Sermon on the Mount: Part 5 – Persecution for Righteousness Sake – February 13, 2011
Matthew 5:10-12 – Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. “Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
Matthew 5:10-12 in the Contemporary English Version says – God blesses those people who are treated badly for doing right. They belong to the kingdom of heaven. God will bless you when people insult you, mistreat you, and tell all kinds of evil lies about you because of me. Be happy and excited! You will have a great reward in heaven. People did these same things to the prophets who lived long ago.
To fully understand this passage we need to define the words used by Jesus:
Persecute – διώκω means to make to run or flee, put to flight, drive away by way of harassment, trouble or molestation. It also means to be mistreated or to suffer persecution on account of something. The idea proposed by this definition is that one individual or a group of people attempt to force another to flee. In our society we have seen a persecution arise against the Christian Church by trying remove Christianity from the public square and the public voice.
Revile – ὀνειδίζω – to reproach, upbraid, revile – It can mean both deserved and undeserved reproach. In this case they are taking this action in a face-to-face means as opposed behind one’s back. The meaning here is to voice a complaint against. In other words the persecutor complains and makes up false accusations against the one being persecuted.
Utter all kinds of evil – evils here is πονηρός which means full of labors, annoyances, hardships e.g. pressed and harassed by labors. The word relates to a full time of peril to the Christian faith and steadfastness. In a physical sense this word relates to blindness but in an ethical sense it means evil, wicked or bad. The root word here means to have great trouble or intense desire. The word can mean human cruelty or that which causes trouble and brings sorrow. It is speech that brings disaster.
“Because of righteous sake… “It is absolutely necessary that we see that this is persecution, reviling and evil that come from righteousness. There are those in the world who have been persecuted beyond measure for their faith in Christ.
All around the world Christians are being persecuted for no other reason than their faith in Christ.
- Pastor AK Paul – Beaten almost to death and left for dead but God spared his life. He converted from Hinduism and was attacked by the village leaders for doing so. He was disowned by his family and was banned from their village.
- Pastor Francisco in Guatemala had acid poured into his eye so that he would remember where he came from. This was because he had converted to Christianity and left the drug cartel that he had been with. It was a miracle because the intent was to kill him by a slow death.
- Iran – More than 70 Christians have been arrested
- Afghanistan – Man to be sentenced to 20 years in prison if he does not denounce Christ
- Somalia – 17 year old girl who converted to Christianity from Islam was shot to death in
- Laos – Pastor Wanna and 10 other Christians were arrested for meeting in his home for worship
Watch this video with me: http://video.christianpost.com/20091024/international-day-of-prayer-for-the-persecuted-church-video/ Follow this link to watch the video.
Would you take a moment and pray for those who are being persecuted around the world.
While there is a real persecution that is taking place around the world I must make a statement that is critical to understanding God’s purpose in this passage. Notice that blessing does not come from being foolish, careless, or sinful. He said blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake. God’s blessing comes from doing the right thing and still being persecuted. This principle is addressed by Peter when he stated
Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed. If you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you. But let none of you suffer as a murderer or a thief or an evildoer or as a meddler. Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in that name. 1 Peter 4:12-16
The fact is there will be times where we are persecuted for doing the right thing and at times for nothing more than taking a stand for christ. So, when we are persecuted for righteousness sake we must:
Pray for those that despitefully use you
Luke 6:28 Bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you.
Show God’s love regardless of what happens
Trust God in everything
Remember that our goal is heaven and not earth