The Beatitudes are divine blessings pronounced on those of godly character. These attributes are required for those who wish to enter the kingdom of heaven. The eighth and final of these blessings is prescribed for “the persecuted.” Matthew 5:10 NKJV Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, For theirs is the kingdom of heaven. What form does persecution take and how may the godly endure it?
Unlike the previous Beatitudes, Jesus goes on to elaborate. Matthew 5:11 NKJV Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake. Persecution is not the hardship that comes from the normal course of life events. Rather, persecution is hardship that is directly precipitated because one is godly.
Two factors are at play when it comes to suffering for any cause. The first is perceived value and the second factor is fear. Moses forsook the treasures of Egypt in favor of a spiritual reward. Hebrews 11:24-26 NKJV By faith Moses, when he became of age, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God than to enjoy the passing pleasures of sin, esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt; for he looked to the reward.
The Apostle Paul was similarly motivated. He also forfeited the prestige of his position to suffer for Christ. Philippians 3:7-12 NKJV But what things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ. Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in Him, not having my own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith; that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death, if, by any means, I may attain to the resurrection from the dead. Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me.
The eternal is always of infinite value compared to the temporal. However, overcoming fear is not as simple as determining value. Overcoming fear comes down to faith. Do I truly believe that eternal spiritual life is of infinite value compared to my temporal life? Do I truly believe that suffering for an eternal cause is more worthy than suffering for a temporal one? God assures us that even this is true. 1 Peter 3:13-17 NKJV And who is he who will harm you if you become followers of what is good? But even if you should suffer for righteousness’ sake, you are blessed. “And do not be afraid of their threats, nor be troubled.” But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear; having a good conscience, that when they defame you as evildoers, those who revile your good conduct in Christ may be ashamed. For it is better, if it is the will of God, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil.
Why should I value the spiritual over the temporal? I should because that’s exactly how God values me. Sadly, most people do not value the spiritual. Jesus informed His disciples of these truths from the start. Matthew 10:22-33 NKJV “And you will be hated by all for My name’s sake. But he who endures to the end will be saved. “When they persecute you in this city, flee to another. For assuredly, I say to you, you will not have gone through the cities of Israel before the Son of Man comes. “A disciple is not above his teacher, nor a servant above his master. “It is enough for a disciple that he be like his teacher, and a servant like his master. If they have called the master of the house Beelzebub, how much more will they call those of his household! “Therefore do not fear them. For there is nothing covered that will not be revealed, and hidden that will not be known. “Whatever I tell you in the dark, speak in the light; and what you hear in the ear, preach on the housetops. “And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. But rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell. “Are not two sparrows sold for a copper coin? And not one of them falls to the ground apart from your Father’s will. “But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. “Do not fear therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows. “Therefore whoever confesses Me before men, him I will also confess before My Father who is in heaven. “But whoever denies Me before men, him I will also deny before My Father who is in heaven.
Do you value your soul as God does? Are you willing to suffer to prove it? Do so and rejoice. Matthew 5:12 NKJV “Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.