Lesson 10: Blessed Are Those Who Are Persecuted For The Sake Of Righteousness
Matthew 5.10 Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
This next Beatitude seems to cap all the others and flows well into the next Beatitude and the next points in Christ’s sermon: insults, harm and slander ensue because you do things the way Christ does and love people the way He does; rejoice nonetheless because we are sharing God’s Word just as the prophets did and thus being a light to the world, a city haven, and being essential for the earth’s wellbeing.
I’ve seen Christian CEOs in times of stress often publicly shame their employees. Remember I said, most of the problems in a company are in the control and influence of management. Very little is in the control of individual employees. Most employees want to do well and are trying to do well. I once had a conversation with a CEO who said he could not find any good workers. After 45 minutes of trying to convince him otherwise, I resignedly said, “Well, maybe I’ve just been lucky. Ninety-eight percent of my employees have been good workers.” At times, most employees can feel like Balaam’s donkey: trying to help management by avoiding problems and getting beaten for it. Without divine intervention, a lot of management fails to hear or see what conditions led the employees to take certain actions.
In addition, many people don’t understand your motivation if you respond in a different way than they would. If you respond with love, peace, mercy and show a servant’s heart by truly working to make the other person shine, your actions will be misunderstood. They may accuse you of many things—especially “why” you’re doing those things. Unfortunately, looking from the outside, we cannot determine what someone else’s motivation is without asking them. For example, list the impetus for a particular driver exceeding the speed limit. (When I’ve done this with teams, they can easily come up with more than a dozen reasons.) We don’t know what’s making that particular driver speed. Likewise, they won’t know why you’re being a servant.
…for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven…for your reward in heaven is great… [for] they will see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.
When we take on the Name of Christ (like being adopted into the family or marrying into it), we have no choice. Others will learn about Him through us. We better not take on His Name in vain. We play not for our team but for His. We damage not just our reputation but His as well. Hopefully, we will sustain life and bring joy and peace and love to all. We will be visible in a dark world. We will be a light to the nations, a city on a hill, hopefully attractive to all and a haven for the desperate— the least, last and lost. A song from the musical Godspell says it well, “…You’ve got to stay bright to be the light of the world…You can’t have that fault and be the salt of the earth…You’ve got to stay pretty in the city of God.” In the heights of the city, we can appear as wise or foolish (Proverbs 9). The city on a hill is visible to all and it can’t be in ruins.
What should our response be when our efforts are sabotaged, slandered and disparaged? “Do not resist an evil person, but whoever slaps you on the right cheek, turn the other to him also. If anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, let him have your coat also. Whoever forces you to go one mile, go with him two.” “… Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you…” This is a requirement for bosses and everyone else to live out.
By doing these things, we confirm the covenant of salt given to Levi. Any non- sacrificial, non-animal offerings were sprinkled with salt by the priests. Christ has made us a royal priesthood when He calls us the salt of the earth, sprinkled in it so that the earth—all the nations perhaps–would be pleasing to God. There was no promise of land given to Levi’s tribe. Instead he and his descendants got the best of everything that was offered to the Lord. In this way, they were able to enjoy the Kingdom of God without any net worth. They (and King David’s descendants) had this covenant as a sign of preservation, perpetuity. We are not promised great wealth but we are promised that the King will welcome us…forever.
- Matthew 5.10-16
- Leviticus 2; Numbers 18.19; 2 Chronicles 13.5
- Matthew 5.38-44
- 1 Peter 2.9
- Isaiah 51.1-4, 59.20-60.3
- Exodus 20.9
1. What ill effects have you suffered when trying to do the right thing?
2. When doing your best, how have you felt God’s favor?
3. How often do you feel like you’re bringing glory to God’s Name?
4. What will you do differently this week?
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You Are The Salt Of The Earth