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.