Summary: As we examine this beatitude, let’s note some ways true believers are persecuted and what our reaction to persecution should be.
BLESSED ARE THE PERSECUTED
The Apostle Paul was describing the many different persecutions he faced in his life as a preacher of the gospel. He shared how the Lord had delivered him from from them all. He wrote, “In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, while evil men and impostors will go from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived. But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you learned it.” (2 Timothy 2:12-14)
God never promises us that we will have an easy life. In fact, if you live for God in this world you will be persecuted. The life of a believer intimidates others. Believers are persecuted because of two primary reasons.
1. They live a righteous life.
2. They belong to a new master. Luke 6:22-23 “Blessed are you when men hate you, when they exclude you and insult you and reject your name as evil, because of the Son of Man. Rejoice in that day and leap for joy, because great is your reward in heaven. For that is how their fathers treated the prophets.”
Then Jesus went on to say, “Woe to you when all men speak well of you, for that is how their fathers treated the false prophets.” Luke 6:26
As we examine this beatitude, let’s note some ways true believers are persecuted and what our reaction to persecution should be.
I. SOME WAYS BELIEVERS ARE PERSECUTED
A. THERE IS PHYSICAL PERSECUTION: The word means chasing, driving away, or perusing. It includes harassment, abuse, and other unjust treatment including imprisonment and death.
Stephen was the first Christian to be murdered because of his commitment to Jesus Christ. James was killed by the sword. In fact, most of the apostles were killed. Peter was crucified upside down. Paul was beheaded. Many were fed to the lions.
Such persecution continues in our day. I could tell you some horror stories that were told to me by the victims of persecution from the communist Sandanista soldiers of Nicaragua.
B. THERE ARE VERBAL INSULTS: To cast insults is to throw abusive words and to mock viciously. To be a citizen of the kingdom is to court verbal abuse and revilings. Jesus was spat upon, beaten, and taunted on his way to be crucified. Faithfulness to Christ may cause some to mock you and insult you.
A godly Christian lady was constantly harassed by her co-workers because of her Christian life style. A deacon was persistently taunted by his supervisor for his Christian conduct. A friend was forced to leave his job because he would not drink alcoholic drinks at an office party. These things happened in Mississippi.
C. THERE ARE FALSE ACCUSATIONS: Insults are said to our faces. False accusations are spoken behind our backs. Christians have been accussed of many things. Burning Rome, murdering children, cannibalism, etc. Even Jesus was accused of many different things. “Behold, a gluttonous man and a drunkard, a friend of tax-gatherere and sinners”
It is interesting that Christians are blamed by the media for the murder of a young homosexual man. No Christian committed that act of violence.
The fact is, If you choose to live for Jesus Christ, you will be persecuted. The sad thing is that you will often be harassed by those who claim to be Christians.
II. OUR REACTION TO PERSECUTION
“Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad…..” Our reaction to persecution for the cause of Christ is to be one of joy.
How strange to say “rejoice and be glad…” How can we rejoice and be glad when we are being persecuted. Lets finish the verse, “Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”
The early believers “rejoiced that they were counted worthy to suffer for Christ.”
Paul wrote, “We also rejoice in our sufferings because we know that suffering produces perseverance, perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.” (Rom 5:3-5)
In this verse, Jesus gives us two reasons why believers can rejoice in the midst of persecution.
A. BELIEVERS CAN REJOICE IN THE MIDST OF PERSECUTION BECAUSE THEY HAVE A GREAT REWARD IN HEAVEN.
Our present life is just a vapor that appears for a moment and then it is gone. Heaven is forever. Jesus tells us not to lay up treasures on earth “Where moth and rust destroy , and where thieves break in and steal. But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal.” (Mt. 6:19-20)