Blessed Are Ye When Men Shall Revile You
Blessed are ye when they shall revile you, and persecute you, and speak all that is evil against you, untruly, for my sake: (Matthew 5:11)
Notice, God said, “untruly.” It then follows that if they can speak evil of us truthfully, the promise is off, and we are at fault, and have no other choice than to sincerely repent of our sins, or be forever condemned.
The clause, “persecuted for righteousness”, sake in verse 10, which we discussed in our last post, is almost the same as this one in verse 11. But I believe that the expression in verse 10 has more reference to a general oppression from the government, while this, in verse 11, refers more to the contempt, mockery, and gossip intended to belittle an individual. Jesus says here, “Be exceedingly glad and rejoice.” Now you may ask in discouragement: “How can a man rejoice under such condition?” Do not overlook the words that follow for they give you the answer: “for your reward is very great in heaven.” We may not rejoice to think of the mockers and their mockery, but it is a comfort and great joy to think of our reward in heaven.
In Luke 10:20, Jesus says: “Rejoice in this, that your names are written in heaven.” It is possible for us to rejoice even under the most trying circumstances; for the apostles rejoiced even under the most trying circumstances; for the apostles rejoiced that they were counted worthy to suffer for the case of Christ, counting it a special favor of God. Just look at Paul and Silas there in the inner cell of the prison, with their feet fast in the stocks; they were not discouraged. “Who having received such a charge, thrust them into the inner prison, and made their feet fast in the stocks. And at midnight, Paul and Silas praying, praised God. And they that were in prison, heard them. And suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken. And immediately all the doors were opened, and the bands of all were loosed.” (Acts 16:24-26)
Yes, even these holy men of God suffered persecution; but because they were content and praised God in it, He was in there presence, and poured out His blessings upon them, so that they could pray the strong stone fortress and iron padlocks to pieces, and were led out triumphantly. Instead of hindering the work of the Lord, His cause was advanced; the keeper of the prison and all his household were converted to God, and were baptized.
Instead of giving up in despondency and complaining about such reproach and mistreatment, we should praise God and thank Him for grace to endure it; “And we know that to them that love God, all things work together unto good, to such as, according to his purpose, are called to be saints.” (Romans 8:28)
Someone might ask, “What is the purpose of God?” Our reply is, that whereas all men were under the curse of sin and death, God has redeemed them through the all-sufficient sacrifice of Jesus Christ, and has called them to walk holy, and blameless before Him in love. This requires faith; for a man is justified by faith. Those who meet this condition then are called according to His purpose; and they are to also called to suffer with Christ. To such, all things work together for good, even as the experience of Paul and Silas in prison strengthened and increased their faith.
If you are treated with contempt and spurned for Christ's sake, be patient and do not complain, but rejoice and rest assured that a reward awaits you.
Paul and Silas had no power to keep out of jail, and needed to submit to imprisonment, but once they were in that submissive condition they were endued with power to move bars, locks, and doors through persistent prayer. Should the suffering of this time is not worthy to be compared with the glory that shall be revealed in us.
People of this world see only those things which appear before their eyes, and seek their pleasure in the temporary things of this earth, On the other hand, the people of God overlook all this and fix their attention on the things which are future and eternal; knowing that “For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory; While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal.” II Corinthians 4:17-18
In the eyes of the world the true Christian appears to be sad and depressed in spirit, as Paul wrote: “As sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; as poor, yet enriching many; as having nothing, and possessing all things.” (II Corinthians 6:10). When we are partners with Christ we own all that is worth owning: being “Heirs, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.” (Romans 8:17) But notice that it says, “if we suffer with him.”; which means that if we suffer injustice for His cause, and endure it patiently and without complaint even as He endured it, then we shall be heirs of His indescribable glory, notwithstanding our weaknesses and depression of spirit. For our weaknesses will not bar us from glory. Only wickedness can do that.
Therefore, do not be discouraged, but pray for strength to endure all things that the enemies of the cross of Christ may bring up against you; have towards them a heart ready to forgive. And to those who have repented, forgive them as He has forgiven you also. Do not only love your friends who treat you with kindness, but your bitterest enemies also. “Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you.” (Matthew 5:44)
Pray for them earnestly, that God may forgive them even as he has forgiven you also, and as you yourself have already forgiven them. Perhaps you ask: “why so? They are not worthy of my best wishes.” But, Jesus is worthy of it, who died for them, as well as for you and me. Jesus tells us very plainly why we should pray for them- “That you may be the children of your Father who is in heaven.”
For He also treats His enemies the same as His friends. For He “maketh his sun to rise upon the good, and bad, and raineth upon the just and the unjust.” (Matthew 5:45) Our prayers must be just as earnest, and full of compassion when we pray for our most bitter enemies as when we pray for our warmest friends. I now come to a close with the words of Paul: “And may the God of peace himself sanctify you in all things; that your whole spirit, and soul, and body, may be preserved blameless in the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (I Thessalonians 5:23).