Rick Warren - When You're Harassed and Bullied
Hi everybody. Welcome to Saddleback this weekend. Have I told you lately that I love you? You know, this is our first weekend of fall, which is always such a great time with so many things going on. And the first big event coming up happens this week it's the international leaders coming from all over the world, coming to Saddleback for a three-day Made for Mission conference. We're gonna be training them in the Peace Plan, both local and global, and helping them help others discover their life mission. So I wanna ask you to pray for me this weekend as I'm preparing actually seven new messages, six at the conference and one other that I have to teach in the next four days. Seven different messages. And if you can attend, it's still not too late to sign up. But seating is limited, so come and join us at the Made for Mission conference.
Now, this weekend, we are concluding our series called Talking to Kids About Stuff That Matters. And I created this series in response to the answers that you gave me from a survey we took in the summer. And I asked you what issues you felt parents and kids needed to talk about the most, and you gave me about a dozen really good subjects and themes. But this series is only supposed to last six weeks, so I took the top six in order, and we're gonna have to come back in part two of this series some time next year. Now this weekend, I want us to look at what God says about when you're harassed or bullied, when you're harassed or bullied. And I'd like you to raise your hand right now if you can remember a time in your life, either as a child or as a teenager, as an adult, when you felt bullied or harassed. Can I see your hands, okay?
Now, I can't see you, obviously, but I figured that. I figured that almost everybody I know has felt being harassed or bullied, either at school or in the neighborhood or in the office or in the sports field, or unfortunately, even at home sometimes. What does God have to say about bullying and harassment? That's what we're going to look at today. Well, because everything on earth is broken by sin, including relationships, God tells us not to be surprised when people are mean or pushy or angry or controlling or manipulative. In fact, Jesus warned us to expect opposition and harassment in life. In John 16 verse 33, I love this in The Message translation. Jesus says, I've told you all this so that in trusting Me, you will be unshakable and at peace. In this godless world you will experience difficulties. But take heart! I have conquered the world. He said you're going to have trouble. You're gonna experience difficulties. You're gonna have harassment in your life. But take heart, I've conquered the world.
Now God also warns us that as time goes on throughout history, he said things would get worse, not better, that people would actually become more uncivil, more unkind, more rude, more mean. 2 Timothy chapter three says this, verses one to four in the New Living Translation. You should also know that in the last days, there will be very difficult times. For people will love only themselves and their money. That sound familiar? They will be boastful and proud, scoffing at God, disobedient to their parents and ungrateful. They will consider nothing sacred. They will be unloving and unforgiving. They will slander others. And this is years before the internet. They will have no self-control. People will be cruel and have no interest in what is good. They will betray their friends. They will be reckless, be puffed up with pride, and they will love pleasure rather than God.
You know friends, that sounds an awful lot like modern culture, because civilization is losing its civility by the day. We're getting ruder, not more loving in the world. We're getting more unkind, not more kind. So I wanna begin by defining bullying. Here's a definition. Bullying is any unwanted aggressive behavior where a person, or a group, tries to exert power over somebody else. Any unwanted aggressive behavior where a person or group tries to exert power over somebody else. That's bullying. Now, bullying includes a lot of different things, making threats, spreading rumors, attacking physically or verbally, harassing. Excluding somebody from a group on purpose, that's a form of bullying. But bullying now doesn't just happen in person. Today, with texting and social media and being connected to video games, cyberbullies and cyberbullying take place everywhere. You know, in previous generations, kids could actually escape bullies by leaving the playground. But today, the bullies can reach you through your phone or you iPad or your tablets or your video games. Literally, bullies are available to get in your face 24 hours a day because of technology.
Now, people get harassed and bullied for all kinds of reasons. You can get bullied for your appearance. People just don't think you look right. You can be bullied for your abilities or your disabilities. You can be bullied for your accent. Somebody doesn't like the way you talk. You can be bullied for your race, for being poor or rich. You can be bullied for your gender. And you can be, of course, bullied for your faith. You can be bullied for being a Christian. Now, that last category, being bullied or harassed for being a follower of Jesus, that's been around for about 2,000 years. But it has been on a rapid increase in just the last decade. You know, according to a 2019 World Watch List, there's still 150 countries in the world where Christians are severely persecuted for their faith, 150.
