Wealth of the Wicked, Suffering of the Saints
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Matthew 13: 24 Jesus told them another parable: "The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field. 25 But while everyone was sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat, and went away. 26 When the wheat sprouted and formed ears, then the weeds also appeared. 27 "The owner’s servants came to him and said, ‘Sir, didn’t you sow good seed in your field? Where then did the weeds come from?’ 28 "‘An enemy did this,’ he replied. "The servants asked him, ‘Do you want us to go and pull them up?’ 29 "‘No,’ he answered, ‘because while you are pulling the weeds, you may root up the wheat with them. 30 Let both grow together until the harvest. At that time I will tell the harvesters: First collect the weeds and tie them in bundles to be burned; then gather the wheat and bring it into my barn.’"
I. God promises to punish the wicked and to bless the saints
Deutoronomy 28. Blessings for obedience (verses 3-13) 1 If you fully obey the LORD your God …. 2 All these blessings will come upon you …3You will be blessed in the city and blessed in the country. 4 The fruit of your womb will be blessed … 12 The LORD will open the heavens…Curses for disobedience: (verses 16-68). 15 However, if you do not obey the LORD your God …16 You will be cursed in the city and cursed in the country. 61 The LORD will also bring on you every kind of sickness and disaster not recorded in this Book of the Law, until you are destroyed. Proverbs 11:8The righteous man is rescued from trouble, and it comes on the wicked instead. 12: 21 No harm befalls the righteous, but the wicked have their fill of trouble. Psalm 145: 19 He fulfils the desires of those who fear him; he hears their cry and saves them. 20 The LORD watches over all who love him, but all the wicked he will destroy.
II. But sometimes, we see the opposite happening
Ecclesiastes: 7: 15 In this meaningless life of mine I have seen both of these: a righteous man perishing in his righteousness, and a wicked man living long in his wickedness. 8: 14 There is something else meaningless that occurs on earth: righteous men who get what the wicked deserve, and wicked men who get what the righteous deserve. Psalm 73. 3 … when I saw the prosperity of the wicked. 4 They have no struggles; their bodies are healthy and strong. Job 21: 7 Why do the wicked live on, growing old and increasing in power? 8 They see their children established around them, their offspring before their eyes. 14 Yet they say to God, ‘Leave us alone! We have no desire to know your ways.
III. The reasons and causes of suffering
a. Due to our disobedience, sin was brought into the world. Suffering is a direct consequence.
Genesis 3: 3 but God did say, ‘You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.’" 4 "You will not surely die," the serpent said to the woman. 5 "For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil."
b. If we do something wrong ourselves, we may get disciplined.
Hebrews 12:7 Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as sons. For what son is not disciplined by his father? 8 If you are not disciplined (and everyone undergoes discipline), then you are illegitimate children and not true sons. 11 No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful.
c. If we decide to really follow God, he will prune us. Pruning hurts.
John 15: 1 "I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. 2 He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful.
IV. The purpose and result of suffering: Maturation and rewards
a. As Christians, we can have joy in suffering because we mature and get closer to God.
Romans 5: 3 Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; 4 perseverance, character; and character, hope. 5 And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us. James 1: 2 Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3 because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. 4 Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.
b. If we suffer for Christ, we can expect to be rewarded for it.
Mark 10: 29 "I tell you the truth," Jesus replied, "no-one who has left home or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields for me and the gospel 30 will fail to receive a hundred times as much in this present age (homes, brothers, sisters, mothers, children and fields—and with them, persecutions) and in the age to come, eternal life. Romans 8: 18 I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. Matthew 5: 10 Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 11 "Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. 12 Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
Questions for Reflection/Discussion/Response:
1. When did you experience the worst suffering of your life? What was the cause of it? And what was the result?
2. Do you get jealous when you see a very ungodly person who is very wealthy/healthy/happy?
3. Why does a good God allow so much suffering in the world? Could he not just remove it since he is almighty?
4. Is it really possible to have joy in suffering? Can we still have joy in extreme suffering?
5. How would you help someone who is going through a very difficult time through no fault of his/her own?