I mean come on, who does not love the Beatitudes? They are fantastic teaching from our Lord Jesus Christ and we followers of the Lord Jesus Christ ought to prayerfully pursue living them out by the power of the Holy Spirit. The only problem with the Beatitudes, is not really with the Beatitudes, but what we very curiously leave out.
(Matthew 5:1-9) And seeing the multitudes, He went up on a mountain, and when He was seated His disciples came to Him. Then He opened His mouth and taught them, saying: “Blessed are the poor in spirit, For theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are those who mourn, For they shall be comforted. Blessed are the meek, For they shall inherit the earth. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, For they shall be filled. Blessed are the merciful, For they shall obtain mercy. Blessed are the pure in heart, For they shall see God. Blessed are the peacemakers, For they shall be called sons of God.
(Matthew 5:10-12) Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, For theirs is the kingdom of heaven. “Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake. Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
(Matthew 5:13-16) “You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt loses its flavor, how shall it be seasoned? It is then good for nothing but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot by men. “You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.
You may be wondering why I have sectioned off one continuous section of verses. The reason should not shock you. Many don’t understand that verses 10-12 are actually part of the Beatitudes, or conveniently under teach the importance of the heart response and life response we are to have when facing persecution. The reality of many Christians in America is that we do anything we can to avoid unpleasant circumstances. we vote based on the prospect of avoiding suffering or the loss of rights–we will take almost any pharmaceutical on the market to avoid unpleasant physical or emotional feelings–we work to build our homes and lives into that which brings us comfort.
I’m not saying all of the above is either good or bad, but stating a fact for the purpose of illustrating why we pass over Matthew 5:10-12. Passing over this portion creates another problem for us, because verses 13-16 cannot be understood in context without our emotional response to persecution in the previous three verses. The main point: Should we live meekness through peacemaking, in the power of Holy Spirit, we will suffer persecution; Therefore we must not only count the cost but respond as Jesus commanded us. Let me explain.
ALL WHO LIVE GODLY IN CHRIST JESUS WILL SUFFER PERSECUTION
Scripture teaches that persecution by the world, against godly followers of Christ, will be a fact of our life (John 15:18-16:3, 16:33; II Timothy 3:12).
(Philippians 1:28-30) and not in any way terrified by your adversaries, which is to them a proof of perdition, but to you of salvation, and that from God. For to you it has been granted on behalf of Christ, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake, having the same conflict which you saw in me and now hear is in me.
Since persecution is to be a fact of our lives, as well as a sure marker that we are true in our following of Jesus, we need to understand what persecution is. Persecution is any action where we are pursued (hunted) by others, for the purpose of forcing to flee from Christ and cease obeying Him in faith. This includes but is not limited to threats, beatings, abuse, lost of job, loss of life, separation from family, imprisonment, or torture.
Remember when they killed the Lord Jesus Christ, He told us we would be treated similarly and we are commanded to respond like Jesus, with joy (Hebrews 12:2-4). in the first place…
WHEN SHINING YOUR LIGHT GETS YOU CLOBBERED, REJOICE!!!
“Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, For theirs is the kingdom of heaven. “Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake. Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you”.
The word “Blessed” means happy are those who are persecuted. Persecution is a circumstance that brings happiness to the saints? That seems so unnatural; and it is. This is where we see that joy is a clear infusion from Christ in the person filled with His Spirit.
How is this happiness possible? It is possible because the one persecuted begins to see their suffering is specifically tied to their love for Jesus and His character in them. Persecution is a clear reminder of the validity of our faith. It is also the answer to Paul’s prayer in Philippians 3:10 “That I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and share in the fellowship of His sufferings”. We can be happier than any other time, when getting clubbed for Christ our Lord, because we have been counted worthy to suffer for His name (Acts 5:41).
Let’s not let the cart get before the horse. Pain hurts a lot and we must remember we grow in this as we face increasing degrees of pressure against us for our faith. This means that we must choose by faith and surrender our will, to rejoice in the pain which comes against us for our testimony of Christ. In this we must choose to rejoice and leap, when it hurts and through the hurting, until the joy of His Spirit is fully manifested. This is not automatic, as it takes our steady and consistent self denial of what is natural and inborn: our fight or flight mechanism.
Jesus does not command only an emotional response to persecution, He further instructions as a life response to persecution.
“You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt loses its flavor, how shall it be seasoned? It is then good for nothing but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot by men. “You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.
WHEN SHINING YOUR LIGHT GETS YOU CLOBBERED… SHINE EVEN BRIGHTER
Jesus’ life response comes with a negative and positive. In the first place, He is declaring that when persecution comes upon you, refuse to let it take the essential dynamic properties out of your life of faith. Simply put, salt has some dynamic qualities, among them it melts ice, flavors things, cleans, and heals. There are direct correlation with a Christians life and faith having the empowered ability to melt the coldness of men’s hearts, make the Christ life tasty to the lost, and bring healing and restoration to humanity.
What we need to grasp is that for salt to work the way it is intended too, it must be rubbed to what it is melting, flavoring, healing, or preserving; and with force. Jesus is saying “Do not let persecution cause you to run from human contact; keep pressing in regardless of outcome.
Secondly, Jesus is saying do not let persecution cause you to hide and be a private Christian; for there is no such thing. Jesus is telling us that when persecution comes, and it will, we must press in harder and shine brighter. Why? Because in that action of faith, men truly see the reality of the presence of Christ in us.
2 Corinthians 4:7-12 But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us. We are hard-pressed on every side, yet not crushed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed— always carrying about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body. For we who live are always delivered to death for Jesus’ sake, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh. So then death is working in us, but life in you.
Let me encourage you, brethren, count the cost considering the ways of persecution and what it means in your life. Let me encourage you to prayerfully consider your willingness to rejoice and shine brighter for Christ when clobbered. There is no greater joy than knowing my love for Jesus is seen, so much, by the darkness around us that the enemies of Christ are trying to shut me up.
Let me admonish you, as well brethren. in the last days persecution of Christians will cover the earth. We are almost there, endure to the end, rejoicing and shining brighter for Christ, as that Great Day approaches.