Matthew 5:10-12 ESV
“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.”
If We Are Persecuted
If we are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, it will be because we represent Jesus Christ in the things that we do and say. It will be because we are living holy lives, separate (unlike, different) from the world because we are being made to be like Jesus. And it will be because we have forsaken our sinful practices to follow Jesus Christ according to his will and to his ways.
It will also be because we are sharing the truth of the gospel of our salvation with the people of the world and with the worldly professers of faith in Jesus Christ who are still walking according to the flesh and not according to the Spirit. And it will be because we are exposing the fruitless deeds of darkness and false teachings and we are proclaiming the truth in contrast to the lies.
It will also be because what we are sharing is impacting people’s lives for Jesus Christ, and Satan does not like that, and so he will come out against us, sometimes through other humans, just like he did against Jesus and the prophets before him. And sometimes that will come through character assassinations and false accusations in hopes to destroy us.
We will also be persecuted because we do not conform to the norms of society if those norms go against the Scriptures. And this includes that we will not conform to the norms of institutional religion, either, for it conflicts with the teachings of Scripture. And so we will be mistreated because we go against the flow and we don’t follow the crowd (the majority).
So, we will be harassed because we follow the teachings of the Scriptures rather than following men in their deceitful scheming. And we will be oppressed when we do not accept a diluted and altered gospel message, but we oppose it, and we expose it for the lie that it is, and because we are teaching the full gospel message, the whole counsel of God.
And we will be attacked and mistreated and rejected because we confront deliberate and habitual and unrepentant sin in the church and we call people to turn from their sins to walk in obedience to the Lord and to his commands. So the complacent and the addicted will not like us and they will oppose us and come against us and they may even plot evil against us.
We are Blessed
When we are blessed of God it is because he is extending his grace to us, his comfort, his encouragement, his healing mercies, and his spiritual benefits. And one of the ways in which he extends his benefits to us is by allowing us to go through trials and tribulations which test our faith, because suffering produces in us endurance, character, and hope.
When we go through difficulties which try our faith we learn perseverance, and we learn to rely on God and not on ourselves, and we grow to maturity in our walks of faith in Jesus Christ, provided that we respond to that suffering by submitting our lives to the will of God for our lives and we do not fight against the Lord and what he is trying to do in our lives.
Also, when we are grieved by various trials it is “so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.” And it is so that we may share in God’s holiness, and if we have been trained by God’s discipline, that afterward it might yield the peaceful fruit of righteousness in our lives.
So, we should expect that if we are walking in the footsteps of Jesus that we will be treated much in the same ways as he was. We may be harassed as he was, and falsely accused, and have traps laid for us to fall into in hopes that they will trip us up so they will have cause to accuse us. And we may be falsely accused of wrong, and falsely arrested, and have our reputations smeared, and we may be beaten and even killed for our faith in Christ.
But another reason that the Lord allows us to go through such things is so that we can comfort others who are going through similar sufferings with the comfort we received from the Lord in our sufferings. But please understand that this word “comfort” means “encouragement, exhortation, a summons, and a holy urging to motivate believers in Jesus to carry out God’s plan for their lives. So this can also include giving warnings, too.
[Rom 5:3-5; Phil 3:7-11; 1 Pet 1:6-7; 1 Pet 4:12-17; 1 Thess 3:1-5; Jas 1:2-4; Matt 5:10-12; Lu 21:12-19; 2 Co 1:3-11; Heb 12:3-12; Jn 15:1-11]
So, we are to rejoice and be glad, not because we love pain and suffering, but because God is doing a work in our hearts and lives which is for our good and which is for the good of others who observe us and how we respond to our suffering, too. And right now my husband and I are going through a trial with regard to our apartment complex, and so I have an opportunity here to put what I am writing into practice.
When Paul suffered, oft it served to encourage others to be more bold in their witness for Christ and it actually served to advance the gospel, and many more people were saved because of it.
Footprints of Jesus
Lyrics by Mary B. Slade, pub. 1871
Music by Asa B. Everett
Sweetly, Lord, have we heard Thee calling,
Come, follow Me!
And we see where Thy footprints falling
Lead us to Thee.
Though they lead o’er the cold, dark mountains,
Seeking His sheep;
Or along by Siloam’s fountains,
Helping the weak.
If they lead through the temple holy,
Preaching the Word;
Or in homes of the poor and lowly,
Serving the Lord.
If Thy way and its sorrows bearing,
We go again,
Up the slope of the hillside, bearing
Our cross of pain.
Then, at last, when on high He sees us,
Our journey done,
We will rest where the steps of Jesus
End at His throne.
Footprints of Jesus,
That make the pathway glow;
We will follow the steps of Jesus
Where’er they go.
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