Let me give you the most recent statistics. 245 million Christians live in the 50 worst persecuting countries. That means any of those 245 million Christians can face the threat of discrimination, interrogation, arrest, prison, refugee camps, torture, even death. That's a quarter of a billion people, just for being a Christian in those countries. One in nine Christians worldwide experiences severe persecution. In fact, this past year, 4,136 Christians were killed simply for being Christians. That's about 11 Christians a day.
Now I'm not talking about wars. I'm saying just killed for being a Christian. 2,625 Christians were detained without trial, arrested, sentenced, and imprisoned in those 50 worst countries, along with who knows how many tens of thousands of others. We know that in North Korea, it's estimated that there are about 70,000 Christians languishing in prison in North Korea alone. Last year, 1,266 more churches were burned or destroyed somewhere around the world out of persecution. Why am I telling you this? Well, because if I were to ask you to name the most persecuted group on the planet today, you would likely name the wrong group. It's Christians. You're likely surprised because it's the most ignored, most overlooked, and most underreported news in the world. There's a society called the International Society for Human Rights. It's not a Christian organization. It's a secular organization. And I read this this week in their report. Quote, 80% of all religious freedom violations in the world are directed against Christians.
Now, of course that's just one kind of harassment. But it is real and it is painful. And Jesus said this in John 15 verses 19 and 20. The world would love you if you belonged to it, but you don't. I chose you to come out of the world, and so it hates you. Remember, a servant is not greater than the master. And since they persecuted Me, Jesus says, naturally they will persecute you, too. Remember, the world crucified Jesus. He was perfect. He had never sinned. He had not harmed anybody. But the world crucified him. They would today, too. And the fact is, evil people don't like to attack Christ directly, so they often attack those who follow him. Now you may be thinking, but Rick, the people that I'm dealing with who are bullying me or harassing me at work or at school, they don't even know I'm a Christian.
Well, that may be true. They may not know that you're a Christian at work or at school. But Satan knows. Satan knows that you're a Christian. Satan knows you love God. Satan knows you're a child of God. So he has targeted you. And honestly, he doesn't care why or what reason people have to harass you, whether it's your race or your age or your gender or whatever. He just wants to make you miserable because you're a child of God. You're the enemy. And he has lost you, so he wants to hurt you. How does God want me to respond to the bullies and the cyberbullies and the harassers at school or at work at in society or online? Well, let me give you some scriptures and some points from God's Word this weekend, okay? Why don't you write these down. I'm gonna give you seven ways to deal with bullying and harassment in your life.
Number one, here's the first one. It's very important. Recognize the source behind the bully. Recognize the source behind the bully. The bully is not your real problem. The real problem is the source behind the bully, and the real source is a force. It's a spiritual force, it's called evil. The bully is just being used by Satan. All evil, all meanness, all hatred comes from Satan. Now, the people who are being hateful and who are being mean, they don't even recognize that they're just a pawn, that they're just a tool in the hand of Satan, 'cause they're spiritually blinded. But the Bible says this in Ephesians chapter six verse 12. We are not fighting against human beings, but against wicked spiritual forces. Did you hear that? The bully is not your real problem. The bully is being used.
We're not fighting against human beings. We're fighting against spiritual wicked forces. Satan can use anybody any way, if they don't know the Lord, 'cause they don't have God's spirit in them. Now, Satan wants to hurt God, but he can't. So he does the next best thing. You know what he does? He goes after God's children. The best way to hurt a parent is to hurt his child. And the child of God is the enemy of Satan. This is why prayer is such an important part of dealing with harassment in school or work or dealing with a bully at school or work. Because we're not dealing with just human beings here. There's a spiritual force behind it all. You may not have the power to stop that bully. But God does. And so first, recognize the source or the force behind the bully.
