Blessed are those that are persecuted

(Mat 5:10-12 NIV)  Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. {11} “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. {12} Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

Rejoice because rewards that await us

(Rom 8:18 NIV)  I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.

(Luke 6:22-23 NIV)  Blessed are you when men hate you, when they exclude you and insult you and reject your name as evil, because of the Son of Man. {23} “Rejoice in that day and leap for joy, because great is your reward in heaven. For that is how their fathers treated the prophets.

When we tell others about Jesus, it is sometimes not easy. Some of them will receive it graciously; others may react in a hostile manner. When that kind of thing happen to us, the natural reaction is to despair. But we are told to do the exact opposite. That is to rejoice. Luke 6:23 even says leap for joy. What kind of event in life will cause you to leap for joy? Many events will cause us to be happy but not enough to leap for joy. Yet we are told to be that happy when we are persecuted. If we are to leap for joy, it must be because the rewards are exceeding great (Mt 6:23).

So the next time you are persecuted, do not concentrate on the current misery, concentrate on the rewards and you will be able to leap for joy.

Rejoice because our efforts will bear fruit

(Rom 8:36 NIV)  As it is written: “For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.”

If Paul did not permit himself to be persecuted, if he had given up half way, many people would not have come to know about the saving grace of Jesus.

If you are persecuted, remember that it is because you love someone enough to bear it. You want that person to hear of God and His righteousness.

Rejoice because the persecution strengthens us

(James 1:2-3 NIV)  Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, {3} because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance.

Persecution also has an immediate benefit. When we are tested, we develop perseverance. How easy it is to continue doing something that is enjoyable? But it takes great strength and perseverance to continue with something that is not.

When we continue to do good despite persecution, we develop perseverance.

Persecution draws us closer to God

(2 Cor 12:10 NIV)  That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

When things are doing well, we are seldom close to God. It is just human nature. We cry out to God when we really need Him.

Persecution has that effect on us. When we are suffering, and not even for evil but for good, we come to a point when we really cry out to God. And we draw close to Him.

Rejoice because God will not allow us to be destroyed

(2 Cor 4:8-9 NIV)  We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; {9} persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.

(Phil 1:28 NIV)  without being frightened in any way by those who oppose you. This is a sign to them that they will be destroyed, but that you will be saved–and that by God.

(2 Tim 3:11 NIV)  persecutions, sufferings–what kinds of things happened to me in Antioch, Iconium and Lystra, the persecutions I endured. Yet the Lord rescued me from all of them.

We can rejoice in the midst of persecution because we know that God will not allow us to be destroyed. Even if the persecution results in death, only our physically bodies will be destroyed.

Rejoice because God can use the persecution to accomplish His purpose

(Phil 1:12 NIV)  Now I want you to know, brothers, that what has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel.

Acts 11:19,20 Meanwhile, the believers who had fled from Jerusalem during the persecution after Stephen’s death traveled as far as Phoenicia, Cyprus, and Antioch of Syria. ….. some of the believers who went to Antioch from Cyprus and Cyrene began preaching to Gentiles about the Lord Jesus. 21The power of the Lord was upon them, and large numbers of these Gentiles believed and turned to the Lord.

When the believers were fleeing from persecution, they probably thought that their evangelistic efforts were finished. That was probably what the devil thought as well. Satan thought he was winning. But God had other things in mind. God could use this “bad” situation for His purpose. When the believers fled, the gospel spread even more as they brought their gospel with them.

Is your evangelistic effort coming up against a wall? Perhaps you have encountered great obstacles trying to reach out to someone. Are your church’s evangelistic effort meeting bad situations? Perhaps your missionaries are persecuted. Perhaps the countries you are going to are getting more restrictive. Ask God to turn the situation around. He has done that in the past and He will do it again.

Our attitude towards those who persecute us

(Rom 12:14 NIV)  Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse.

Think of someone who has persecuted or is persecuting you. Do you feel anger towards that person?

Again the Bible tells us to do something totally opposite to what the world would do. We are to bless them. Some religions will even tell you to strike back.

Perhaps the Palestinians are persecuted by the Jews. It is true that many of them are suffering. But what is their reaction? Many Muslim terrorists strike out in anger. How different is the reaction of our Lord Jesus. It clearly demonstrates that His teachings are from God and not from this world.

Persecuted for teaching God’s word

When we think about persecution, we usually think about the times when we tell non-believers about Jesus and they react harshly towards us. This is not always the case. We can be persecuted because of righteousness. We can be telling our Christian friends about God’s ways and they persecute us.

When something like that happens, we should not be dismay. We should be able to rejoice because of what we have learned about persecution earlier.