Summary: You can be a "victor" instead of a "victim" in the face of persecution or mistreatment.
Text: “Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake” (Matthew 5:11).
Jesus tells us to rejoice and be glad when we are persecuted. That is kind of strange. Why should we be happy when we are being hurt or wronged or mistreated or victimized? Could persecution be good for us? Could it give us a different view of life that might be beneficial to us? Maybe persecution would help us focus more on what God has in store for us in heaven than what man has in store for us on earth. There is a possibility that persecution might just strengthen our faith.
Have you ever been persecuted or mistreated or offended? I would venture to say that most of us have been offended in one way or another. Have you ever been talking to someone and that person uses the name of your Lord in vain? If so, did that offend you? Have you ever tried to witness and the individual you are witnessing to rejects what you are saying and the person comes up with a dozen reasons why you are completely wrong? Were you offended?
Were you ever offended in Sunday School class because your opinion or your answer to the teacher’s question was laughed at? As a Christian, do you find that people tend to shy away from you and refer to you as a Jesus nut or Jesus freak?
A religious paper tells of the reporters who rushed to see Pastor Martin Niemoeller after his release from prison that they might get some juicy words to print in their newspaper. Instead, they heard a stirring Gospel message and one reporter was heard to say: “Six years in a Nazi prison camp and all he has got to talk about is Jesus Christ.” (Gospel Herald)
Pastor Martin did not care about what people thought of what he had to say. He was not one to sing “the blues”. Yes, he was persecuted and mistreated while in the Nazi prison camp, but his faith grew stronger and stronger because he knew where his strength and courage came from. The German guards made his life miserable, but Pastor Martin’s eyes were focused on his Savior. He became a living example of what Jesus could do in the life of a persecuted man.
Life for the Christian is not a bed of roses. How many of you have lived a life free of persecution, problems, difficulties, hardships, trials, or tribulations? Have you received everything you asked for? Have all your wants been met? Did you acquire the job you really wanted? Did you get to marry the person you always dreamed of spending your life with? Because you and your spouse were Christians, did the two of you always agree on everything? I believe that you would agree with me that life is not a bed of roses. Life has not been easy, but life has been good. Life has been good because our Savior always gives us the best if we just let him be in control.
Jesus promised an abundant life to all who would follow him. He said, “I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly” (John 10:10). It is a rude awakening to some people when they find out that the abundant life is not a life free of stress, tension, battles and conflicts. The Christian is still attacked by doubt, worry and fear, but with faith in Jesus and the Holy Spirit within, there is nothing to be concerned about. Satan likes to make Christians unhappy, miserable, depressed and negative in thought. This happens when the Christian loses hope and lets Satan rule his or her life. We Christians must remember that “He who is in you (us) is greater than he who is in the world” (I John 4:4).