Summary: Part 3 of a 3 part series on suffering
Persecution and trouble
Dealing with people will always be a difficult challenge. God has given us the responsibility to become the bridge builders. Human nature causes us to look at each situation from a selfish perspective. We will always feel wronged if we are in the short end of any given problem. The advantage we have as Christians is that we can step back from our desire to have it our own way and look at a problem with an eternal perspective. We can ask ourselves how this fits into the big picture? We can look beyond the conflict and to the end result. Ecclesiastes 7 explains:
8 The end of a thing is better than its beginning; The patient in spirit is better than the proud in spirit.
9 Do not hasten in your spirit to be angry, For anger rests in the bosom of fools.
How many times have we heard and ourselves said that the issue is not a big deal, it’s the principle of the matter? In truth we are fighting for pride, but calling it principle. However, the biblical approach goes against human nature. God tells us that patience is better than pride and holding onto anger makes us into fools. If we can look toward the end, we can see the meaninglessness of ‘fighting for the principle’. The hard part is removing ourselves emotionally and determining if we truly are standing on principles based on God’s word or if we are fighting for our own way. In this study, we will look at our responsibility and then we will look at enduring persecution and trouble.
Blessed are the peacemakers
At the sermon on the mount, Jesus taught the following in Matthew 5:
3 "Blessed are the poor in spirit, For theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
4 Blessed are those who mourn, For they shall be comforted.
5 Blessed are the meek, For they shall inherit the earth.
6 Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, For they shall be filled.
7 Blessed are the merciful, For they shall obtain mercy.
8 Blessed are the pure in heart, For they shall see God.
9 Blessed are the peacemakers, For they shall be called sons of God.
10 Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, For theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
11 "Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake.
12 "Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
13 " You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt loses its flavor, how shall it be seasoned? It is then good for nothing but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot by men.
It would be good to spend more time studying this passage, but for now I just want to point out a few things to take note of. There is a process of growth that is necessary to become a peacemaker and there are consequences for not doing so. Jesus taught that when we are born into God’s kingdom, it is through brokeness. Being crushed is not the same as being broken. A person can be emotionally crushed and still have a self-centered will that is in opposition to God. God resists the proud, but the humble finds grace. When we recognize that we are sinners, we realize our need for a savior. In John 12:25 Jesus said, “He who loves his life will lose it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life.” There is a difference between hating your life and hating yourself. When I see how worthless my ways are, only then can I open my eyes to God’s ways. Once I see my desperate need, then I am broken and will allow God to take control and heal my spirit. Look at Matthew 21
42 Jesus said to them, "Have you never read in the Scriptures: ’The stone which the builders rejected Has become the chief cornerstone. This was the LORD’s doing, And it is marvelous in our eyes’?
43 "Therefore I say to you, the kingdom of God will be taken from you and given to a nation bearing the fruits of it.
44 "And whoever falls on this stone will be broken; but on whomever it falls, it will grind him to powder."
The Pharisees raged at these harsh words, but there is a key truth in this passage we should not miss. Jesus is the stone everything else is built upon. When we fall upon Him we are broken. When we are broken, then we are willing to allow God to build us into what He desires us to be. The flip side belongs to those who reject Christ and those who are too stiffened by pride to be broken. Everyone will either fall upon Christ or will be put under Christ in defeat. For the believer, a broken spirit is the beginning of our spiritual walk. We are broken and realize that we are indeed poor in spirit. When we realize this, we surrender to Christ and inherit the kingdom of God.