I was reading Matthew 10 with my wife last night, and I realized that I had meant to come back to this passage in a bit more detail, and never did. So before I move on, let’s go back a bit to the instructions Jesus gave to his disciples when they went out to minister to Israel.
There are many things that strike me here. First, Jesus’ words in verses 7-8 where he instructs them to preach the kingdom, to heal, raise the dead, and drive out demons, after which he says,
Freely you have received, freely give. (8b)
In other words, you have received the grace of God freely, so give freely of it. The kingdom of God is not for the purpose of making worldly profit. This is not to say that people can’t be financially supported for their work, because he says in the next verse, that a worker is worth his keep. But our goal in preaching the gospel should not be getting something from the other person. Rather, it is to pass on to them what we have received.
But the thing that strikes me most is that Jesus warns them that not everyone will accept them. Not everyone will love them for giving them God’s message and doing his work.
In fact, he specifically warns them that some people would reject them, and hate them for it. And so he warns them that they should be wary of the very people they minister to, even their own families. Sounds paranoid? In this day and age, it probably is. But in that day and age it wasn’t. Persecution became very great in the early part of the church, particularly in the time of Saul. And if you trusted everyone, you would be dead. Even your own family members and friends would betray you, because like Saul, they thought they were doing God’s will.
So Jesus told them, be as wise as serpents. In short, think before you act. Think about who you’re dealing with. Can they be trusted? But he also told them to be as innocent as doves. Don’t become so jaded to people because of betrayal that you become like them, hating and trying to hurt them back.
What can we get from this? Understand that if you follow Jesus, not everyone will love you for it. You may not have to worry about being killed because of your family and friends, but they may very well reject you.
Jesus told his disciples,
A student is not above his teacher, nor a servant above his master. It is enough for the student to be like his teacher, and the servant like his master. If the head of the house has been called Beelzebub, how much more the members of his household! (24-25)
Jesus was perfect love. He was perfect in all his ways. And people still hated him. They called him the devil himself. And then they killed him. If we follow Jesus, can we expect to be treated better than our teacher?
So don’t make it your goal to be loved by everyone. It won’t happen. Rather, simply make it your goal to be like your Teacher, the one who gave everything for you, even his own life.