Number two, this is a second key antidote to dealing with harassment. Remember who you are. Remember who you are. What is your identity? You are a son or daughter of the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. You are a part of God's family. You were created in the image of God. And God loves you. And God made you for a purpose. And he has a plan for your life. You need to remember who you are. You're a child of God. Why is that important? Because bullies can smell weakness and insecurity and low self-esteem a mile away. That's who they try to attack. Bullies don't ever go after confident or courageous or self-assured people. No, they look for someone they think is feeling down or unaccepted or weak or unsure. They want to pick off people when they're in their most vulnerable moments. That's why I started this series, talking about your identity in Christ. I said if you don't settle this issue, you'll be pressured by peer pressure at school or work. You'll be pressure by bullies at school or work. You'll be conformed to the world at school or work or anywhere else. You have to know your identity.
Now, you're not what other people say you are. They don't know. You're not even what you think you are. You are whom God says you are. You see, because God always speaks the truth. And it is the truth that sets us free. And it is the truth that gives us confidence. And it is the truth that makes us bold and courageous. So if you haven't listened to that message, it's called don't let anybody steal your identity on who you are in Christ. Go back to the beginning of this series and listen to it all over and over and over until you settle the issue of your identity and who you are in Jesus Christ. You're gonna be easy pickings until you do, know that for sure. God is your creator. Jesus died for you. The Holy Spirit lives in you. You have the Trinity behind you. What are you worried about from some measly little bully or harasser at school or at work or even in the neighborhood?
1 John 4:4 says this. You, dear children, are from God and you have overcome the world. Why? Because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world. Yeah, Satan's trying to take you down. But the one who's in you, greater is he that is in you than he who is in the world. So what I'm saying in remembering your identity, remember what David remembered in Psalm 56 verse three and four. I love this New Living Translation. He says, when I'm afraid, I put my trust in you O God and I praise Your word! That's the Bible, God's Word. I trust in you, God, so why should I be afraid? What can mere mortals do to me? One plus God equals a majority.
If God is on your side, it doesn't matter who's against you. If God is for us, who can be against us? So if you're being harassed or you're being bullied by anybody, I wanna urge you to write down on some little three by five cards some bible verses and some bible promises that will encourage you and strengthen you and learn those and memorize them. And when you're in a situation where you're being bullied, you silently start saying those verses to yourself. Remind yourself of the promises of God. Remind yourself of the truth of God. Remind yourself who God says you are. Doesn't matter what the bully or the harasser says. They may say you're worthless, you're no good, you're, whatever, they're wrong, they're liars. And the Bible says Satan is the father of all lies. So what we're saying here is you gotta first know who the source is. And then second, you've gotta know who you are. Parents, one of your jobs as a teacher to your children, their true identity in Christ so they can withstand bullies and harassment. They don't become people pleasers because they're God pleasers.
Now here's the third key. When you're hit with a bully, when you're hit with a harasser, refuse to retaliate. Refuse to retaliate. Because this messes up the whole situation that God wants to do. In Romans 12 verses 17 up to verse 19, God says this. If someone has done you wrong, never pay back evil with evil. Okay, then you're no better than they are. Instead, try to do what everyone considers to be good. What everybody would say that's the right thing to do. Do everything possible on your part to live in peace with everybody. Oh, that's one of the most difficult verses in the Bible. Do everything possible on your part to live in peace with everybody. Never take revenge, my friends, but instead let God's anger do it. For the scripture says, I will avenge you and I will pay them back, says the Lord.
Now, I want you to notice a couple things about this verse. First, it says as much as it's possible with you, do it, as far possible, get along with everybody. I like that verse because it says as much as possible. There are some people you just can't get along with. No matter what you do, they are unpleasable, they are impossible, they are hard to get along with, they are impossible to get along with. It says as much as it's possible on your side. That's admitting that there's some people in life you just can't get along with. So you gotta walk away. In that case, you just walk away. Well, I know you said, well, they've hurt me. They've bulled me, they've harassed me.
