10 Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 11 “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. 12 Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
We like things to be fair unless that translates into discomfort for us. We would rather avoid persecution even if we are at fault, much less if it isn’t! Yet, here we find a great paradox – the one who is persecuted for righteousness is happy! Notice, the scripture does not say that one is happy because they are being persecuted, but that the one who is following righteousness (Jesus) will be happy, because they know that heaven awaits them. No one enjoys being insulted or having their name tarnished by lies.
When we love Jesus, we set our intentions and minds on following His plan for our life, realizing that He knows best. He is Lord which means that we have determined to align our will with His (“Thy will be done!”). After all the Creator of the universe likely knows best! Psalm 37:4 Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart. At least one meaning of taking delight in the Lord is that we are aligning our will with His and our deepest desire is to be in his presence which will be fully realized in heaven. Proverbs 3:5-6 Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight. The Lord knows best.
When we determine to follow Jesus, we will be opposed; because the world does not want light where there is darkness (John 15:18 If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first.). Those attempting to find short cuts to happiness will oppose those following Jesus as His ways call for actions that do not make sense to the world – they are spiritually discerned (1 Corinthians 2:14 The person without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God but considers them foolishness, and cannot understand them because they are discerned only through the Spirit.). Following Jesus may not be the easiest path (Matthew 7:13-14 Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.), but perfect communion with Jesus in heaven is the ultimate reward. It is not earned by being a good follower, but it is a gift that is received and therefore prompts one to follow (Eph 2:8-9 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God - not by works, so that no one can boast.).
So, when we are persecuted for the sake of Jesus (out of our following), we are to rejoice and be glad – NOT for the discomfort/ pain/ rejection/ ridicule; but because there is a place prepared in heaven for us (John 14:2-3 My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.). By the way, you are in good company – the prophets were also persecuted.
Happy are those who claim the name of Jesus, even when persecuted.