“Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake. Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”
– Matthew 5:10-12
Persecution comes in various shapes, forms, and degrees. It comes for various reasons as well. As Christians, we can expect persecution. Jesus teaches us as much in this beatitude, as well as in John 15:18-20. We aren’t to be surprised or shocked that the world hates us and comes against us (1 John 3:13). We know we should count it joy as we endure trials, as God uses them to produce and build patience in us (James 1:1).
Further, in this beatitude, our Lord reminds us that we are blessed by Him as we endure persecution for righteousness’ sake. This particular reason for the persecution is key to understand. The Apostle Peter teaches us much in his first epistle about suffering for the name and sake of Christ. He also teaches us the difference in suffering for doing good vs. suffering for doing evil. Peter’s teaching is so rich! Let’s consider a few of those passages. Notice how Peter emphasizes and repeats Christ’s teaching in this beatitude in his instruction in Chapter 3 of his epistle.
1) 1 Peter 3:14 “But even if you should suffer for righteousness’ sake, you are blessed. “And do not be afraid of their threats, nor be troubled.”
2) 1 Peter 3:16-17 “having a good conscience, that when they defame you as evildoers, those who revile your good conduct in Christ may be ashamed. For it is better, if it is the will of God, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil.”
3) 1 Peter 4:12-16 “Beloved, do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you; but rejoice to the extent that you partake of Christ’s sufferings, that when His glory is revealed, you may also be glad with exceeding joy. If you are reproached for the name of Christ, blessed are you, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you. On their part He is blasphemed, but on your part He is glorified. But let none of you suffer as a murderer, a thief, an evildoer, or as a busybody in other people’s matters. Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in this matter.”
May Jesus’ and Peter’s words be of great comfort and courage building in your perseverance today and the days ahead! Take their words to heart, knowing they are of comfort but also instructive to us to be committed in our obedience to Christ. For we must see that we have no leg to stand on if we suffer for doing evil. Yet, we are truly blessed if we are persecuted for standing for, walking with, and following Jesus and His Word.
As Jesus said in Matthew 5:11, we are blessed if they say all kinds of evil against us falsely for His sake, knowing His promise in verse 12- for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Those who are united to Christ, and therefore heirs with Christ are willing to suffer for Christ. What a matter for joy and gladness! Great is our reward in heaven! Plus, it’s wonderful to know that we aren’t alone in this struggle and battle. We’re in great company among His persecuted church.
Looking through this lens at suffering and persecution is needed and helpful! I pray it helps you today. Suffer well, unashamed, for righteousness’ sake, Beloved, glorifying God all the way, every day.