Matthew – Day 26 – Did You Say Persecuted?
lease begin by reading the Shema out loud and continue trying to memorize it.
“Hear, O Israel. The LORD is our God. The LORD alone. Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. Amen.”
Continue trying to memorize “The Beatitudes” (Matthew 5:1-12). Today we add verses 10 and 11.
The final beatitude from the Sermon on the Mount is found in Matthew 5:10-11. “Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”
He continues saying, “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,…” Does this sound completely backwards? I am supposed to rejoice and be glad because people are insulting me, persecuting me, and lying about me? Again, in order for this to make sense, we have to step back and dig a little deeper into what Jesus is saying.
Jesus was not teaching His followers to seek out persecution. He was trying to prepare them. He was trying to explain that holy living results in persecution. If we place our entire devotion to God above all other things – we will automatically be in conflict with the world.
Another way of looking at this is from Satan’s point of view. If you are coasting through life and doing nothing that furthers the kingdom of God, then he (Satan) might as well leave you alone – because you are not a threat to him or his work. BUT, if you are living your life completely sold out to Christ, then others will see, and you will be a mighty witness and many may turn to Christ. Satan cannot let this happen. So, he brings all kinds of persecution against you to discourage you and cause you to quit. He attacks you at your weakness – success, health, popularity, busyness, physical attraction, guilt, self-esteem… you name it. He will do whatever he can to throw you off in your devotion to God.
Persecution (by itself) does not prove that someone or a group is pleasing to God. People are sometimes persecuted because they hold to hateful and dangerous ideas or they go against the laws of the land or are just odd and annoying. The persecuted that will be blessed are those who are persecuted because of Jesus. Those who are a delight to God will concern Satan and be assured of becoming a target.
How can we even consider rejoicing in this persecution? The answer to that question is in Matthew 5:12. Read this out loud.
The apostles and early Christians truly suffered persecution, which included social and religious rejection, threats, and physical beatings. Many were tortured and killed for their faith. They were prepared for this persecution and their attitude was not what the world expected.
Read Acts 5:40-42 and Acts 7:59-60 (out loud).
They did not rejoice at pain. They rejoiced, because they were serving God. And amazingly, because their reaction was so different than the normal, expected reaction to persecution, many more people turned to Christ.
Are you persecuted? Are you living a life that is worthy of Satan being concerned about your witness for Christ? May we have the power to stand firm in our faith – and not waiver in persecution – so that many will come to know the true power of Christ.
Stephen Willis’ Discipleship Materials