Day 11

Blessed Are Those Who Are Persecuted

from the The Beatitudes reading plan


Matthew 5:10-12, Philippians 1:27-30, 2 Timothy 3:10-17, 1 Peter 1:6-7

BY Guest Writer

Text: Matthew 5:10-12, Philippians 1:27-30, 2 Timothy 3:10-17, 1 Peter 1:6-7

The internet is not for the faint of heart. Maybe you’ve noticed this, too. Behind the protection of a computer screen and social media, people lose their inhibitions and speak with a recklessness they wouldn’t otherwise. Strangers, acquaintances, and even friends launch virtual grenades that leave behind very real wounds.

I learned this lesson the hard way, soon after I started writing. Each week, I poured my heart and soul into words about Jesus, hoping to build up my readers while challenging them in their faith. I studied and prayed and edited and dreamed, and then, I released my ideas into the world. I remember hitting the “publish” button one of those first very times and, thirty minutes later, a comment appeared from one of my precious readers: “The author sounded whiney.”

Come to find out, this would be one of the gentler comments in a string of skin-thickening insults. It was my cold-splash initiation into the world of writing online, a world that is sometimes beautiful and sometimes brutal.

These experiences have taught me a lot over the years, but one lesson always stands out. When someone insults you, there is a subtle temptation lurking just behind it: to tear your critic down in the form of sympathy. “He is probably just a sad person,” or “Hurt people hurt people,” or “She’s just jealous.” I have said all of these things and more, and some of those assessments might even be true. But Jesus’ response to insults looks radically different.

In Matthew chapter 5, Jesus doesn’t focus on His critics’ motives. Instead, He points to the kingdom of God: “You are blessed when they insult and persecute you and falsely say every kind of evil against you because of Me. Be glad and rejoice, because your reward is great in heaven. For that is how they persecuted the prophets who were before you” (vv. 11-12).

It doesn’t matter how you were brought low—you meek, you downtrodden, you spiritual misfits—because God works wonders among the lowly. If people slander you or insult you because of Christ’s name, you don’t have to cower and you don’t have to flee, because the other side of death is always, always resurrection. Not around the shame, but through it.

This, in many ways, is the entire message of the Beatitudes.

But the news gets even better. This Kingdom isn’t some far-off reality. We’re tasting it now. The blessing is already here. We rejoice, not because the reward is distant, but because it’s near. Amidst the insults, the name-calling, the persecution and the slander, God does some of His very best work. He heals. He humbles. He overcomes strongholds. He seizes our fragile idols and shatters them on the ground. He takes our shame and our humiliation and He makes them submit to His reign. And that, my friends, is why we rejoice.

We don’t have to be afraid. We don’t have to feel threatened or timid about the truth, as if we have to defend it, or ourselves, to keep our joy. The Beatitudes remind us that God’s upside down Kingdom doesn’t work that way. God’s ways are higher than our ways, and our call is to bear witness to that truth.

We don’t have to let the fear of insult or persecution sway us from obedience. Instead, we can step into it with confidence, knowing God’s good plans for the persecuted. Even in our hurt and shame, the Kingdom is breaking in, and our lives are a big, bright flashing signpost beckoning the world to Him.

SRT-Beatitudes-Instagram11s

Sharon Hodde Miller is a writer, speaker, pastor’s wife, and mom of two boys. She is a regular contributor to Christianity Today and recently completed her Ph.D, which focused on cultivating the gifts of women in the church.

Post Comments (51)

51 thoughts on "Blessed Are Those Who Are Persecuted"

  1. Mercy says:

    I am so encouraged by the scriptures today, and especially by the gentle words of Sharon in this devotional. I love it when the downs are shared on the narrow road journey by experienced and faithful she’s. “In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith— more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 1:6-7 ESV). To God be all the glory!

  2. Traci Gendron says:

    Philippians 1:27 Just one thing; live your life in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ!

    The other side of death is always, always resurrection!

    Don’t laugh, but I’ve been listening to Christmas music today. We had snow in the mountains of Colorado. I love it. Especially the songs that are about Christ.

  3. Mari V says:

    Good morning, sweet She’s! I don’t know if the “almost” break in and damaged keyhole of my vehicle was persecution, but I am going to be honest here. It took a toll on my heart and mind. Plus, it’s going to be very expensive to repair and I don’t have that kind of money right now. But God…I’m shifting my focus (trying hard) on other and more important things such as what’s going on in our world and for my former bosses dad who is battling cancer. Please pray for him (John) as he is going in for major treatment this morning and they are hoping this treatment stops the growth of the cancer.

  4. Sharon, Jersey Girl says:

    “Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ.” (Philippians 1:27) This will be what I meditate on today. Every injustice, every unfairness, every wrong done against me…I am to conduct myself in a manner worth of the gospel. Period. No “but she” or “but he” or “but they”…conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel. That’s a big one – but not to big that God can’t help me overcome. The devil wants me to answer back, to point the finger, to blame or to justify my thoughts or actions, but that would not be a worthy manner. I so needed this reminder today and everyday!

    @Allison M. – praying that you will soon be healed from your respiratory infection and that you will be able to get through your work day today!
    @Nicole Burke – praying that you will get through your last month of harvest – what hard work that must be! And for the safety of your unborn baby and that the bleeding will stop.
    @Michelle Patire – great to hear that “the show will go on!” Praying for your time of worship and that your prayers will combat the darkness over your area. Praise God for a back up place in case of rain!
    @Donna Wolcott – continued prayers for Bonnie and her family. Wisdom to know whether to stay or come home and safety for the husbands who are in the army. Prayers for peace in Israel.

    Have a super blessed day all my SRT sisters – Daughters of the King!!

  5. Cheryl Blow says:

    We don’t like to talk about persecution but it does happen. When it comes, we have to stand firm in our faith. I’ve always been afraid that if I was ever really persecuted for my faith, would I be able to stand strong. I believe God equips us for whatever comes our way.

    “That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”
    ‭‭2 Corinthians‬ ‭12‬:‭10‬ ‭NIV‬‬
    https://bible.com/bible/111/2co.12.10.NIV

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