This is the eighth and last beatitude, and the one that really caps off all of them. That is, it brings a result to all of them and helps us to face the world with strength and hope. Verse 10 (of Matthew 5) is the main part of beatitude, and then verses 11 and 12 seem to be an extension of it. We will focus on the main part in this blog. Here are four points.
What kind of persecution is the Christian blessed for?
The answer is plain. It must be a persecution for righteousness sake. He will be blessed by God for being righteous—like Jesus.
There are other reasons one may be persecuted, but none of them will be rewarded with a blessing by God. For instance, one may be persecuted for a lack of wisdom. Secondly, one may be over-zealous in his Christianity and he may be criticized for it—rightly. Or one may be persecuted for a political cause, or for a social cause. And some causes are very good. But if your cause is not for righteousness sake, the blessing here will not cover you.
Why Christians are persecuted
What I want to do here is to take a look at the nature of persecution so that we understand better why someone will persecute another. Here are two basic reasons.
- Christians are persecuted because they are different. It is only natural for people to feel uncomfortable with people who are different than they are, especially if they appear to be better or happier than they are. So when they see this in others, they get jealous of them and feel put down by them. So they strike out at them.
- More basically, it has to do with light and darkness. A true Christian is full of light because Jesus is light. Since light exposes the darkness (and sin), all who live in darkness hate the light (and those Christians who live in the light). Hence, a non-Christian naturally hates a Christian just as he, or she, hates Jesus.
Who are the persecutors?
You may be surprised by this, but not only non-Christians are the persecutors. Even Christians will sometimes persecute another Christian. Why? Because not all Christians are living in the light. If a Christian is holding on to certain sins, knowingly or unknowingly, this may be a great hindrance to fellowship, and therefore, bitterness and fighting may result.
What is the blessed results of persecution?
First of all, when we are persecuted, it will tend to unite us with Jesus and with other believers—especially with those who have also been persecuted.
Secondly, our persecution will become a sign that we are truly a Christian, thus it will give us great assurance that we are united with Christ and the body of Christ.
A third blessing is our great hope of future rewards in heaven. This is part of the subject of my next blog.