Blessed are those who have been persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me.
Rejoice and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great; for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
– Matthew 5:10-12 NASB
Yesterday we focused on one of the Beatitudes. Here’s how those beatitudes conclude. It’s one thing to hunger and thirst after righteousness, it’s another to maintain that appetite when the world makes it increasingly unpleasant for us to do so.
Lots of people happily follow Jesus when they first hear about Him. After a while, however, they begin to see that their desire for righteousness is costing them something. And sometimes it can cost them quite a bit.
The Old Testament prophets and the New Testament apostles paid a heavy price for being devoted to Christ – sometimes even a premature death. Seldom are we today called to pay the price of death that they did, yet we are called to walk in their steps, to take the kind of risks they took. Though we can stand in awe of their courage, we can also identify with their weak moments – as when Peter once took the easy way out by distancing himself from Jesus, telling the bystanders to Jesus’ trial and scourging, “I do not know the man” (Matthew 26:74). As Peter recovered from his fears, may we recover from ours.
Do we crave righteousness so much that we are willing to be persecuted in our pursuit of it? If so, our rewards will be great. However much we are willing to suffer for Christ, by just that much and more He is willing to comfort us in our affliction…and glorify us in heaven to come.
Most of us don’t need, and aren’t motivated by, promises of great glory in heaven. We just want the peace that comes from knowing we haven’t disappointed Him who loved us and endured so much persecution on our behalf.
(Remember that prayer is more about listening than talking. Use the words below to start yourself, but then allow time to reflect more on the Scripture above before you say the “Amen.” During that time of quiet reflection, let God shape your thoughts and wait for a sense of peace to come. That’s your signal to say “Amen” and go forth to the day.)
Father in heaven, thank You for showing us how to keep on doing right even when it becomes painful. We know that much of our suffering in life is brought on by our own bad behavior rather than our hunger to do what is right in Your sight. Help us learn not to complain in either case…(this is where you remain quiet in order to let Him work in your thoughts)… Amen.