“Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.”
If we were asked to list several attributes or characteristics of THE BLESSED MAN, persecution probably would not be included on our list. Persecution, in the mind of the average Christian, would not be considered a blessing. Yet in our text, Jesus says those who are “persecuted for righteousness’ sake” are blessed. He then describes several ways that persecution might come to us. God definitely promises to bless those who are faithful to His name and to His cause. There will be a special reward in “the kingdom of heaven” for those who are “persecuted.”
We do not like to be criticized or slandered. It hurts when others “say all manner of evil against you falsely, for [Jesus’] sake.” However, anyone who has felt the pain of verbal attacks and knows the damage that backbiting and gossip can bring, can find encouragement in these words. God’s Word says that the victims of such treatment will be blessed.
What are we to do when we are persecuted? Our text tells us that we are to “rejoice, and be exceeding glad.” How is that possible? Two reasons are given that will help us have the right attitude when we are persecuted. We can rejoice because our persecution puts us in the same company as the great prophets who preceded us. Those who have honored God and stood for the truth have always been the objects of persecution. Cain persecuted and killed Abel because Abel’s sacrifice was acceptable to God. Stephen was persecuted for preaching the truth. John the Baptist was persecuted for his stand for righteousness. Jeremiah was persecuted for being bold and renouncing the lies of false prophets. Daniel was persecuted for his commitment to pray. When we face persecution, we are in good company.
There is another thing that helps us rejoice when persecution comes. Jesus said, “great is your reward in heaven.” Through the pain of persecution, we can rejoice in knowing that God will greatly reward us one day.