And you say, I wanna show them up. I wanna get even. Well, you know you never get ahead, you're never gonna get ahead of them if you're trying to get even with them. When you commit an offense against somebody, you take the initiative, you commit an offense against somebody, that puts you below them. When you get even with somebody who's hurt you and you hurt them back, that just puts you even. You're no better than they are. But when you forgive them and you walk away, it puts you in the superior position above them and it positions you for all kinds of blessings. You see, bullies wanna hook you in a fight. They do it on cyber, you know, on the internet all the time. The trolls are out trying to hook people, get their attention. They want your attention. What a bully cannot stand is for you to ignore them. What a bully can't stand is for you to walk away, because they are starving for attention.
Now, this is true on the internet with cyberbullies. Don't engage them, because you're just hooking in to what they want. You know, if you think about this, most of you know, you learned this as a kid growing up, that when you were teasing your brother or teasing your sister that once they started reacting to you, you were in control of the situation. As long as they ignored you, as long as they didn't react, you were helpless. You couldn't get them. You couldn't engage them. But the moment you hook them, the moment they start reacting, you're now in control. Have you ever thought about this? That any time you say or even think, you make me so mad, you're admitting that you've given control of your emotions to somebody else. You make me mad. I don't wanna be mad, but you make me mad.
Now, you're making me mad, which means you have the power to control my emotions. Now, you may not say you make me mad, but you're thinking it. Or you may not say, you make me afraid. Sometimes a bully will make you afraid. But if you're thinking it, you are at that point admitting that they have power over your emotions. You don't wanna do that. You don't wanna give any bully or any harasser power over your emotions. I want you to note there in that Romans 12 passage that God gives you a choice. You can either seek revenge yourself, or you can let God avenge you. He says it's your choice. You wanna do it, go ahead, be my guest. Seek revenge yourself. Or, he says, you can hold back, trust God, and let God avenge you. Who do you think can do a better job? Who do you think has more resources at taking a person down a notch or two who's been irritating and arrogant? You've got to just let it go. Refuse to retaliate. What do I do instead? Well, here's the fourth thing.
Number four, when you have a bully in your life, respond positively. Respond positively. This is the faith step. You say, well, Rick, how in the world do I respond positively? Well, let's look at a couple of verses. Romans chapter 12 verse 21 says this. Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. That's how you be positive. You don't overcome evil with more evil. You don't fight darkness with darkness. You fight darkness with light. You fight hatred with love. You fight unkindness with kindness. You don't be overcome by evil, but you overcome evil with good. The next verse even gets a little bit more specific, Matthew chapter five verse 44. It says, love your enemies.
Oh, come on. Love your enemies and pray for them. Really? Pray for those who persecute you? Is that easy? No. Is it unusual? Yes. Is it a choice? Yes, it is your choice. You can choose, why? 'Cause I'm gonna be better than the bully. I'm gonna pray for them. I'm going to show love to them. I'm not gonna be as bad as them. I'm not gonna be equal to them. I'm not gonna return evil for evil or hatred for hatred. Now, I do need to warn you that the more positive you are, the more negative people in this world are gonna dislike you. Jesus was the most positive person who ever lived, and they nailed him to a cross. The more positive you are, the more negative people, it just grates on them that you are positive, you're a person of faith, you're a person of love. How do I do that? How do I return good for evil?
Well, number five, here's the next step. Refocus on what God says. Refocus on what God says this means. What does, the harassment in your life, what does the persecution in your life, what does the bullying in your life, what does this opposition in your life really mean? Well, look at what the Bible says it means. I Peter chapter four verse 14. If you are insulted because of the name of Christ, you are blessed, why? Because it means God's Spirit rests on you. 1 Peter 4:14 says that when I am harassed for being a Christian, it means that God's Spirit can be seen in my life. The Bible says all who live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution. If I don't ever have any harassment or any persecution or any opposition in my life, it means I'm not living godly.
Does anybody even know you're a Christian? If people react to Christ in your life, it means that God's spirit can be seen in you. That's a good thing. God's spirit can be seen in me. Let me tell you another thing it means. Acts 5:41. The apostles were full of joy that God considered them worthy to suffer disgrace for Jesus' name. The second thing the Bible says is when I'm harassed and I'm bullied and I'm put down and I'm opposed, it means God can trust me. Notice the apostles were full of joy that God considered them worthy. He said they can handle this. God will never put more on you than he puts in you to bear it up. He's growing your character. It means that God can trust you. If God can trust you, well, that means you're still a baby, spiritual baby.
