“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled. Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy. Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God. Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God. Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Everyone who lives righteously for God has been persecuted at some point in their life for Christ’s sake. Ever since the beginning of time, it’s been that way. Abel gave the offering that was pleasing to the Lord. Cain didn’t and he killed his brother because he felt guilty. That’s the first example of persecution because of righteousness. From there starts a long line of people who’ve been persecuted and blessed because of Christ.
The beatitudes are statements that Jesus made about the blessings people would receive if they had certain characteristics. These are not characteristics that one can work and learn on your own. It only happens with the work of the Holy Spirit in a person. This beatitude is probably the hardest to understand and to live out. God is going to draw the line between the righteous and the unrighteous. Verses 11 and 12 expand a little on this.
“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.I know that I’ve had people insult me and falsely say evil of me because of my faith in Christ. Whether it was in a joking form or in all seriousness, it still hurts when a person puts you down because you live for Christ. These verses, though, say to “rejoice and be glad”. I honestly have never rejoiced when someone has put me down. It’s difficult. These verses are an encouragement. It says that our rewards in heaven are great. Heaven belongs to us when we are persecuted for His name’s sake. God is going to bless us because of every trial we go through for His sake.
There are some kinds of persecutions, though, that aren’t the kinds that Jesus is talking about though. If a person is walking through a shopping mall demanding that people tell him if they’re saved or not, he’s most likely going to be ridiculed. God is not going to bless that because that person is being obnoxious and dishonoring the name of Christ. He’s not being a true representative of Christ. Some people make themselves “extra holy” so as to be persecuted and then rece3ive the blessing. There are also the people who have suffered for a cause rather than righteousness. There are people such as the Jehovah’s Witness who make a big deal about how much they’ve suffered. Al this was for a cause, though. None of these people are going to receive the blessing because they weren’t suffering for what Jesus was talking about.
True righteousness is becoming like Jesus in character. When we are persecuted “On account of Me” (v.11), it is because we are becoming more like Him. John 15:18-21 says:
“If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you. Remember what I told you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also. If they obeyed my teaching, they will obey yours also. They will treat you this way because of my name, for they do not know the one who sent me.
The more we are like Jesus, the more people will dislike us because so many people of this world dislike Him. We do not belong to this world, thus people hate us. Paul told Timothy in 2 Timothy 3:12 that:
“Everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.”It doesn’t’ mean that we’ll constantly have person insults, physical abuse or slander in our faces, but it does mean that it’ll come at one point or another. What should be encouraging to us is that no matter in what way we are put down or insulted we are bringing glory to God’s name. He says to rejoice in Him during those trials for ours will be the kingdom of Heaven.
Do you have any stories of how you were persecuted in some form and how you responded to it?
Do you have any ideas how to learn to rejoice in those trials?
I'd love to hear your thoughts!