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September 19, 2021 | Doug Sauder
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“Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me.”—Matthew 5:11 (NIV)
If you have a social media account, you’ve probably seen people share photos or stories using the hashtag #Blessed. You may see this attached to a photo of family and friends gathered together, a birth announcement, a significant other, a pet, or maybe even a delicious meal.
Do you know what you don’t expect to see #Blessed attached to? A post about people insulting you, a picture of you being persecuted, or a video of people falsely saying all kinds of evil against you. But that’s exactly what Jesus is saying here. He’s saying we’re “blessed” when this happens to us.
Charles Ellicott explains that this beatitude is different from the others because it’s “uttered, not as a general law, but as the portion of the listening disciples to whom the Teacher spoke. The words contain three forms . . . of suffering: (1) the vague contempt, showing itself in gibes and nicknames; (2) persecution generally; (3) deliberate calumnies (slander; false statements) . . . which were spread against the believers in Christ in the first two centuries.”
Have you experienced anything like this? Have you ever heard a believer referred to as a bigot because they don’t agree with someone’s lifestyle? Or that Christians are ignorant, outdated, and narrow-minded? Has a secular professor ever tried to shame you in front of a class full of students because you follow Jesus? I’ve experienced these things, and I’m sure on some level you have, too. And here, as Ellicott points out, Jesus “forewarns His disciples that they must expect persecution if they follow Him; His very name will be the signal and occasion of it.”
But He also says we’re blessed because of it. Tomorrow, we’ll go deeper into what that blessing looks like . . . but for today, I want you to consider why suffering, difficulty, persecution, and hardship get mentioned in a positive light constantly in the Bible.
Consider James 1:3 (NIV), where you’re encouraged to rejoice in trials, “because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.” Consider how Paul encourages us to “glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope” (Romans 5:3-4 NIV). And most of all, consider that Jesus tells us that He has overcome the world for us.
So, the next time you experience persecution of any kind for being a Christ-follower, I encourage you to view it as a blessing and know that God is working in you and for you in those moments!
DIG: Read John 15:18–25.
DISCOVER: Why do you believe the world hates and persecutes believers? What about Jesus’ name brings about such a reaction in some people?
DISPLAY: Find some time to pray with other believers over this subject. Pray for them as they potentially encounter persecution, slander, and ridicule for the name of Jesus. Pray for their perseverance and that the Lord would work through them, in them, and for them in those seasons.
Danny Saavedra has served on the staff of Calvary since 2012, managing the Calvary Devotional and digital discipleship resources. He has a Master of Arts in Pastoral Counseling and Master of Divinity in Pastoral Ministry from Liberty Theological Seminary. His wife Stephanie, son Jude, and daughter Zoe share a love of Star Wars, good food, having friends over for dinner, and studying the Word together as a family.