25th June 2011

Rejoice And Be Glad

The last in the series on The Beatitudes

“Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven”
Matthew 5:10 (NIV)

All of Matthew 5:3-10 actually best describes Jesus himself, and this last statement not least. Jesus was entirely righteous—and he received the biggest persecution, the ultimate rejection—and it is his kingdom to share.

There are more Biblical examples than I can count, of persecution because of loyalty to God. Prophets like Jeremiah were humiliated and endangered; laws were made to get people like Daniel into trouble; religious authorities threw people out of synagogues for believing in Jesus’ healing; and early Christians like Stephen could be martyred.

In a country that claims freedom of religion, you may not have experienced any direct, measurable loss or disadvantage because of your faith, but in some parts of the world being a Christian can cost you dearly. Whatever your social and political situation, the general rule is that “In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted” (2 Timothy 3:12).

I listened, once, to someone trying to count up what losses he had sustained in following God. It seems to me that any such calculation on our part is going to end up as a reckoning of what God owes us, and God doesn’t work that way. In true submission—in genuine sacrifice—the value of what is laid down is fully relinquished and gone forever (Philippians 3:7-9).

And yet God keeps his own kind of record of what has been accomplished within you in the way of trust and loyalty to him. As Jesus continued on after the Beatitudes, “Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven” when your walk with him takes you through insult, trouble and persecution. (Matthew 5:12)

I pray for the Christians who suffer intense persecution and danger in their own countries, and for the loyalty of all of us to Jesus.

Study by Fiona Jones

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