When my daughter Ariel was in third grade, one of her classmates teased her a lot. I encouraged her to say, “God bless you” whenever she would say something demeaning. This worked for awhile, until the girl said, “my mom says that means you’re telling me to go to hell.” Ariel was concerned, and we were at a crossroad.

I told Ariel about an old, corny way of dealing this. If someone calls you a jerk, respond by saying. “a jerk is a tug, a tug is a boat, a boat floats on water, water is nature, and nature is beautiful. So, thanks for the compliment.”

Ariel was encouraged by this. She liked it even better than saying “God bless you.” She took it too far. Instead of responding to the girl, she began saying to her and other kids at school, “call me a jerk.”

Jesus said, “rejoice when people call you a jerk.” Ok, he didn’t say that exactly. Here’s what he said: “God blesses you when people mock you and persecute you and lie about you and say all sorts of evil things against you because you are my followers. Be happy about it! Be very glad! For a great reward awaits you in heaven. And remember, the ancient prophets were persecuted in the same way.” Matthew 5:11-12 NLT

Notice a few things here. Jesus has pointed out in this passage, (called the Sermon on the Mount), that there is a blessing in being persecuted. At several points in Matthew 5 and 6, Jesus addresses the opposite culture of being a follower of Christ.

  • God blesses the poor
  • God blesses the mournful
  • God blesses the humble

and the Lord goes on to describe what it really means to be blessed as a follower. Being mocked – indicated both public and private occasions, being persecuted, lied on, and a general “all sorts of evil things” said against you. The authorized text adds in the word “falsely.” Its implied in the modern translation, but still – the key is that we are blessed only when what is being slanderously said is not true.

Peter refers to this in his letters: “If you are insulted because you bear the name of Christ, you will be blessed… If you suffer, however, it must not be for murder, stealing, making trouble, or prying into other people’s affairs.” I Peter 4:14-15 NLT

In other words, if someone is calling you a jerk, because you are in fact, a jerk – there’s no blessing in that. Good news. We can repent of our jerkiness.

I’m concerned that too often, Christ followers cloak our sin in robes of righteousness. I’m not talking about atonement, I’m talking about acting in a way that dishonors the name of Jesus, and when confronted, chalking it up as being persecuted.

Several years ago, a well known minister on television broke the law, and ended up going to prison. The cry wasn’t, (at least at first), “have mercy on me God.” It was, “we’re being persecuted.”

He should have been saying, “call me a jerk.”

I was at a meeting of a well known evangelist. A minister friend had invited me to sit on the platform with him. While the music was playing, the minister turned to the musicians and screamed at them, and demeaned them in front of everyone. His mic was hot. He knew others heard, and so… he blamed his anger on the anointing!

He should have been saying, “call me a jerk.”

A few years back, I was speaking with a colleague, and I used some off handed remarks about his education and background. I was being facetious, but it clearly offended him. Big time. Thankfully, he was mature enough to confront me.

I had no explanation.

I said, “I’m an idiot.” I apologized. He forgave me.

He could have been saying, “you’re a jerk.” And I dare not saying… “a jerk is a tug..”

If you find yourself saying and doing things that offend others, or bring reproach upon the name of Jesus, STOP. Change your mind, (repent), and make a commitment to take control of that area of your life.

Peter was very familiar with what he wrote about in his letter. He was a classic jerk! He denounced Jesus three times, and with cursing. His mouth was used by satan to tell Jesus what to do. Even after Jesus rose from the dead, he had given up on following Jesus, “I’m going fishing.”

Peter knew he was a jerk, and Jesus knew it too. Jesus put a new speech in his mouth. Peter ended up suffering for the name of Christ, and as tradition holds, was crucified upside down.

We have an opportunity to be blessed when we are genuinely persecuted, or we can choose to be selfish jerks and blame our behavior on God.

Let’s choose to be called a jerk; not actually be one.