Please begin with prayer for an open heart, before you read the passage below. Matthew 5:10-12 – Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 11 “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. 12 Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
I typically bring my lunch and eat at my desk and have done this since I started working. I have developed a progression of websites I typically look at during lunch---yahoo.finance.com, cnn.com, and espn.com. In the last year of so, I have noticed the comments feature at the bottom of articles. They will have the article and then at the bottom, any reader can respond in any way that I like. Many times, the readers’ comments are better than the articles themselves! I specifically try to read any article relating to faith that’s in the positive or the negative. While reading the comments on those articles, you can quickly see how charged an issue it is on both sides---Athiests take ridiculous shots at Christians (or anyone of faith) and Christians typically respond with judgment and insensitivity.
These comments came to mind while reading this passage from Matthew. People are going to insult us because of what we believe and how we live. This can make living as a Christian challenging and people around us can ostracize us from the rest of the group because of our faith. John Devries told some amazing stories of persecution that missionaries face in India, where Christians are the extreme minority in that country. They have such joy in Christ that they are willing to withstand the insults, threats, and at times violence, because they love Christ more than their reputation and trust their eternal well-being over the temporary!
Luke 9:25 says, ‘What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit his very self?’ We make small and big choices every day that point to which Kingdom is priority for us and this passage helps me to step back and realize which Kingdom truly matters. I can be so caught up in the day to day activities and flesh and blood in front of me and forget the spiritual realm which is where the true battle is taking place!
When we receive a Biblical perspective our priorities are re-ordered and it really makes life easier. We elevate the eternal and relegate the earthly and temporary and are able to hold things that are important to the world much more loosely. In this text, Jesus is assuring us that this short-term suffering is evidence of our long-term destination! We also take hope in the persecution He faced and joyfully endured to redeem humanity. Children of God, we are truly blessed when we are insulted or suffer for the name of Jesus. We must fix our eyes on Jesus and have hope, because great is our reward in Heaven!
Have you been insulted or felt persecution because of your faith? How do you get through the insults and what gives you hope? Do you have perspective that eternity matters over temporary things and what Kingdom are you living for? I would love to hear your journey and how this passage impacted you.