Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Matthew 5:10

"Blessed are those who have been persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven."

Have you ever had your well-intentioned attempt to present the truth to someone else backfire?  Have you ever been rebuked for being too narrow minded or insensitive because you took a stand for the Word of God?  Perhaps you may have even gotten in trouble with your employer because you brought Scripture into a conversation at lunch, or allowed your Biblical worldview to govern your thinking about a particular matter.  The world around us is hostile toward Scripture and therefore is hostile toward anyone who espouses It as absolute truth.  The history of the church is filled with those who have sacrificed their freedom, their health, and even their very lives for the sake of the Gospel. Jesus was mindful of these loyal disciples when He made this statement in Matthew 5:10.  However, He was not only speaking about those who would be physically persecuted, but those of us who are socially persecuted for the sake of the Gospel as well.  Jesus made it clear that we should view this persecution as a blessing, for it provide us with further opportunity to glorify God.

Paul was mindful of this fact in his second letter to Timothy when he said: "For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires, and will turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside to myths" (2 Timothy 4:3-4).  Paul went on to explain how we are to handle this type of hostile environment: "But you, be sober in all things, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry" (2 Timothy 4:5). Paul was consumed with his call to proclaim the truth of God's Word.  He looked at every hardship that was brought about because of his stand for the truth as blessing, because God was being glorified.  While in prison, Paul spoke these words to the Philippians: "For to you it has been granted for Christ’s sake, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake" (Philippians 1:29). This is how we are to view the hostility that greets us when we proclaim the Truth. 

Be an imitator of Paul by removing your fear of hostility and social estrangement from your thinking.  Don't let fear prevent you from being open about your relationship with Christ and your desire to see others have that same relationship.   "Preach the Word, be ready in season and out of season....." (2 Timothy 4:2a) and remember - we are out of season.  Change your fear of social backlash into rejoicing in the opportunity God has given you to deliver the greatest news of all!  Joyously tell others that Jesus Christ paid the penalty they could not pay and if they believe that He did they will immediately enter a personal and eternal relationship with God and their eternal future will be secure.  This attitude will enable you to draw nearer to God.

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