Is everybody saying nice things about you? Well, if so, I feel so sorry for you! We’re working our way through what are referred to as the beatitudes. At the beginning of the Sermon of the Mount, Jesus tells us who are the blessed people. And there’s only one kind of blessed person, the person who’s on the road to eternal life.
The very first beatitude was, “Blessed are the poor in spirit for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven.” In today’s beatitude, which we’re now at the bottom of this list, actually makes the same exact promise. Theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven. So who are these people that get the same blessing as the people who are poor in spirit?
Well, they are according to Jesus in Matthew Chapter 5 in verse number 10, “Blessed are those who have been persecuted for the sake of righteousness for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven.”
So you see these are not unique beatitudes for uniquely different people. It’s all talking about the one kind of person who’s blessed. The person who’s poor in spirit, theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven and the person who is persecuted for the sake of righteousness, theirs also is the Kingdom of Heaven. And it’s not either or, it’s both. If you’re a blessed person, you’re poor in spirit, and you’re pure in heart, and you’re gentle, and you’re merciful, and et cetera, et cetera, and you’re also persecuted for the sake of righteousness.
Now, before we can go and elaborate on that, I want to just give just a word of caution. Jesus said, “Blessed are those who are persecuted for the sake of righteousness,” not, “Blessed are those who are persecuted for the sake of their weird doctrine.” And I say that for a reason. Every so often someone will write to me with their weird doctrine. And what makes a doctrine weird? It doesn’t agree with the majority of the Bible. Oh, yes, it might fit into your one scripture, or you might even have found two or three, but yet your interpretation totally ignores the rest of the Bible and so it’s a weird interpretation.
So I sometimes engage in conversations with people and I show them why I don’t agree with them. Then they write back and say, “Well, yeah, you’re like everybody else. I get so persecuted for this.” As if that proves your right because you’re getting persecuted. Now, you’re not getting persecuted, you’re getting corrected by people who are smarter than you. That’s what’s happening. Okay? You’re not being persecuted and that’s not what Jesus was talking about here.
Persecuted for righteousness. That is you’re doing the right thing, the moral thing. You’re obeying God’s commandments and other people who are unrighteous don’t like that, and so to some degree or the other they’re persecuting you.
Now, persecution comes in many forms, and fashions, and to varying degrees. I happen to live in the United States and we are guaranteed freedom of religion here. And I’m so thankful for that because there are countries that don’t guarantee the freedom of religion. They have a state established religion and if you don’t follow the state religion, well, you’re not just going to get persecuted, you’re going to get prosecuted because you’re breaking the law.
Well, let me just go on record in saying that no nation worth it’s salt should have a state established religion. Why? Because it’s a God given natural right to have freedom of religion. Yes, God gave everyone the right to choose whether they’re going to believe in him or not believe in him and everything in between.
You could believe in a banana as God if you want. God gives you that right. It’s stupid, you’re stupid, but God gives you that right to believe a banana is your God. Okay. So any state that establishes religion, you’re not with God’s program. You need to change that.
All right. Now, some countries of course where there’s a state religion or there’s a strong majority that have a certain religion and it’s not Christianity, so, it’s just religion. Ugh. People pretending to be what they are not. That’s what religion is. People pretending to be what they are not. You’ve got this thin veneer of something but inside you’re just full of dead man’s bones.
Just like Jesus said to the Pharisees. They had religion. He called them white washed tombs. Oh, you look so nice on the outside. But on the inside you stink. And that’s true of every kind of … If you’re a Christian religious person, you’re no different than any other religious person. You stink on the inside. And you can’t fool God and you’re probably just fooling yourself. And you can tell what’s inside people when you just dig a little bit.
So, not all persecution is martyrdom, or imprisonment, or severe type stuff. Because look at what Jesus said in the very next verse, verse number 11. Here’s the most common type of persecution. And this is what everybody who believes in Jesus gets to some degree or another. “Blessed are you when people insult you, and persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me.”
So, that’s the most common persecution. You’ve got to get at least that. You’re blessed if you got that. Why? Because that shows that you’re a believer on Jesus because you’re following his commandments, people notice it and the unrighteous people don’t like. And so they say things about you. Hallelujah.
So that’s why Jesus said in the very next verse. “Rejoice and be glad,” because it shows you’re amongst the blessed, “for your reward in heaven is great.” So, God’s keeping track, I guess, of all those insults and evil things they say and he’s just marking it down and saying, “Well, I’m sorry about that you have to put up with that. But I’m going to make it up to you because I love you. I don’t like it when people say bad things about my kids. And I’m going to make it up to you.” And so, you’re going to get a reward in heaven for every insult. Praise the Lord.
“For in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.” And he’s already, you see, honing in here in the Sermon on the Mount on some people that everybody in his audience was familiar with. Who am I talking about? The religious dudes. The Scribes and the Pharisees.
And you maybe haven’t noticed it but there already are the subtle digs against the religious guys. And then Jesus is going to let it out full force in just a few moments in this sermon when he says all the Scribes and Pharisees are going to hell. We’ll read that.
Okay. So, as I started off, if everyone’s saying nice things about you, I feel so sorry for you. In fact, Jesus said that, again, “Whoa to you if all men speak well of you.” So, make sure that some people hate you. Not for good reason but for no good reason because you’re good, and you’re righteous, and you’re following Jesus. Praise God.
Thank you for joining me on today’s Little Lesson. It’s good to be with you. God bless you.