“What is the price of two sparrows—one copper coin? But not a single sparrow can fall to the ground without your Father knowing it. And the very hairs on your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are more valuable to God than a whole flock of sparrows.” (Matthew 10:29-31)
These verses have always been encouraging to me. When I first did my search on the word without, I was tickled that these verses came up. I was delighted to be able to offer encouragement about how attentive God is to the smallest details of our lives. You know … linking back to Psalm 139 and all that good stuff.
In context, though, these verses have a different purpose. I didn’t realize that until I started writing this post. They are still very encouraging! But encouraging for a different reason.
Honestly, I’m reluctant to post this on Saturday, as I would have preferred today’s post to be a bit lighter. But after praying about it, I feel confident that today is the day for this. So … here we go!
In Matthew 10, Jesus commissioned His twelve disciples for their first mission trip. He gave them specific instructions and told them what to expect when they shared the gospel. It was for them at that time, for their future, and for us. He told them …
- To heal people and to share the message of the kingdom
- Not to accept payment of any kind. Instead, they were to live off of the grateful hospitality of those they met
- To expect ill-treatment, threats, and persecution
- What to do if a town didn’t welcome them
Knowing they were afraid, He also told them not to fear man. The only One they had to fear was God (verse 28).
But really, they didn’t need to fear Him at all.
It was with all of this in mind that Jesus told them how much their Father loved them and was aware of every detail of life. God knows even when a sparrow (which, in the scheme of things, isn’t worth that much) falls to the ground.
Sparrows are sweet, little birds–and God cares about them. But He cares more about the hair on our heads!
Think about it. Every time we drag a brush through our hair, God knows how many hairs are left on our heads, and how many are left in the brush.
Honestly, it can be scary to share the gospel and to stand up for our faith. The cost of following Christ can mean being excluded from relationships and/or activities, becoming the object of bullying, teasing, and other abuse. There are places where it means martyrdom.
But the gospel is worth it. We’re talking about eternity!
For I am not ashamed of this Good News about Christ. It is the power of God at work, saving everyone who believes—the Jew first and also the Gentile. (Romans 1:16) [Emphasis added.]
Finally, Jesus tells His disciples that if they acknowledge Christ publicly, God would honor them in eternity.
Blessed are those who are persecuted for doing what God approves of. The kingdom of heaven belongs to them. Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you, lie, and say all kinds of evil things about you because of me. Rejoice and be glad because you have a great reward in heaven! The prophets who lived before you were persecuted in these ways. (Matthew 5:10-12 GW)
I know the suffering listed in those verses doesn’t sound very appealing. In fact, if you’re like me, you might prefer to do what you can to avoid it. But … we can adjust our perspective. Paul encouraged the suffering Philippian church with these words:
For you have been given not only the privilege of trusting in Christ but also the privilege of suffering for him. We are in this struggle together. You have seen my struggle in the past, and you know that I am still in the midst of it. (Philippians 1:29-30)
Earlier this year, God challenged me to take a more active role in praying for our suffering brothers and sisters. Six months ago I started praying for the persecuted Church every time I signed my name. You can read about it here. In the post following that one (click here), I explain in more detail how I pray for them.
The gospel is worth it. We’re talking about eternity!
Christians across the globe are dying for their faith. They are standing strong. A couple of weeks ago, ISIS purged a village near Aleppo, Syria, of all Christians. Forcing them to deny Christ or to face certain execution. Some of the women were publicly gang-raped and then crucified. Others were beheaded–all the while praying aloud to their Savior, Jesus Christ. Here is a quote from the article:
They kept on praying loudly and sharing Jesus until their last breath,” he said. “They did this in front of the villagers as a testimony for others
But … in Amman, something else was happening! A Muslim who went to a Christian meeting with the intent of killing them, didn’t. The same article quotes him as saying:
The next day he came back and said, “I came to kill you, but last night I saw Jesus, and I want to know what are you teaching—who is this One who held me up from killing you?” the director said. He received Christ with tears, and today he’s actually helping in the church, helping out other people. We’re praying for lots of such Sauls to change to Pauls.
This … THIS!!!! This is the goal! That others come to know CHRIST! And it IS happening!
So … We need to share our faith. Yes, it’s scary. But it’s worth it! We are not alone. We have each other. We can and should encourage one another as we struggle together!
Even more … God is with us.
He knows exactly what we are going through. He is aware of everything that touches our lives–from the very hairs on our heads, to every stinging word or comment thrown in our direction–even when we are faced with death because of our faith.The gospel is worth it! We're talking about eternity!