THURSDAY, JULY 18, 2013
|Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.|
God takes it personally when His people come under attack, just as you would take it personally if someone were to attack your child or your grandchild.
When Saul of Tarsus, the notorious Christian killer, met Jesus on the Damascus Road, he had just presided over the death of Stephen, the first martyr of the church. Not only that, he was on his way to kill more Christians. So what did Jesus say to Saul? “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?” (Acts 9:4).
Notice that He did not say, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting My people?” For Jesus, it was personal. In the same way, when God’s people come under persecution, it is personal to Him. So if you are going through some kind of hardship, if you are being harassed, criticized, or persecuted for your faith in Jesus, be encouraged by that.
At the end of the Beatitudes, Jesus said,
“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 5:10–12)
Jesus used the word “blessed” twice as He spoke about persecution for His sake to emphasize the generous blessing given by God to the persecuted. Jesus was effectively saying, “Double blessed are the persecuted.” The word “blessed” also could be translated “happy.” It’s as though Jesus were saying, “Happy, happy are the persecuted.”
It isn’t so happy when the persecution is taking place. But you can wear it as a badge of honor that someone would attack you because you so faithfully represent Jesus Christ.
Isaiah 32-35; James 2
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Used by permission from Harvest Ministries with Greg Laurie, PO Box 4000, Riverside, CA 92514.