What Did You Expect The Outcome of Living For God Would Be?
Be-Attitudes Part 8
By: Rev. Joe Kramer
(10) Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. (11) “Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake. (12) 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 (NKJV)
These three verses deal with persecution so I have added them together. Jesus devoted quite a bit here about persecution, which clues us in that it is important. It is not “if” it happens, but when it happens. If we live the beatitudes up to this point then the natural outcome is going to be persecution. Why? Because living this way is radically different from the way the world lives and it brings conviction onto those who are not living this way; it stirs the conscious within people. In order to soothe their conscience some people are willing to go to great measures to get rid of the source that is convicting them (i.e. the Christian).
In verse ten the Christian finds out that though they may have to endure persecution (Historically persecution to the point of death.) their reward, as it were, is the kingdom of heaven; which is all the blessings that come once a Christian leaves this life and moves on to the next one.
Verse eleven introduces something new to the concept. It states that the people of the world will revile you. This word is sometimes lost in today’s society. Other translations translate the origin word as insult rather than revile. We will be insulted by people of this world for our beliefs and our lives. The key here, however, is at the end of verse eleven it says that they will do these things falsely. So if you do something that is not in keeping with being a Christians then you are not bringing glory to God and are not persecuted for righteousness sake; no you are being insulted and persecuted justly. How could God honor you when you do something wrong and are persecuted justly? I know people don’t want to hear that, they just want the “bless me” teaching, but it is the truth.
Now Jesus, in verse twelve, addresses our response to persecution. He states that we should have an attitude of rejoicing and gladness (Tell me that doesn’t fly in the face of the world and your natural self!). He says to remember that our reward for following the laws that God has written upon on our hearts is great in heaven. Jesus also reminds us that those who came before us have endured such persecution for living their life before a Holy God. We should draw strength from the prophets of Old and remember what happened in their lives so that we can “keep on, keeping on.”
How are you today? Are you being persecuted? If not, then maybe it is because you aren’t a Christian, or one that doesn’t really live out what God asks of you. Trust me if you aren’t being persecuted for your beliefs and your life then something isn’t quite right. You need to get down on your knees and ask God to reveal to you where you are and where you should be. Will you get on track with God? The choice is yours.