2 Corinthians chapter four verse 17 says this. These troubles, you know, the problems we're facing on a day-to-day basis, and the people coming against us, opposition, these troubles won't last very long. Yet this time of distress will result in God's richest blessing upon us. How long? Forever and ever. Here's the third thing it means. It means that not only is God's spirit in me, not only does people see God's spirit in me and that he can trust me, it means that God is going to bless me. So he says there God is going to give you his richest blessings forever and ever because of the trials and the tribulations and the bullying that you stood up to. God is going to bless me. Over and over again in this book, we're taught this simple point. The pain is temporary. It's not gonna last. But the payoff will last forever. So what do you want more of, temporary pain or long-term pleasure? You know, you have to maintain an eternal perspective if you're going to deal with the people who are the crazy makers in life.
And that leads to this next point. If you're gonna have an eternal perspective, the sixth thing you wanna do when you're facing a bully is remember your reward. Remember your eternal reward. One of the most beautiful passages is in the Sermon on the Mount. It's called The Beatitudes. And it gives eight ways to be happy. And in the eighth way, the eighth beatitude, is Matthew chapter five verse 11 and verse 12. And Jesus promises this. He says this. Blessed are you, blessed, circle back. Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
When you respond correctly to the harassers and the bullies and the oppositions in your life, God says you're right up there with Moses and Abraham and Elijah and Elisha and all of the great prophets of the Bible. He said great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets before you. You're in good company. You're in God's hall of fame. You need to teach that to your kids, that when they're being harassed for their faith, because they won't go take drugs, or they won't, you know, go get drunk, or they won't go have sex with somebody, that that is saying great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the godly men and women who were before you.
Romans chapter eight verse 17, look at this verse. Since we are God's children, if we share in Christ's suffering, we will also share in His what, glory. Circle that. Share in His glory. It says, this is an amazing promise, that God says if you share in Christ's suffering. Did Christ suffer abuse on earth? Yes. Harassment on earth, yes. Bullies on earth, yes. Opposition, yes. Criticism, yes. Were there people who tried to take advantage of Jesus, yes. Were there people who plotted against him, yes. And there may be people like that in your school or in your office. But it says, since we are God's children, if we share Christ's suffering, that's the same thing Jesus went through. We will also share in his glory.
Do you realize what that means? You're gonna share in God's glory for eternity. You are going to share in God's glory in heaven for ever and ever and ever because you put up with harassment and bullying and being put down for your faith when you stand tall for integrity and humility and generosity. What does it mean to share God's glory in heaven? Well, I can't even explain it, it's going to be so glorious. But let me just give you an analogy. Imagine a movie marquee, like where they announce new movies that are coming up. And it says in the marquee, now starring for eternity, Jesus Christ. Co-starring for eternity, your name. Can you imagine that? You're gonna share in the glory of God for ever and ever and ever. That'll be worth it. And because of those first six things that I just mentioned to you, when you are having harassment for your faith, or anything else, but Satan's behind it because he's trying to take you down. It may be for your race. It may be for your gender. But he knows you're a Christian.
The final step is this, number seven, remain faithful. Remain faithful. Just keep doing the right thing. You don't need anybody else's approval to be happy. You don't need their opinions. You don't need the clique. You don't need the club. You don't need the popular people. You don't need the bullies. You just keep doing the right thing. You keep persevering and doing what is right. You know, I learned a long time ago, people can laugh at you, but they can't stop you. They have no ability to stop you from believing and acting and doing the right thing. They can laugh at you, but they cannot stop you. I Peter chapter 4:19 says this. So those who suffer according to God's will, by the way, look at that verse there. Some people think that, well, if I'm suffering, I'm sinning. Oh no, no, no. Did you realize that some suffering in life is God's will? Those who suffer according to God's will.
