Don’t Get Stuck in the Muck
DON’T GET STUCK IN THE MUCK
Matthew 5: 11-12
It is hard to believe but camp begins in less than 3 ½ months. The first session for the younger kids begins on June 9…I hope you will keep that in mind as you plan your summer.
- About 4 years ago Max dug a small pit out at the camp…and we filled that pit full of water…and Chuck Bailey procured a big rope…and we had some serious “Tug O War”.
- On one side of the pit we got all the boys…and on the other side of the pit we got all the girls…and initially that doesn’t sound very fair…but there were several more girls than there were boys…
- And as you can imagine there was some taunting…and some goading; “You are a bunch of girls!” “You guys think you are so tough!”
- And I would tell the boys, “Don’t let those girls beat you…that will be pretty embarrassing.” Then I would tell the girls, “Come on girls…you can beat that bunch of boys.”
- And then it started…both sides pulling…and pulling…and pulling….as hard as they could…trying to drag the other team into the mud and the muck.
- And after they went back and forth…finally the first boy slipped off of the edge of the pit and into the muck he went…and then the second…and then several more…and then several more.
- The boys let the girls pull them into the pit…into the mud…and the muck…and once they got in it…they had a hard time getting out!
- They would try to climb out and they would slip right back in!
- They were covered….they were stuck in the muck.
In the passage that was read Jesus is going to talk to us about not getting “stuck in the muck.”
- He is not going to talk about mud…but He will talk about a different kind of muck that His disciples can easily get stuck in.
- And He is going to tell us what we need to do to keep from getting “stuck in the muck.”
- Look again at vs. 11.
11 “Blessed are you when men cast insults at you, and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely, on account of Me.
- Now, notice the three wrongs.
Jesus says, “Blessed are you when men cast insults at you.”
- Now, Jesus wants us to know that if we truly, in our minds and our hearts, make a whole hearted commitment to being just like Christ…not perfect, not sinless….can’t do that…Jesus had to do that for us…
- But if we fully commit ourselves to follow Him and His teachings…if we obey His word and bring our lives up to the standard He desires…
- If we do that Jesus says, “You are going to get insulted.”
- People are going to make fun of you.
- Your light, without having an attitude of “holier than thou”, will expose the darkness in their lives and they aren’t going to like it.
- And they will insult you…and deride you…and they will do what they can to tear you down.
- They will say things that are hurtful.
- That is the first wrong.
Look at the second: They will “persecute you.”
- “Persecute” is an interesting word…do you hear in the word the idea of “pursue?” “Pursue…persecute.”
- That is the Hebrew idea behind this word: People will pursue you to bring you pain!
- People will pursue you to bring suffering and ill-will to your life.
- They don’t like you.
They will insult you and pursue you with the goal of making your life more painful.
- Why? Because you are living for Christ!
- You are standing out…you are being different…and in doing so you are making yourself a target.
Look at the third wrong: “…and they say all kinds of evil against you falsely.”
- They lie! Slander…gossip!
- People will say things about you that are not true!
- People who play in shadows…who enjoy chaos…who like to go and have little conversations behind your back and lie about you with evil intent!
- They will try to change the perception that other people have about you so that those other people will join the group that is persecuting, and insulting, and lying about you!
- Jesus says, “This will happen.”
Now, how do you respond to these kinds of things?
- In vs. 12 Jesus says that we are to “Rejoice and be glad!”
- But that is not how most people respond.
- What are some of the typical responses when you are treated unfairly?
- How do we handle something like this…all the lies, the insults, the harsh treatment?
- And when Jesus says, “Rejoice and be glad” what is He telling us?
One typical response is to get ANGRY.
- “You insulted me and I don’t like it!”
- “He insulted me a long time ago and I am still mad!”
- “How long ago did he insult you?” “Twenty years ago!” “And you are still mad?” “Yes, and I am not sure I will ever get over it.”
Do you know what those who insulted you did?
- They pulled you down into the muck…the same muck they are in!
- They insult you…you get angry…you get mad and stay mad….you are stepping into the muck.
Look at this verse: James 1:20 …for the anger of man does not achieve the righteousness of God.
Ephesians 4:26-27 Be angry, and yet do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, 27 and do not give the devil an opportunity.
When Jesus says, “Rejoice and be glad” one of the things that He is telling us is, “Don’t let them pull you into the muck!”
