The Beatitudes - Part Four

We will conclude our look at The Beatitudes:

Blessed are those who have been persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Mat. 5:10, NASU

Persecution is something that no person wants. Being reviled or harmed is not something one would take pleasure in – and God does not expect His followers to do so. The form of persecution is not focused upon here (it is later), but instead the purpose of persecution. It is important that the Christian is persecuted for “the sake of righteousness.” When one chooses to stand up for Christ, to proclaim His name proudly, and to not be intimidated by those who enemies of Christ he or she will face persecution. These people do not seek out persecution, but endure it patiently if it comes their way. They do not return evil for evil, but instead good (cf. Rom. 12:17ff). They do not allow any force (either physical or spiritual) to dissuade their trust in God through Christ (cf. Rom. 8:38, 39). They do so because they trust in a promise – a promise to be rewarded. Those who suffer for the sake of righteousness are promised the greatest rewards by God.

Blessed are you when people insult you or persecute you, and falsely say all evil against you because of Me. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great; for the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
Mat. 5:11, 12

This section is connected with the previous thought concerning the topic of persecution. Whereas the former thought focused upon the purpose of persecution, here Jesus discusses its form. Jesus uses three different examples to describe different forms of persecution. First, an “insult” is a verbal attack – words of derision concerning your beliefs or lifestyle. This is probably the most common form of persecution today. Second, “persecution” describes a physical attack – abuse, beatings, whippings, stonings, even execution because of belief in Christ. This form of persecution still exists today. Third, “falsely” saying “evil” describes an attack upon one’s character – impugning one’s reputation with others in the world. Each of these attacks are painful, but should not be unexpected.

The prophets of old (from “Abel to Zechariah” (Mat. 23:34, 35)) were persecuted – why should we believe ourselves to be any different? Those who serve God have always angered the world, but God has always been faithful to reward those who trust in Him. The same is true for those who faithfully serve today. God is just and will reward His own (Heb. 6:10). The choice is ours whether we will endure for Him.

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