Grace For The Journey
I want to close out this long running discussion on the eighth Beatitude with why we rejoice when we are persecuted for the proper reasons.
First, it is a sign that we are Christian. Jesus says at the end of Matthew 7, verse 12b that we are to rejoice because the world persecuted the prophets before us. That means we are on the same side as the prophets who lived before us and, in essence, are on the side of God who sent the prophets. Persecution is a badge of honor placing you in the company of the prophets who were approved and blessed by God.
Second, we rejoice when we are persecuted because an eternal reward is promised. In verse 12a Jesus says, “Rejoice and be glad, for your reward i great in heaven…” The reward promised to the persecuted for Christ is “great,” Jesus says. The original Greek word translated as “great” in our English Bible is a word that describes “the upper range or scale of extent.” Today “great” is a term used to described almost anything from a movie, to a meal, to a basketball score. But the word Matthew chose to convey the magnificent extent of reward is the same word Luke used in Luke 7 to describe the love the unnamed woman who washed the feet of Jesus with her tears and dried them with her hair had for Him. We rejoice in persecution because we will receive the full extent of His love and grace.
Third, we rejoice in the privilege we have been given to be counted as a friend of Jesus and an adopted child of God. The Bible says this in Romans 8:18, “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.” There is no amount of suffering in this world that can compare to the eternal joy of our lives with Christ in God’s eternal kingdom that awaits us.
The persecution of the world against
The children of God will come.
But God ordains just what, when, how,
And how long that persecution
Will be for each of us.
Furthermore, He has given us His Spirit to be with us in and through the persecution so that we can stand. The Bible says in 2 Corinthians 4:16-18, which words used by God to encourage the believers in Corinth through their trials, and they are the words we need to hear and hold as well. Those verses says, “So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.”
Be glad and rejoice in the persecution that you face because . . .
- It means you are honoring Christ by living a life that is seen as righteous by an unrighteous world.
- It means that you are working out your salvation with fear and trembling which the Bible encourages us to do in Philippians 2.
This “working out” is allowing the Holy Spirit to conform our lives and actions to the image of Christ. The “fear and trembling”’ is the awe, respect, and amazement at the power and glory of God that causes us to truly work hard at putting off our old self and putting on the new self we have in Christ Jesus so we can live for Him and be His witnesses. And when you do that, the world will see Christ in you, and you will be persecuted.
This is God’s Word For Today … This Is Grace For The Journey
Rest and Rejoice in this eternal truth!
Ephesians 4:7 – “But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it.”
Hebrews 4:16 – “Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”