November 27:     Persecution- A Pathway to Blessing

By Bassey Ekong
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“Blessed are you when people revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you” (Matt. 5:11-12).

Christians in the workplace may be subjected to active, even severe persecution by people who benefit or believe they benefit from injustice there. If you speak up for or merely befriend people who are victims of gossip and discrimination in your workplace, community or society, you should expect persecution. In short, as you follow God’s precepts and commands and the ordinance of love; to love the weak, the poor, widows/widowers, orphans, minorities and the lowly placed people in our society, we will certainly be subjected to hatred and persecution. The blessing is that active persecution for the right reasons indicates that the powers of darkness believe you are succeeding in furthering God's kingdom.

The eighth beatitude serves as a reminder to us that working in a fallen world requires courage, perseverance, walking and working with God and the gates of hell will not and cannot prevail against God’s will and mandate for your life.

God is not without sympathy for the difficulties these challenges pose for us, but He calls us blessed, counseling us to "rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven" for rejoicing over persecution, not complaining and looking for who to blame your adversities upon. We should realize we do not earn the reward because we are doing only what we are supposed to do (Luke 17:7-10). But God freely gives the reward; He promises it as His gift for steadfastness, faithfulness and for using His authority to overcome and not be overwhelmed by the negativities in the world around you.

We are to face persecution remembering "that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us" (Romans 8:18). When it comes upon us, we should not retaliate like the world, sulk like a child, lick our wounds like a dog in self-pity, or simply grin and bear it like a masochistic Stoic. Our Savior tells us to rejoice in it because it proves the authenticity of our faith, puts us into a noble succession of towering figures of faith who have preceded us, and guarantees us great reward in the Kingdom of God.

It may also put us into the company of many martyrs exalted in God's Word. Note: Being a true Christian is not like a dress rehearsal, it’s being like Christ and doing everything He has taught us, shown us and commanded us to do if we say we love Him. We just have to live and be like Him (Jesus).

Let’s pray: Lord Jesus, thank You for your faithfulness and steadfastness. You did not leave us in ignorance about all our duties and responsibilities as citizens of your kingdom. Please Lord, give us the grace to heed Your Word and obey Your commandments.

Today’s reading: Ezekiel 30-32; 1 Peter 4

Great People of God Expect and Rejoice in Persecution.