Matthew 5:10-12 (NIV)
Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. “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.
Matthew 5:10-12 (MSG)
“You’re blessed when your commitment to God provokes persecution. The persecution drives you even deeper into God’s kingdom. “Not only that—count yourselves blessed every time people put you down or throw you out or speak lies about you to discredit me. What it means is that the truth is too close for comfort and they are uncomfortable. You can be glad when that happens—give a cheer, even!—for though they don’t like it, I do! And all heaven applauds. And know that you are in good company. My prophets and witnesses have always gotten into this kind of trouble.
“Blessed [comforted by inner peace and God’s love] are those who are persecuted for doing that which is morally right, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven [both now and forever]. “Blessed [morally courageous and spiritually alive with life-joy in God’s goodness] are you when people insult you and persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil things against you because of [your association with] Me. Be glad and exceedingly joyful, for your reward in heaven is great [absolutely inexhaustible]; for in this same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.” -AMPLIFIED
Persecution is the act of harassing, ill-treatment, oppressive behavior and even death because of ones beliefs. Here in the book of Matthew we find Jesus saying to the crowds, blessed or happy are those who are persecuted for doing what is right. I am sure we are all asking ourselves, how could anyone be happy in being persecuted? Yet, in the face of persecution one finds oneself driven closer to the Almighty, deeper into God’s Kingdom.
Kingdom living will involve persecution, Jesus said as much. We have not experienced a whole lot of it in America, but times are changing. This country was birthed with the idea that every man should be able to worship God as he or she saw fit, but that freedom is slowly being taken away from each us. Belief in God is being taken out of the equation, out of our schools, government and even our homes. Where will we, as the children of God, stand in the midst of these changes?
The Apostle Peter reminds us that we should not be surprised when fiery trials come our way, for they are a testing of our faith. “Friends, when life gets really difficult, don’t jump to the conclusion that God isn’t on the job. Instead, be glad that you are in the very thick of what Christ experienced. This is a spiritual refining process, with glory just around the corner.” 1 Peter 4:12-13 (MSG)
Verse 13 in the NIV actually tells us that we should, “…rejoice inasmuch as you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed.” Rejoice in suffering; exactly what Jesus has told us to do. “Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven…”
How can we rejoice in the midst of persecution? We can do so by focusing on what is truly lasting, our reward in Heaven. This World is quickly passing away, but those who have accepted Jesus Christ as Lord will live forever! “The world and its desires pass away, but whoever does the will of God lives forever.” -1 John 2:17 (NIV)
We may face difficult persecution, but Jesus faced them also; even unto death. Remember, this world is not our home, we are just pilgrims passing through. Keep your eyes on the Savior, rejoice in being able to participate in His sufferings and be glad that you have an eternal home waiting where there will be no more tears, sorrow, or pain. Even so come quickly Lord Jesus!
Lord, help me to be strong in the face of persecution. Help me to pray for those who face it on a daily basis. I know that difficult times are to be expected, for I do not belong to this World; you have called me out. Allow your Holy Spirit to remind me to rejoice and be glad in every situation, for great is my reward in Heaven. I will keep forward and up; for my redemption draws near!