Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Matthew 5:10 (ESV)
Barnes writes, “To persecute, means literally to pursue, follow after, as one does a flying enemy. Here it means to vex, or oppress one, on account of his religion. They persecute others who injure their names, reputation, property, or endanger or take their life, on account of their religious opinions.”
We should not consider it a strange thing to be persecuted for Christ’s sake. The world is at enmity with God; it hates God. And because the world hates God it will hate us if we live godly lives. Jesus told his disciple that the world would hate them because the world hated him first and because he had chosen them out of the world (John 15:18-19). He promised that we would be hated for his sake (Matthew 10:22; 24:9). Jesus said, Remember the word that I said to you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you. If they kept my word, they will also keep yours. (John 15:20 ESV) And to Timothy Paul wrote, Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted. (2 Timothy 3:12 ESV) To the Philippians Paul wrote, For it has been granted to you that for the sake of Christ you should not only believe in him but also suffer for his sake. (Philippians 1:29 ESV)
Barnes goes on to say: “We are not to seek persecution. We are not to provoke it by strange sentiments or conduct, or by violating the laws of civil society, or by modes of speech that are unnecessarily offensive to others. But if, in the honest effort to be Christians, and to live the life of Christians, others persecute and revile us, we are to consider this as a blessing. It is all evidence that we are the children of God, and that he will defend us.”
When we are persecuted we are to bless our persecutors (Romans 12:14). We are to love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us so that we will be sons of our Father in heaven (Matthew 5:44-45). Peter wrote of Jesus, When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly. (1 Peter 2:23 ESV)
Those who are persecuted for Christ’s sake are not only be blessed with all the benefits of the kingdom of heaven, including heaven itself, but will receive a reward in heaven. Jesus said, Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you. (Matthew 5:11-12 ESV) Those who endure suffering for Christ’s sake will reign with him (2 Timothy 2:12). If we are insulted for the name of Christ we are blessed because the Spirit of glory and of God rests on us (1 Peter 4:12-14). Persecution will never separate us from the love of God (Romans 8:35). What a blessing!
Are you being persecuted for the godly life you live?
Scriptures for meditation:
1 Corinthians 4:11-13
2 Corinthians 4:8-9
1 Peter 3:14-17