am confident I don’t fit in the “woe” category so life can go on as usual. Can you really be that sure?
In our world today the difference between the blest and the cursed is more prominent than it has been in the last 50 years. Countless businesses have entered in agreements with tyrannical governments suppressing human rights all for the almighty dollar. Woe to the rich. Thousands of people invest money in companies with little or no moral and ethical principles only because the return on their money is greater. Woe to the rich.
Too many others have sacrificed their own principles or changed them to accommodate the politics because of the fear of losing a job. The paycheck will continue today, so you can laugh and be filled, not like those now unemployed. But it comes at quite a cost—the loss of your convictions. If you don’t have convictions, what do you really have? The “woe” of laughter and fullness is not a conviction but a warning.
Still, fearful others are more afraid of men hating them and will do whatever is necessary to have others speak well of them. Nothing has been more illuminating than the slanderous words of oppressors. The courageous Christian knows the difference between right and wrong and cares little about what others say about him even if the words are hateful. Blest shall you be when men hate you.
Christianity is not easy, nor is doing the right thing. But what is the alternative? Selling your soul for a short- term earthly gain while at the same time hollowing out and crushing your spiritual life?
“So then, my beloved, obedient as you have always been, not only when I am present but all the more now when I am absent, work out your salvation with fear and trembling” (Philippians 2:12).