Matthew 5:10 NKJV “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”
To eagerly desire righteousness is a blessing but there is a cost attached to it: persecution. Our Lord and Master Jesus did not paint a vague picture of ‘being a good person’ or ‘doing the right thing’ when He spoke of righteousness. Rather, He was implying honouring God with our thoughts, words, and actions. The Beatitudes formed part of an intensive discipleship training for the twelve disciples.
Jesus began His sermon by describing twelve desirable traits. One of those traits was being faithful in persecution. He calls those who live out those traits ‘blessed’ because God has something special in store for them.
Beloved, the Beatitudes don’t promise pleasure or earthly prosperity. To Jesus, ‘blessed’ meant much more than mere fleeting happiness. It meant unshakeable joy and unspeakable peace that are not dependent on circumstances. It implies the enviable state of those who are in God’s Kingdom; a state that the world can not comprehend.
In verse 10, we are commanded to rejoice in the face of persecution. It surely sounds impossible. But that is only true for people in the world. God’s grace is more than sufficient for Spirit-filled Believers.
Now, persecution can arise for various reasons. But Jesus is specific in this beatitude: blessed are those who are persecuted for actively pursuing God’s Kingdom. To be righteous is to choose to do the right thing; to make a conscious decision for Christ. We choose to honour God and be faithful to Him, knowing fully well that we might be persecuted for that choice. And Abba Father honours our choice with His promise of eternal life.
Persecution also helps refine us:
- It takes our eyes off earthly rewards and admiration
- It strips away superficial belief systems
- It strengthens our faith in the midst of persecution
- Our attitude through it serves as an example for others to follow
Dearly beloved, let us be encouraged by the Word of the Lord today. Whenever we are reviled, hated, looked down on, or mocked for our faith, we are blessed. Better still, we are counted among those who have a part in God’s eternal Kingdom.
“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.” (James 1: 2 – 3)