“Blessed are those who have been persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me. “Rejoice and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great; for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you” (Matthew 5:10-12).
No one was more loving and compassionate than Jesus. No person was more careful about the words he said than Jesus. You will never find a human being who sacrificed more of himself for the good of others, including his enemies, than Jesus.
If there was any person that could preach, talk, and live in a way that should have not offended anyone, it was Jesus. But as I heard in a sermon recently by Kevin Clark, “Not even Jesus could pull that off!” In fact, Jesus said, “Woe to you when all men speak well of you, for their fathers used to treat the false prophets in the same way” (Luke 6:26). They slaughtered Jesus, the most pure and loving person in history.
We will suffer persecution.
Indeed, all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted (2 Timothy 3:12). If people spoke against Jesus, then those around you will speak against you when you follow Jesus (John 15:18-19). I may want a pain-free walk with Jesus, but Jesus calls me to deny myself, take up my cross and follow Him.
Persecution comes in various forms.
- The liberal, godless media will make fun of your values.
- Professors, fellow students and teammates will mock you publicly because you believe in God and His word.
- Politicians and elected officials may mock the very morals and beliefs you hold dear, and they do so to thunderous applause.
- Your spouse may decide to turn against you because of your convictions.
- Close friends may abandon you because you desired to live for Jesus.
- Your boss may fire you.
- Your co-workers may deliberately do things to make you look bad in front of the boss.
- Sometimes even Christians, who are holding hands with the world, will tease you and put down your beliefs. They do this for self-justification to assuage their own guilt.
Jesus says to “rejoice” because we are “blessed!”
We have God’s favor; God is smiling upon us. We are blessed for several reasons:
- “Yours is the kingdom of heaven.” We are citizens, sons and heirs of His kingdom now! He will never leave us nor forsake us (Hebrews 13:5-6)!
- For so persecuted the prophets before you…” We also are blessed because we are in great company…the prophets of old (Elijah, Moses, Isaiah and Jeremiah). That’s pretty good company!
- “Great is your reward in heaven.” One day we all will be in heaven with God, and this temporary suffering will be swallowed up in God’s eternal glory.
For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us (Romans 8:18).