There are some brands of Christianity that think if you're ever sick, you're ever suffering, you must be out of the will of God. Well, that verse right there disproves that point, that the Bible says that sometimes we suffer according to God's will. Some of the times, it's God's will for you to be sick. Sometimes it's God's will for you to suffer. Sometimes it's God's will for you to have problems. Why, because he's more interested in your character than in your comfort. And he's more interested in growing you to be like Christ than he is making life easy. So those who suffer according to God's will, what should we do when the bullies and harassers are out there? We should commit ourselves to their faithful Creator and continue to do good. What does that mean? Be faithful, remain faithful. Commit yourself to your faithful Creator, and you continue to do good and be faithful.
Let me ask you a very personal question. What does it take to stop you from doing the right thing? One person looks kinda sideways. Somebody makes a comment. What does it take you to stop you from living for Christ? You're afraid of a smirk or a smile or a laugh or a giggle? What does it take to stop you from praying in public? Well, what would other people think? Why do you care about what other people think? God is looking for people who cannot be stopped. They cannot be stopped by bullying. They cannot be stopped by harassment. They cannot be stopped by intimidation. They cannot be stopped by putdowns. They cannot be stopped by political correctness. They cannot be stopped by peer pressure.
2 Timothy 3:12 said this. Everyone who wants to live as God desires, in Christ Jesus, will be hurt. If you choose not to go along with the crowd at school or with the crowd at work or with the crowd anywhere else, you can expect to be harassed. You can expect to be ridiculed sometimes. You can expect to be bullied. When a teenager refuses, as I said, to take drugs or to smoke or they make a commitment to wait until marriage for sex, somebody's not gonna like that. You know, this is true with adults, just as much as it is with kids. I know a wealthy businessman who literally had it all. I mean, he even had two maids, full-time maids, and a limousine. And he became a Christian. And when he became a Christian, started following Jesus, all his values changed. And one day, he was asked by the board of his organization, of his business, to do something unethical at work. And as a Christian, he refused.
You know what happened? He was fired and he was left unemployed. And he couldn't find a job. And he lost so much that he even had to move in with his friend. And it was actually, I followed this story, it was actually a two-year test of faith before things finally turned around. What do you think's going on in that guy's mind for those two years? Because I'm trying to do the right thing and all of a sudden I lose everything. I lose all of the physical attributes and accoutrements of wealth. And it was a two-year test of faith before actually anything turned around. Yet he refused to compromise his integrity. He refused to back down on his witness. And he would not give in to pressure. I asked him, "How in the world did you do that? How did you hold on going from a limo and two maids to having to live with a friend? How did you hold on during those two years in that test"? And he said, "Rick, I did it by clinging to God's promise in Matthew 19:29".
I went and looked it up. Matthew 19:29 says this. Jesus says, anyone who has given up houses or lost brothers and sisters or fathers or mothers or children, in other words, even family members turn on you, or you've lost property, he said if you've lost anything for My sake, you will receive back, notice this, a hundred times as much in return and you will have eternal life. That is a quote of Jesus Christ. Do you believe Jesus Christ, 100 times as much return on your investment? He says whatever you give up for Christ, you will be rewarded 100 times over, plus eternal life? Do you believe that? If you don't believe that, then you can't believe that Jesus will save you, 'cause he's the same one.
When you consider the results of being faithful to Christ in the midst of persecution, in the midst of harassment, in the midst of being put down, in the midst of bullying, when you consider the results, is the harassment worth it? It's not even a question. Of course it is, of course it is. I remember reading a quote a long time ago from President Woodrow Wilson, the US president. And he said this. "I'd rather temporarily lose with a cause that will ultimately succeed than temporarily succeed with a cause that will ultimately fail". People say, well, you're on the wrong side of history in this issue. It doesn't matter what history says. What does it matter to be on the right side of history? What matters is being on the right side. I'd rather temporarily lose for a cause that will ultimately succeed than temporarily succeed with a cause that will ultimately fail.
