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September 19, 2021 | Doug Sauder
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“Be happy about it! Be very glad! For a great reward awaits you in heaven. And remember, the ancient prophets were persecuted in the same way.”—Matthew 5:12 (NLT)
So yesterday, we learned something very interesting: “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). Of all the words I would use to describe being insulted, persecuted, and slandered, I can tell you that “blessed” would be at the bottom of the list. But that’s because, in my human mind with my limited view, I have this tendency to think within the little box of my present life, circumstances, and feelings!
As we have come to know all too well, God’s ways are not our ways, and His thoughts are not our thoughts (Isaiah 55:8). And as it pertains to Matthew 5:11 and the idea of being blessed in the midst of insults, persecution, and slander, today’s verse explains the form that blessing takes! Here in verse 12, our Lord encourages us, saying, “For a great reward awaits you in heaven.”
I know that being persecuted, insulted, hated, and mistreated for loving Jesus is hard. I’ve experienced it and know it doesn’t feel good. But I hope you’ll find solace in knowing that even though we face the reality found in John 15:20 (NIV), which says, “A servant is not greater than his master. If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also,” we can rejoice in the reality found in John 16:33 (NIV), which says, “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”
Consider also the words of wisdom found in James 4:14 (NLT), which says, “Your life is like the morning fog—it’s here a little while, then it’s gone.” Most of us have 80, maybe 90 years on this earth. Job rightfully states, “that my life is but breath” (Job 7:7 NASB). And once this life comes to an end, we face eternity, where Jesus has gone to prepare a place for us, where He instructed us to store up treasures for ourselves. Perseverance, grace, and reliance on Jesus in the face of persecution is like a deposit in our heavenly storehouse.
So friends, I pray that the peace of God that surpasses understanding will strengthen, empower, and embolden you when you encounter persecution. I pray that, like in Acts 14:22 (NLT), I can encourage you like the apostle did the early church when he told them “to continue in the faith, reminding them that we must suffer many hardships to enter the Kingdom of God.”
DIG: Search the New Testament for instances of the apostles and early church members enduring the persecution Jesus predicted. How did they endure? What attitude did they demonstrate?
DISCOVER: How do you feel knowing that your reward for earthly persecution is waiting for you in Heaven? Does this bring you comfort in the moment?
DISPLAY: In your prayers today, thank the Lord Jesus for overcoming the world and for giving you a hope and future beyond this world.
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.