Matthew 5:10-12

Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when people 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 in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.” Matthew 5:10-12

This is a dangerous passage. It is far easier to misunderstand and misuse this teaching than to take it to heart as the word of encouragement it is intended to be.

We misunderstand the passage if we abuse the word “persecute”. I realize there are strident voices in the Christian world in our culture who constantly point out instances where they see “the Christian faith under attack.” From the color of Starbucks coffee cups to selling a wedding cake to a gay couple to what health insurance covers to how astronomy and archeology are taught in schools, these voices claim they are being “persecuted for their faith.”

That ain’t persecution.

Persecution is what happens when you are a Christian in a corner of the world where you risk being killed for your faith. Where your faith means you forfeit opportunities for an education or advancing in your job. That happens. Every day. And to such people come these words of Jesus. Theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Similarly, just because you believe that people “revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you” doesn’t mean that you are right and they are wrong. Those next words matter, “falsely on my account.” Humility means that, should we come across people who treat us in such a manner, that we take a moment to wonder whether or not they have a point.

It has become a cliché because it is so true – life is hard and nowhere does Jesus promise to make life easy for those who surrender their lives to his will and rest in his promises.

Jesus realizes that he stands in a long line of people who have been rejected and abused because of their singular focus on what it means to live in God’s will in the face of a world bent on doing its own thing. In this passage, he welcomes us into that long line with the promise that the built in reward is not earthly success or popularity but the simple promise of God’s presence. We’re in good company.

Let us pray: Dear Lord, keep us mindful of what it means for us, on a daily basis, to stand up for what we believe to be true, loving, helpful, and just – even in the face of criticism, rejection, or cruelty. Guard us against thinking ourselves victims by giving us the humility to recognize where we might be wrong. In Jesus’ name. Amen.


3 Responses to “Matthew 5:10-12”

  1. Charles North Says:

    Matt 11 v 28+

  2. Dave Armstrong Says:

    I like the direction of this devotion. While we are not under life and death attack in this country, Christianity in general is under attack. I think that Christians need to stand up and be counted on all issues that run contrary to God’s teachings as detailed in both the OT and NT. Romans 14:22 reminds us not to condemn ourselves by what we approve. We live in challenging times and we all need to keep our heart and soul focused on the sermon on the mount teachings of Christ. I am so happy that you are back with the daily devotions. Congratulations on losing 120 pounds.

  3. Carolee Groux Says:

    We should be grateful that we can practice our faith without threat of persecution. May we be ever vigilant in safeguarding this freedom. And may we approach others with a humble spirit, trusting the Lord in all things.

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