Now let me wrap this up. Let me close with some personal questions. If it became illegal, for instance, in the United States, and a crime to follow Jesus here, or in your country, in Germany or in Buenos Aires in Argentina, or China or in the Philippines or anywhere else, if it became illegal and a crime to follow Jesus in your country, would there be enough evidence to convict you? Let me give you another question. When people say insulting things about other Christians, do you wimp out and say nothing and you don't speak up? You're what I call a Arctic River Christian, frozen at the mouth? When people say insulting things about Christians, do you wimp out and say nothing? Do you ever stand up for a brother and sister? Let me phrase it this way. What is your faith costing you?
Well, in much of the world, it's literally costing believers their lives. We have it so easy. We don't have persecution. We might have harassment. We might have political correctness. But we don't have persecution. You're not in danger of being arrested and thrown in jail. What is your faith costing you? And at what cost would you stay faithful to Christ? You see, you're not really ready to live until you have decided what's worth dying for. Jesus said there's a price to be paid for following him. Nowhere in scripture does Jesus say that popularity on earth is guaranteed. No, popularity on earth is not guaranteed. He said people are not gonna like you for doing the right thing. But reward in heaven is guaranteed. And it's gonna go on and on forever.
Jim Elliott once said, "He is no fool who gives up what he cannot keep for that which he cannot lose". So let me end with just two statements of Jesus. Mark chapter eight verse 38, Jesus says this. If you're ashamed of Me and my commands in this godless and sinful generation I will be ashamed of you when I come back in glory with the holy angels. That is a frightening statement. It's sobering. And Matthew 10 verse 32. But for those who declare publicly that they belong to Me, I will do the same for them before My Father in heaven. I want that true of you. I want it true of me. God is looking for men and women of courage, men and women of courage who aren't afraid to publicly identify themselves at school, on the campus, on the soccer field, in the office, in the workspace, in the marketplace, who aren't afraid to publicly identify themselves as follower of Jesus.
So let me encourage you to take a risk for Jesus this week. Have a the courage to let people know where you stand. Don't be bullied anymore. Be courageous. What risk will you take this week to identify yourself as a follower of Jesus Christ? Maybe you need to start praying before your meals in public in restaurants. That's a statement. Nobody's gonna throw you out of their restaurant for that. They might in some countries, but not here. Take your Bible to work with you. Put it on your desk. I dare you to do that. Make a public stand. If you haven't been baptized, that's the first stand you need to take, your public statement of coming out saying, I'm not ashamed to say I love Jesus Christ. And then let me encourage you to do this. Text a non-believer this week, somebody who doesn't know Jesus. Text them and just say, Friend, I'm praying for you. That's all you need to say. Who's gonna be upset about that? I'm praying for you. Text a non-believer I'm praying for you this week. Let me pray for you.
Dear Jesus, we've gone through a lot of major issues in this series, and this is another big one. And I pray that today that people will take these seven steps and begin to build the courage and the backbone and the integrity to be willing to stand up in a world that is increasingly getting darker and darker in culture. Help us to be people of kindness in an unkind world, people of love in an unloving world, people of integrity in a world that practices dishonesty and deceit and deception in every area, and help us to stand firm and speak the truth in love, knowing that great is our reward in heaven. Thank you that you promised that blessed are you and men will revile you and persecute you and say all manner of evil against you falsely for my sake. You told us rejoice and be exceeding glad great is your reward in heaven. We look forward to that reward. I pray for every student, every grade school student, every teenage, junior high and high school student, every college student who have been bullied or harassed for whatever reason, that they will stand firm and realize that you realize that you can trust them, that God's spirit can be seen in them, and that it's only temporary, but that rewards will last forever.
Now you pray.
Lord, I don't wanna be a weak follower of you. I wanna be a strong woman of God. I wanna be a strong man of God. I don't wanna wimp out. I don't want to let society or bullies or anybody else determine what I believe or how I act or how I feel. I wanna be a God pleaser, not a person pleaser.
If you've never invited Jesus Christ in your life, say:
Jesus Christ, put your spirit inside me. I need your strength. I can't do this on your own. I open my life to you. And I humbly ask you to accept me into your family by your grace. I know I need you. And I pray this in your name. Amen.