The Beatitudes Part 8: Blessed Are Those Who Are Persecuted

The Beatitudes Part 8: Blessed Are Those Who Have Been Persecuted for the Sake of Righteousness - A Rising Generation Blog Post

This is the last in the Beatitudes series, and I would like to recap the previous posts one more time.

We first looked at being poor in spirit, which meant we recognized our sin and brokenness. The we looked at mourning over that sin and the comfort that would come. After that came the meek, and we talked about submitting our lives to God. Once we are humbled before God, we will hunger and thirst for His righteousness, which is something we can’t get on our own. Next came the merciful. Those who receive mercy from God will then be able to have mercy on others. Then we are made pure in heart so that we can see God. And last week, we looked at what it means to be a peacemaker. The last of the Beatitudes is about persecution.

“Blessed are those who have been persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when people insult and persecute you because of Me. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great; for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.” — Matthew 5:10-12

Who is persecuted?

Indeed, all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted. — 2 Timothy 3:12

There are key phrases to pay attention to in Matthew 5:10, 2 Timothy 3:13, and 1 Peter 4:13-14.

“…Persecuted for the sake of righteousness….” — Matthew 5:10
“…People insult and persecute you because of Me.” — Matthew 5:11
“…Live godly in Christ Jesus…” — 2 Timothy 3:12
“…To the degree that you share the sufferings of Christ…. If you are reviled for the name of Christ…” — 1 Peter 4:13-14

Do you see the common theme? We aren’t talking about punishment for our own wrongdoings (1 Peter 4:15-16). We are talking about persecution for righteousness while living godly lives in Christ Jesus.

If the world hates you, you know what it has hated Me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but I chose you out of the world, because of this the world hates you. — John 15:18-19

When Christians are persecuted for the sake of righteousness, it’s because the world hates Christ. That was true when sin entered the world. It was true when God spoke through the prophets. It was true when Jesus walked the earth. It was true when the apostles started churches, and it is still true now. Just like we saw in The Beatitudes Part 6, the heart is wicked, and we were all born hating God. If we as Christians live our lives for Christ in a sinful world, we will be persecuted.

Why are we persecuted?

We talked in The Beatitudes Part 7 about why we will be persecuted. When we are peacemakers, we are standing for the truth of God’s Word, and we are sharing that truth with unbelievers, which is evangelism. We are standing against sin, and that will produce conflict.

In the last post, we looked briefly at Jesus’ ministry on earth. Did He make friends with everyone, being careful not to say anything that people would find offensive? Certainly not. Jesus preached God’s Word and confronted the Pharisees about their sin. His ministry stirred up so much conflict that He was persecuted and finally sentenced to death on the cross. Jesus didn’t go around looking for fights that He could start though. Each time He spoke it was in defense of the Word of God and to share the saving grace of God with unbelievers.

Indeed, all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted. — 2 Timothy 3:12

When we are peacemakers, living like Christ and sharing the Word, we will be persecuted, just like Jesus was and just like every Christian before us was.

What does “theirs is the kingdom of heaven” mean?

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” — Matthew 5:3

The very first Beatitude we looked at also says, “…theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” Just like we looked at in The Beatitudes Part 1, this refers to salvation and becoming children of God and citizens of heaven. When we are poor in spirit and persecuted for the name of Christ, we know that the kingdom of heaven is ours. We know that one day we will spend eternity with God.

Christ humbled Himself and became man to die for our sins. He came to serve (Matthew 20:26-28, Mark 10:45, Luke 22:27, Philippians 2:7). In the same way, we are called to be selfish and humble, serving the Lord, and that means proclaiming the Gospel and suffering persecution because of it.

The persecution, trails, and pain is only temporary, and what we do during our time on earth will determine our reward in heaven. All those who have been chosen and saved by the grace of God will be given eternal life in heaven, but there are varying rewards for us all. By enduring persecution for Christ’s sake, we will receive blessing and reward one day in heaven (Matthew 6:19-21).

How can we rejoice in persecution?

…to the degree that you share the sufferings of Christ, keep on rejoicing, so that also at the revelation of His glory you may rejoice with exultation. If you are reviled for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you. — 1 Peter 4:13-14

Matthew 5:12 says “rejoice and be glad”, and 1 Peter 4:13 says “keep on rejoicing”. How can we rejoice and be glad when we are being persecuted?

One reason is because of what James 1 tells us. We can rejoice because we know that persecution tests our faith. John MacArthur said, “Trails elevate our dependence.” When we face trails, God is teaching us and making us more like Him. When we are persecuted, we are going to rely more on God, and He will give us the strength to withstand the persecution.

1 Peter 4:14 says, “If you are reviled for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you.” (Emphasis added) We can rejoice knowing that we “share the sufferings of Christ” (1 Peter 4:13) and that we have the Spirit of God.

Another reason is because Matthew 5:12 says “your reward in heaven is great” when we are persecuted. Like I said above, the persecution we face as Christians in this sinful world is temporary compared to the rewards in heaven, which last for eternity.

When we are being persecuted, remember that it isn’t us personally that people are attacking. They attack us because of Christ in us. They attack us and reject us because they deny Him. When you become a Christian and truly live a life according to God’s Word, you will face persecution, which comes in many different forms. Remember that persecution is the evidence that we are living a godly life in Christ. That is something worth rejoicing in.

Are you the only one being persecuted?

“Rejoice and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great; for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.” — Matthew 5:12

Jesus tells his disciples that the prophets who came before them were persecuted for His sake. The disciplines weren’t the only ones being persecuted, and it wasn’t something new. Be encouraged by knowing that you are not the only one either. There are many who came before you and were persecuted. Moses was persecuted. Jesus was persecuted. Paul was persecuted. Jim Elliot was persecuted. The list goes on.

Hebrews 11 is often referred to as the heroes of faith. One of my favorite passages is Hebrews 11:24-26.

“By faith Moses, when he had grown up, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, choosing rather to endure ill-treatment with the people of God than to enjoy the passing pleasures of sin, considering the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures of Egypt; for he was looking to the reward.” — Hebrews 11:24-26

Moses was a prince of Egypt, and he could have chosen to stay in Egypt, enjoying the passing pleasures of sin. Instead, he endured persecution alongside his people, the Israelites. Why? Because he considered “the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures of Egypt; for he was looking to the reward.”

When God shows us our brokenness and we turn from that sin towards Him, putting our faith in Jesus, we will be saved. As we seek His righteous and learn His Word, we will become more like Him. By living a life that reflects Him, we will be persecuted like Christ was persecuted before us, but we are not alone. God will give us the strength to endure persecution for His sake, and we can surround ourselves with people who will pray for us and hold us accountable as we strive to follow Christ’s example and honor God.

I hope you enjoyed reading this series as much as I enjoyed writing it. It’s my prayer that you have learned more about God and His Word through this study. I certainly have through studying for this series.

If you have any questions or thoughts, please share in the comments below. If you have any questions or ideas for a post that you’d like to read, you can also share those in the comments below. Finally, if you know anyone who could benefit from reading any of these posts in the series, please share it with them.

Your sister in Christ,

Meagan

The Beatitudes Part 1: Blessed Are the Poor in Spirit

The Beatitudes Part 2: Blessed Are Those Who Mourn

The Beatitudes Part 3: Blessed Are the Meek

The Beatitudes Part 4: Blessed Are Those Who Hunger and Thirst for Righteousness

The Beatitudes Part 5: Blessed Are the Merciful

The Beatitudes Part 6: Blessed Are the Pure in Heart

The Beatitudes Part 7: Blessed Are the Peacemakers

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