Summary: When you suffer, are you suffering for "righteousness sake" or for some evil that you have committed? In today’s study, Pastor Steve will address suffering in the life of a believer.
In the book, The Triumphant Church, Richard Wurmbrand recounts the last Sunday School class he taught before leaving Romania. He writes: "I remember my last Sunday School class...I took a group of ten to fifteen boys and girls on a Sunday morning, not to a church, but to the zoo. Before the cage of lions I told them, ‘Your forefathers in faith were thrown before such wild beasts for their faith. Know that you also will have to suffer. You will not be thrown before lions, but you will have to suffer at the hands of men who would be much worse than lions. Decide here and now whether you wish to pledge allegiance to Christ’" (p.15).
If that were you what would you have done? Would you have brushed it off and treated it lightly or would you have considered the cost?
In our study yesterday, we said there was a price to pay for true happiness or as Matthew 5 puts it "blessedness." What is that price? It is the price of humility.
Leading up to the blessing that is reserved for those who are persecuted are the words: "Blessed are the poor in spirit, For theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are those who mourn, For they shall be comforted. Blessed are the meek, For they shall inherit the earth. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, For they shall be filled. Blessed are the merciful, For they shall obtain mercy. Blessed are the pure in heart, For they shall see God. Blessed are the peacemakers, For they shall be called sons of God" (The New King James Version. 1996, c1982 (Mt 5:3-9). Nashville: Thomas Nelson).
Jesus says that the path to true blessedness is through the path of poverty of spirit, mourning, meekness, hungering and thirsting for righteousness, mercy, purity, and peace. All of these characteristics move in an upward spiral to what follows in verses 10-12.
This blessing that Jesus is referring to "has to do with an inward contendedness that is not affected by circumstances." In other words, it is "free from daily cares and worries." It is as Paul stated in Philippians 4:11-13 a state of contendedness.
So the blessing that is given to the persecuted is a double portion, as we saw last time. It is for righteousness’ sake.
Notice in Matthew 5:10 Jesus says, "...for righteousness sake" and in verse 11, "...for My sake." The parallel passage in Luke 6:22 says, "Blessed are you when men hate you, and when they exclude you, and revile you, and cast out your name as evil, for the Son of Man’s sake" (emphasis added). The apostle Peter also says this in 1 Peter 3:14, when he says, "But even if you should suffer for righteousness’ sake, you are blessed" (emphasis added).
When you suffer, are you suffering for "righteousness sake" or for some evil that you have committed? Remember the path to blessing, and I might add, double blessing is through humility. Humble yourself today and rest in the assurance that yours "is the kingdom of heaven" (v.10).