- “When they insult you…when they make fun of you…and they will…(“So you think you are a Christian?” “You are nothing but a hypocrite.” “What, do you think you are better than I am?”) don’t let them pull you into the mud and the muck!
- Rise above it!
Well, maybe anger isn’t your thing. Maybe you are more of a “get even kind of person.”
- “I don’t get angry, I get even.” “I get revenge.”
- “You insulted me…you just wait…I’ll get you back.”
- “You persecuted me…you hurt me…wait till you see what I do to you.”
- “You lied about me…I will just lie about you.”
When you do something like that in response to what they did to you what have you let them do?
- You have let them pull you into the muck!
Look at these verses: 1 Thessalonians 5:15 See that no one repays another with evil for evil, but always seek after that which is good for one another and for all men.
Ephesians 4:32 And be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.
- Do you see what Jesus is doing here through the apostle Paul?
- He is saying, “Don’t get down in the mud with them…down into a wrestling match with them.”
- “Be above that!” “Rejoice and be glad.”
So when we do what is right in the eyes of God and someone insults us, and persecutes us, and lies about us…the typical human response is to get ANGRY, TO GET EVEN, and then to GET SASSY!.
- “Did I just say that?”
- Put them in their place…yell at them…talk back to them…”You jerk!”
- Maybe say some other choice words!
Look at these verses: Ephesians 4:29 Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, that it may give grace to those who hear.
James 3:8-9 But no one can tame the tongue; it is a restless evil and full of deadly poison. 9 With it we bless our Lord and Father; and with it we curse men, who have been made in the likeness of God;
What is Paul and James saying: “Don’t let their lies…their slander…their gossip…their insults…their persecution pull you down into the muck where they are.”
- Instead of sinking down to that level…Jesus says, “Rejoice and be glad.”
Now, back in Matthew look at what Jesus says again in vs. 12. He says: “Rejoice, and be glad,”
- Why? Why do I “rejoice and be glad”? Why not sink into the muck?
- Well, there are two things.
Look what He says: “For your reward in heaven is great.”
- The reason for avoiding getting down in the muck and the mud and wrestling with all the people that are after you is because of your reward.
- When you honor God…when you choose to not get angry…to not get even…to not get sassy…when you choose not to sling mud and muck yourself…when you honor God by not doing those things…God in return will honor you.
- “For your reward in heaven is great” – just think about all that includes.
- But if you sink down into the muck…what do you get?
And it is not easy to swallow your anger…and it not easy to not be sassy…and it is not easy to not get even…
- In fact, some times it is frustrating and tiring…going day after day after day and not hitting back.
- But the thing that keeps us going is He knows…He knows what is going on…He is using us to try and teach those that are hurting us…and we know that He is going to reward us.
And then the second reason for avoiding getting down in the muck is “prophetic identity.” Look at the end of vs. 12:
12 “Rejoice, and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
- How did these people…how did the Jews perceive the prophets?
- Because of their service to God the prophets were highly exalted by the people (Elijah, Daniel, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Hosea, Joel, Amos).
What reward do you think these prophets received from God?
- What Jesus is saying here is, “that by suffering the insults, the persecution, the lies…and not getting stuck in the muck…but remaining faithful to God…these people could expect the prophets reward!
- Jesus has just put these people on the same plain as the prophets.
Just like the prophets were persecuted for their faith in God…you will be too.
- And just like the prophets, if you will endure and remain faithful…you will receive the reward of heaven.
I think about Jesus and how He handled it when they badmouthed Him?
- “He breaks our traditions! He violates the Sabbath! He drives out demons by Satan? He is demon possessed! He is a drunk and a glutton! He is a friend of tax collectors and sinners! He is a blasphemer!
- They mocked Him, hurled insults at Him.
- How did He respond?
1 Peter 2:21-24
21 For you have been called for this purpose, since Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example for you to follow in His steps, 22 who committed no sin, nor was any deceit found in His mouth; 23 and while being reviled, He did not revile in return; while suffering, He uttered no threats, but kept entrusting Himself to Him who judges righteously;
We, as the body of Christ are called to a higher standard…a high place.
- Lets not go get down and get stuck in the muck.
- Lets be true followers of Jesus Christ…receivers of grace…and lets offer grace to the world.
© Sunset Ridge Church of Christ 2023