Matthew 5:10 prepares us for persecution as it reveals, “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven.”
According to Scripture, becoming a genuine Christian means becoming the butt of the world’s jokes. It means being ostracized socially and considered inappropriate to society. But no matter what happens, nothing can take our joy from us.
Adrian Rogers says, “Joy controls conditions like a thermostat. Persecution is the thermometer that registers how much you love Jesus.”
The first reason we are persecuted is because of the life we live: “for righteousness' sake” (v. 10).
Christians are persecuted because they divide; they are different. In Matthew 5:13-16, Jesus called us the “salt” and “light” of this world. Salt irritates the wounds of this world, and light exposes its darkness. In context, Jesus is saying we are to be irritants and exposers of sin.
But we must not confuse punishment for persecution. Adrian Rogers says, “We are punished by good people when we do evil. We are persecuted by evil people when we do good.”
Christians who are filled with the Holy Spirit will be “naturally supernatural.” We don’t dare to claim we are persecuted if we are not living for Jesus Christ.
The second reason we are persecuted is because of the Lord we love: Jesus says, “for My sake” (v. 11).
The world hates Jesus Christ because He stands against the very things the world stands for: drunkenness, abortion, pornography, pride, racism, and greed. And as followers of Christ, we can expect persecutions of various kinds: personal insult, physical abuse, social stigma.
But our response should be one of royalty; because we are children of the King, we reign in life and can return good for evil. We must also rejoice in the Lord; we have been identified as followers of Christ, and associated with the Lord—what an honor!
Finally, we should respond in love. What a witness that is: to respond to the hate of this world with the love it desperately needs.
Apply it to your life
Knowing the reasons for persecution and the results of it, what is your response? Are you willing to follow Jesus in a world that hates Him? When you are persecuted, rejoice in the Lord and respond in love.
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