This is the last article in the series of articles on the Beatitudes. Facing persecution is part of being a faithful Christian. After all, the only perfect Person is the who ever walked the Earth faced persecution from His enemies. Jesus had to deal with enemies trying to trouble Him and stop Him from teaching and preaching the Word. It is no wonder that those who live their lives as faithful children of Christ also face persecution at some point in their lives. Being persecuted by the world can be a very sad and painful experience, but the good news is, a Christian who overcomes persecution without sin will be rewarded.
In Matthew 5:10, Jesus gives the last beatitude in the Sermon on the Mount; “Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness' sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” This verse means that those who are treated wrongly due to making strong stands against sinful behavior will be able to go to Heaven if they persevere. The apostle Paul warns us that we will face persecution if we are faithful to God. “Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution” (II Timothy 3:12). Persecution can come from both Christians and non-Christians. If we are living a faithful Christian life, there are those who will not agree with us or like us just because we are living a faithful Christian life. The sad part is, we will have people who consider themselves Christians, who will not like us just because we do not agree with whatever “pet” sin they do not want to give up. We should not be surprised when this happens. “Marvel not, my brethren, if the world hate you” (I John 3:13).
When we are persecuted for doing what God wants us to do, we should respond with gladness, because we are living our lives like God wants us to do. We should also rejoice in our suffering because much suffering helps us to become more patient in this life. “And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; And patience, experience; and experience, hope: And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us” (Romans 5:3-5). Not only does persecution give us patience which helps us in this life, but we are reminded of how short and temporary this life really is, and that we have a better home awaiting us in Heaven. “But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ's sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy” (I Peter 4:13).
When suffering persecution, it is important to remember to pray earnestly for God to give you comfort and the strength needed to get through the trials being faced. It is also important to remember that being persecuted for Christ’s Sake is different than being mistreated for something wrong that you have done. If you are facing ill treatment for living a sinful life, then you will not be blessed as you go through it. You will only be blessed if you overcome persecution that you face for being a faithful Christian. I Peter 4:14-16 goes on to say, “ If ye be reproached for the name of Christ, happy are ye; for the spirit of glory and of God resteth upon you: on their part he is evil spoken of, but on your part he is glorified. But let none of you suffer as a murderer, or as a thief, or as an evildoer, or as a busybody in other men's matters. Yet if any man suffer as a Christian, let him not be ashamed; but let him glorify God on this behalf.” Let us be thankful that we can suffer for the Cause of Christ for in doing so, we know that the spirit of glory and of God rests upon us and that through persecution, growth and patience results.
We all must work every day to be faithful followers of God, and work to overcome any persecution we may face. All of the problems that we face in this life will be counted as insignificant when we reach our Eternal Home in Heaven! “For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory; While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal” (II Corinthians 4: 17-18).