The beatitudes end with the promised blessing of persecution. After studying the many ways that believers are blessed by God, we might expect to end on something more positive and hopeful. However, I think it is fitting that persecution would be the likely result for those who follow hard after Jesus. After all, Jesus’ earthly ending was at the cross, and we are called to follow Him.
“Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. “Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.” – Matthew 5:10-12
The godly life that believers are called to live is not for the weak at heart. We proceed knowing the hard and narrow road ahead. Jesus’ followers will never escape persecution and trials if we are truly proclaiming the gospel. We will share in Jesus’ blessings, but also share in His suffering.
“Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.” – 2 Timothy 3:12
After studying the first seven beatitudes, we can see why a life lived righteously would expose and threaten people.
- The blessed ones who are humble and poor in spirit shine a spotlight on those who are proud and arrogant. Their life is an attack on the self-righteous and self-sufficient.
- The blessed ones who mourn over their sin and are repentant expose the lifestyles of those who celebrate and flaunt their sin.
- The blessed ones who are meek and gentle are a sharp contrast to those who are overbearing and aggressive.
- The blessed ones who hunger and thirst for righteousness reveal those who are slaves to the pleasures, prestige, and the possessions of this world.
- The blessed ones who are merciful prick the hearts of those who are judgmental, critical, and negative.
- For the blessed ones who are pure at heart, their chastity is an attack on those who are sexually liberated. Their honesty convicts those who are immoral. Their hard work shames the lazy and apathetic.
- The blessed ones who are peacemakers unmask those who are divisive, prejudiced, argumentative, and bitter.
“Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him.” – James 1:12
No matter how loving, kind, or gracious you are, if you proclaim Jesus you will be hated. When people hate you, they hate the Jesus in you.
Persecution looks very different throughout the world. Some are experiencing imprisonment, torture, or death for the sake of Jesus. While others are slandered, insulted, labeled, excluded from social events, disowned from the family, or physically attacked. No matter how persecution looks in your life, no suffering is wasted.
“Remember the word that I said to you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you. If they kept my word, they will also keep yours.” – John 15:20
Our temptation is to avoid persecution at all costs. We do this either by keeping our mouths closed and not speaking of Jesus or by isolating ourselves with only like-minded Christians. We must not do either one. We must have the courage to stand boldly.
“For it has been granted to you on behalf of Jesus Christ not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for Him.” – Philippians 1:29
There is no shortcut to sanctification. God’s way is always the way of suffering. God’s way is to deny ourselves, to take up our Cross daily, and follow Jesus…no matter the cost.
When facing persecution, we remember our most important mission while we are here on this earth – to reach out to those who do not know God and share His Good News that true forgiveness from sin is possible through faith in Jesus.
As we face persecution, we remember that it is a privilege that we get to endure this for Jesus. We show the world that Jesus is worth dying for. Our lives are destined to be the trophies of God’s grace and love.
Peace and grace to you,
Terria serves on the LGG encourager and social media teams. She lives in Virginia with her husband. Her passion is igniting and empowering women to grab hold of God’s truth and cling to it. She is always hard at work in military hospitals listening to patients’ stories, while sharing the love that God has poured out in her life. Despite the chaotic circumstances of Terria’s life, God always shows Himself strong and loving.
Week 6 Challenge: If you find yourself being persecuted or mocked for your faith, make a conscious effort to respond in love and kindness. Take the week to pray for Christians around the world who are experiencing horrific and terrifying persecution because of their faith in Jesus. Pray for them to feel peace, to remain steadfast in their faith, and to find divine joy in the midst of fear and uncertainty.
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Join us on January 6th as we begin our new Draw Near study...a study unlike any other that we’ve created!
Have you ever read the Bible and thought, “How do I make sense of this?”
Have you ever struggled to understand how to apply God’s Word to your life?
Have you ever felt like God’s Word is a confusing collection of stories and sayings, and you’re not sure how it all fits together?
You’re not alone.
Draw Near is a Bible study designed to help us answer these questions.
By drawing near to God, He promises to draw near to us. As we study God’s Word, we learn more about His character. As we learn more about His character, we understand more of His work and plan. God’s Word is the most reliable and trustworthy resource we have for understanding who He is: let’s use it!
By studying and understanding God’s Word, we deepen our relationships with Him. Learning to study God’s Word is a skill that will reap incredible benefits throughout our lives, but it takes commitment and discipline.
Draw Near: Learning to Study God’s Word to Deepen Your Walk with Him will guide you through Bible study methods, teaching you tools to grow in your understanding of God’s Word. As we learn the importance of memorization, observation, interpretation, application, and prayer, we will begin to see and understand God’s Word in new ways.
Let’s embark on this journey together, learning to study God’s Word in order to deepen our relationships with Him. Join us online for this six-week study or on our Love God Greatly app. You’ll find corresponding Draw Near content in both places with our Monday, Wednesday, and Friday blogs, further insights through our daily devotions, and a loving community to cheer for you as you learn to study God’s Word.