The Sermon on the Mount, written by Matthew, is the great account of Jesus’ teachings to his disciples. Here we see Jesus describe the behavior He wants of His followers.
In verses 3-12 of chapter five, we see Jesus tell his disciples the eight things that lead to a blessed life. This portion of scripture, known as the beatitudes, does not match what most believe a blessed and happy life looks like.
For example, Jesus says those who mourn will be blessed and that the meek are especially blessed. But this may seem to counter the Americanized version of happiness to some.
The beatitudes are rounded out when Jesus states that those who are persecuted for doing good will be blessed.
I’m sorry, what?
Yes, you read that correctly. Jesus is telling us that if we are persecuted for doing good, this will lead to a blessed life.
Here it is in its glorious entirety:
“Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. “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 5:10-12)
Why, you ask? Because persecution is the result of practicing His teachings and believing in Him.
One of Jesus’ most outstanding qualities was His honesty. Jesus never left people in any doubt about what would happen when they choose to follow Him.
He was always clear that He had come ‘not to make life easy, but to make us great.’ At this time, remember, Christians were being slaughtered by the thousands because they were putting Christ above Caesar; nowadays, we feel persecuted if someone doesn’t like the Bible verse we post on Facebook.
We as Believers should rejoice – not in spite of the persecution, but because of it, for our reward “is great in heaven.”
In 2 Timothy 3:12-13, Paul says, “Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, while evil people and impostors will go on from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived.”
Paul is offering his own life as an example to Timothy that he must also expect to suffer if he truly follows Christ.
Persecutions of some sort are to be expected by Christians who are committed to living a Godly life. And as Paul encourages Timothy, we too must be encouraged that, in the end, we will receive great rewards from our Father in Heaven.
We live in a culture that believes life should be about what makes us happy and feel good. It is commonplace for marriages to fall apart because two people “just couldn’t make it work” or for kids to quit a sports team because “they just didn’t feel like playing anymore.”
So the last thing anyone wants to deal with is being persecuted for something they believe in because that’s just “too difficult.”
However, we are commanded to go into all the world and speak the truth of God’s love.
If we are going to follow that command, then we need to be prepared to face opposition. We must be ready to endure hardship in the name of spreading the Gospel.
The message of Christ’s love for us stands at odds with the rest of the world. But as Romans 12:2 says, “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”
We must offer ourselves to God; this is true worship. Yes, we will face persecution for not molding ourselves into what the world believes we should be.
But, in the end, we will have an eternal home with our Father in heaven because we lived boldly in our faith and our belief in the one true Savior, Jesus Christ.