sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”
Matt. 5:10 NKJV
The Living Bible states that verse this way, “Happy are those who are persecuted because they are good, for the Kingdom of Heaven is theirs.”
Happy? Happy? How happy are we when we try to live righteous, upstanding lives and get berated for it? What puny vapors compared to the persecution others around the world suffer.
But scripture says you’ll be happy. You’ll be blessed. You’ll be rewarded. It is hard to imagine, isn’t it? But that is what the Word says. Let’s see…
“God blesses you when people mock you and persecute you and lie about you and say all sorts of evil things against you because you are My followers. Be happy about it! Be very glad! For a great reward awaits you in heaven. And remember, the ancient prophets were persecuted in the same way.” (Matt. 5:10-12 NLT)
Jesus told the disciples, “Do you remember what I told you? ‘A slave isn’t greater than his master!’ So since they persecuted Me, naturally they will persecute you. And if they had listened to Me, they would listen to you! The people of the world will persecute you because you belong to Me, for they don’t know God who sent Me.” (John 15:20-21 TLB)
Does scripture say that persecution will end? No. We cannot escape it, as Paul said, “Yes, and those who decide to please Christ Jesus by living godly lives will suffer at the hands of those who hate Him.” (2 Tim. 3:12 TLB)
Rarely was Paul not persecuted. He continued to live with it shadowing his life. He wrote the Philippians, “For you have been given not only the privilege of trusting in Christ but also the privilege of suffering for Him. We are in this struggle together. You have seen my struggle in the past, and you know that I am still in the midst of it.” (Phil. 1:29-30 NLT)
And remember that when they persecute you, they persecute Jesus.
Paul, the worst of all persecutors of Christians, tried desperately to destroy the church. One day, on the Damascus Road, he encountered a blinding light as the Lord surrounded him, and said, “‘Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?’ And he said, ‘Who are You, Lord?’ Then the Lord said, ‘I am Jesus, Whom you are persecuting.’” (Acts 9:4-5 NKJV)
In persecuting the Christians, Paul had persecuted the Lord Himself.
When persecution comes, remember what Peter said…
“Usually no one will hurt you for wanting to do good. But even if they should, you are to be envied, for God will reward you for it. Quietly trust yourself to Christ your Lord, and if anybody asks why you believe as you do, be ready to tell him, and do it in a gentle and respectful way. Do what is right; then if men speak against you, calling you evil names, they will become ashamed of themselves for falsely accusing you when you have only done what is good. Remember, if God wants you to suffer, it is better to suffer for doing good than for doing wrong!” (1 Peter 3:13-17 TLB)
What did Paul tell the Roman Christians? “If someone mistreats you because you are a Christian, don’t curse him; pray that God will bless him.” (Rom. 12:14 TLB)
And the reward? The Kingdom of Heaven is yours!