Blessed Are Those Who Are Persecuted for Righteousness Sake

Matthew 5:10-12

“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.”

The Meaning of the Verse

Sadly, Christians are very often persecuted not for their Christianity, but for lack of it. Sometimes they have unpleasing personalities. They are rude, insensitive, thoughtless, or piously obnoxious.

Remember, Christ’s words must be read in their entirety. “Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness.” In context, this is the righteousness taught in the preceding Beatitudes.

Unfortunately, the world cannot tolerate such a life. Why?

  1. Poverty of spirit runs counter to the pride of the unbelieving heart.
  2. The mourning, repentant heart that sorrows over its own sin and the sins of society is not appreciated by the world.
  3. The gentle and meek person, the one who has the strength not to take up a personal offense, is regarded as weak by those who do not know Christ.
  4. Hungering and thirsting for the spiritual—for Christ—is foreign and repugnant to a world that lusts after only what it can touch and taste.
  5. The truly merciful person who not only feels compassion and forgiveness but who gives it is out of step with the grudge-bearing callousness of our age is an awkward, embarrassing rebuke to the uncaring.
  6. The pure, single-minded heart focused on God provides a convicting contrast to impure, self-focused culture.
  7. The peacemaker is discomforting because he will not settle for a cheap or counterfeit peace and has an embarrassing inclination to wage peace.

Ultimately, the foundational reason why such a person will be persecuted is because he or she is like Christ.  

The Manifestation of the Verse

Persecution has always characterized the people of God. Moses was reviled again and again. Jesus Himself was put to death by the people with whom He ministered. Stephen was stoned, and the entire course of Paul’s life was one long series of bitter and relentless persecutions.

Persecution, painful as it may be, is really a blessing in disguise.

  1. The Lord’s people become better acquainted with their own infirmities and needs, which brings them to the reality that they cannot stand for a single hour unless divine grace upholds them.
  2. They often are kept from certain sins into which they would most likely fall were the wicked at peace with them.
  3. It offers the believer an opportunity to glorify God by his or her constancy, courage, and fidelity to the Truth.

The Majesty of the Verse

Jesus defines how His disciples are to conduct themselves under the fire of persecution. Instead of being downcast and murmuring at the hostility, they are to be thankful for being granted the high honor. You are to look heavenward and realize that “your reward in heaven is great…”

Let us remember the words of the martyr Polycarp. When Roman authorities demand that he curse Christ or be burned at the stake, he replied, “Eighty-six years I have served Him. He has never done me wrong. How then can I blaspheme my King who has saved me?” May we all have such resolution to face persecution and not relent—for the glory of God.

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