Happy are the Persecuted? 010915

Matt 5:10-11: 10 “Blessed (happy) are you who are persecuted for righteousness sake.”  First, what does that mean?  Condemned for being good?  Condemned for being Godly?  I don’t know for sure, but it sounds like God is saying, “You are approved by me if you allow yourself to be talked bad about, without saying anything back; without cursing the people who persecute you; being willing to turn the other cheek, to walk the mile (and the extra mile); to give up your coat and your cape.”   It definitely says something about your attitude if you put up with being persecuted for doing and being good; and that attitude is all about humble, loving and forgiving.

11 “Blessed (happy) are you when men shall revile you and persecute you, and say all manner of evil against you falsely, for My sake, . . . .”  I don’t know why, but every time I read this verse I think about the martyrs, who were burned at the stake, or stoned to death, or thrown to the lions, or tortured in the Inquisitions.  In Hebrews 11:37-38, it even talks about people who: “They went about in sheepskins and goatskins, destitute, persecuted and mistreated— the world was not worthy of them.”  And I always think of that story about the stoning of Stephen, where he is in the middle of being stoned to death, and he says, “Lord, do not charge them with this sin.” How’s that for an attitude?  It’s nothing if it’s not humble and forgiving.  Whew!  Just a regular man, like me and you, and he thought so little of himself that he could pray for his attackers, at a time like that.  What a witness and a glory to God!

Regular old normal worldly men and women just can’t do what Stephen did.  They just don’t have it in them.  But when you’ve surrendered your whole self to God like Stephen, then God fills you up with Himself, with the Spirit of the Living God.  THEN you can be blessed (happy) when you’re persecuted for doing and being good.  You can be so ‘one with Jesus’ that you are able to be the kind of witness that Stephen was, no matter what is going on around you.

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