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.Matthew 5:10-11 ESV
Years ago, a recruiter contacted me because he saw my resume online. He called asking me to come in for an interview for a state-of-the-art histology lab in Cleveland–even offering me the salary I desired.
This company pursued me for my skills.
We use the word pursue in many ways. Pursue is one of those words which has a negative or positive meaning.
Matthew 5:10 uses the Hebrew word radaph (pronounced raw-daf’) for persecuted. It means to run after (usually with hostile intent; –chase, put to flight, follow (after, on), hunt, (be under) persecute(-ion, -or), pursue(-r).
As I sit here writing these words my mind is going in many directions as far as where to take this post. I haven’t written much in the hours I have sat in front of this laptop! I feel the Lord taking me in a direction I really didn’t intend to go.
And that direction is the topic of persecution.
Persecution is not too far off in our future. You don’t have to be a prophet to know that.
As I read and re-read related verses these stuck out to me most:
Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, while evil people and impostors will go on from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived.2 Timothy 3:12-13 ESV
If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you.John 15:18 ESV
Remember the word that I said to you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you. If they kept my word, they will also keep yours.John 15:20 ESV
If we’re honest, we recognize the signs of the times. It won’t be long before every sold-out Christian/Jesus-lover will be insulted, falsely accused, and/or persecuted.
In this Beatitude, Jesus said people will persecute us for the sake of righteousness and Him. What does that mean?
I’m sure you understand what Jesus meant.
But, I can’t help but think of another verse right now.
Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name? And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.Matt. 7:21-23 ESV
Why will Jesus say to many, who have cast out demons, prophesied, and done mighty things, “I never knew you”? Because they did not do the will of the Father.
The will of the Father includes being sexually moral and pure. It is holiness. When it comes down to it, the will of the Father is for us to be nothing like the world and everything like Jesus! It is every characteristic Jesus spoke of in the Beatitudes.
When it comes down to it, the will of the Father is for us to be nothing like the world and everything like Jesus! #HappyarethePursued #ThisSideofHeaven #TheBeatitudesTweet
We live in a world where it is not politically correct to talk about Jesus or to tell people they are sinners. If we want, we can find a church and Bible version that suits our worldview. Many claim to be Christians. But are all who claim that title, righteous?
So, what does it mean to be righteous?
In my post on the Beatitude, “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness…” I explained righteousness this way:
Tsedeq [the Hebrew word for righteousness] has the idea that desperate people like those who are starving or dying of thirst will hunt for God’s righteousness or justice as a person would for food and water.Do you Hunger and Thirst for Righteousness?
Here is the way Jeff A. Brenner describes righteousness. But, let me say this first, evil, according to the Hebrew language, is to depart from God’s way–righteousness is the exact opposite.
A righteous person is not one who lives a religiously pious life, [which is] the common interpretation of this word, he is one who follows the correct path, the path (way) of God.https://www.ancient-hebrew.org/definition/righteous.htm
The CORRECT path and way.
Jesus is that way and the Father puts us on the path of His choosing. The only way to be righteous is through the righteousness of Jesus. The only way to know God’s path and to avoid departing from it is to be in the Word.
Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.John 14:6 ESV
Who or what do we love the most? That is who we worship. What is the promise in this Beatitude? The Kingdom of Heaven.
Going back to the title of this post…Why are the pursued/persecuted happy? Because they know Who they belong to. This world will persecute those who stand for God’s truth and ways.
I can’t think of a better verse to demonstrate how Jesus’ disciples lived out this Beatitude.
The apostles left the high council rejoicing that God had counted them worthy to suffer disgrace for the name of Jesus.Acts 5:4 NLT