By: Undre Griggs, Jr.
As we have explored the ways to be blessed by God, we close the same way Jesus closes – by repeating his man-point.
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.
Christians should look at the opportunity to be persecuted as an occasion to be one with Christ. To live a life that forces others to mischaracterize and coordinate their attempts to slander you is an honor. This tactic is saved for the righteous, and was even used on Jesus Himself. It is important to understand this is often a last resort. Most of the time, the world is going to attempt to get you to join them in their foolishness. It is not until you reject all forms of evil, that the world feels compelled to lie about you. Jesus does not want us to be discouraged when this happens, but encouraged. To live a true and faithful life devoted to Christ, obeying His commands, and sharing the Gospel is a reward within itself; but we are promised so much more.
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.
Jesus continues His theme of re-centering our focus on the heavenly kingdom. There is nothing on this earth that we should be willing to lose our soul over. This includes our relationships, careers, family and wealth. If the choice is between being faithful to Christ or being faithful to something else, we should always choose Christ. As a husband and father of four children, this is not easy for me say, but I know it is true. Christians are expected to love God more than they love anyone or anything else.
Romans 12:9-13 (ESV): Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord. Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality.
Honoring Christ is sometimes going to cause us internal conflict, as well as external persecution; but the reward of heaven is our shining light through the darkness. The worst mistake a Christian can make is to assume he or she can correct an issue with the world by prioritizing it over Christ. The apostle Paul makes it clear; he is not concerned about any trails on earth, because they pale in comparison to the reward of heaven. Live a faithful life, share the Gospel, put Christ first, and your example may be exactly what you need to change the difficult circumstances in your life.
By: Undre Griggs, Jr.
It may not always appear to be a blessing to have to endure rough times, but Jesus wants us to understand it is. Like each of the blessings we have discussed over the past several weeks, this blessing is here on earth and in heaven.
Matthew 5:10 (ESV): Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Reflect on the life of Jesus Christ. He lived a humble life devoted to healing the sick and teaching the lost. Jesus was consistent and unapologetic in his message. He called out the atrocities of the rich and poor, the powerful and meek, as well as the popular and the disliked. By living a life of righteousness, when Jesus was put to death on the cross, everyone knew He was innocent. Along with His burial and resurrection, the fact Jesus lived a sinless and selfless life is powerful. We may not be able to live a sinless life, but if we can live a Christ centered life that creates hardship for us, people will know we are innocent. Consider how you felt when you heard a story of someone released from prison after a wrongful conviction was overturned. You think about the years of their life they lost, how you would have felt if you were in that situation, and wonder how something like this could happen. The answer to the last question may vary, but it ultimately leads to sharing the Gospel. If the only reason you are being persecuted is because you are a Christian, even an unbeliever understands that is wrong. They may not know why you are holding fast to your faith, but they know it means more to you than your well-being. There is no greater proclamation of your faith in the return of Jesus Christ than for you to make decisions based purely on your salvation.
Hebrews 11:6 (ESV): And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.
Understanding the commitment required to remain faithful, Jesus makes it clear the reward is entry into the kingdom of heaven. The apostle Paul says, he does not consider his suffering when making decisions because they pale in comparison to his reward in heaven (Romans 8:18). In a world where people are focused on amassing wealth and instant gratification, having an eternal mindset makes your testimony influential. Stay true to the faith, understanding if you suffer for the faith, your reward will be greater than anything you may have lost on earth. And more importantly, the testimony of your steadfast faith while suffering may help bring a lost soul to Christ.
By: Undre Griggs, Jr
You ever think what it takes to be a peacemaker? When you do, you start to appreciate and understand why peacemakers are blessed.
Matthew 5:9 (ESV): “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.
The peacemakers play an active role in making peace with others. They are forgiving, kind, and gentle with the ungrateful and deplorable. When you can consider others greater than yourself, you will find it easier to forgive and treat others with kindness. The peacemakers have the ability to look someone filled with bitterness, envy, and anger in the face and tell them - you are my brethren.
Luke 6:27-31 (ESV): “But I say to you who hear, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you. To one who strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also, and from one who takes away your cloak do not withhold your tunic either. Give to everyone who begs from you, and from one who takes away your goods do not demand them back. And as you wish that others would do to you, do so to them.
To be at peace, requires a willingness to show mercy to others. I often think of this like gang violence. Retaliating against someone who wronged you will only create more violence. Reason being, as soon as one gang retaliates, the other now believes it has the right to retaliate. The only way for violence to end is for someone to decide he or she will not retaliate. When you do not blow your horn when someone cuts you off, the chance of road-rage occurring is eliminated. Like the other blessings we discussed in previous weeks, they have a heavenly and an earthly component.
Luke 6:35-36 (ESV): But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, for he is kind to the ungrateful and the evil. Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful.
Jesus reiterates the ability to be a peacemaker, to show mercy to the ungrateful and evil will entitle you to the honor of being a son of the Most High. We are empowered to be merciful with others because God is merciful with us. We are ungrateful and evil in our right. We all share the responsibly that required Jesus to die on the cross. It is His death and resurrection, His example, and the Father’s mercy that provides us the opportunity to be sons of the Most High. As much as it depends on you, make sure you are maker of peace with all: the evil and the righteous, the grateful and the ungrateful, as well as the benevolent and the vindictive. Not because you are condoning their actions, but because your kindness and obedience to the will of God may save their soul.
By: Undre Griggs, Jr.
When the Bible is speaking of a pure heart, it is frequently speaking of our intentions, desires, and character. When we make decisions, what is our motivation? Are we coming from a place of wanting to help others, or are we seeking personal gain?
Matthew 5:8 (ESV): “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.”
Having been baptized for the remission of sin, the pure in heart live a life in service to Jesus Christ. They serve Him by obeying His commands and serving others in need. They do not love solely in word, but by intentionally living a life of service. The pure in heart see opportunities to help, and feel compelled to do so. This does not need to be in extravagant ways. It can be giving someone a ride to the school, helping someone move, or offering to buy someone’s lunch.
1 Peter 1:22-23 (ESV): Having purified your souls by your obedience to the truth for a sincere brotherly love, love one another earnestly from a pure heart, since you have been born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God;
Those who are willing to live the life of a pure heart will be rejoined with Jesus on the Last Day. As children of God, we are to be like Jesus. We should esteem others greater than ourselves, follow the will of Jehovah, and treat others as we want to be treated.
1 John 3:2 (ESV): Beloved, now are we children of God, and it is not yet made manifest what we shall be. We know that, if he shall be manifested, we shall be like him; for we shall see him even as he is.
There is no greater blessing than the promise to see God. If we find it difficult to live a pure life, the promise to seeing God should motivate us to continue. The apostle Paul warns us not to grow weary in doing good, and it is with good reason. Putting the needs of others before your own is difficult in a world full of evil. But to change the world, we cannot do what the world does. We must live the life of Christ, being a light in the darkness.