By Brother Michel Lankford
Matthew 5:10-12 (NKJV) Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, For theirs is the kingdom of heaven. “Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake. Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
This is a question that I see from time to time in various places, and from various sources. Let us confront the obvious obstruction first. On the surface, it does not make sense that one should rejoice when being persecuted, and especially, when we are being persecuted for doing the right things. From a strictly human fleshly emotional point of view, it sounds mentally ill, to rejoice when you are being mistreated, and especially when you are being mistreated for doing righteously.
Neighbor, I thank you for your Question.
This Commandment Sounds Insane, but It is NOT
This third command of our Lord Jesus Christ is that when we are persecuted for the Lord’s sake we should rejoice. That is a very tall order, but nonetheless it is a command of our Messiah. It can also be a bit disillusioning for those who are just starting out in earnestly walking after the Lord Jesus Christ. For the most part, when we first come to the Lord we are enamored with our newly found discovery of God’s love and the empowerment of the Savior. We feel so good, that it’s hard to imagine that everyone doesn’t automatically want to feel this good. We are so blessed to be forgiven, that we want everyone to experience that same forgiveness as well. After all, we serve a God who sent His One and Only begotten Son to pay the penalty for our sins so that we would not have to perish! Why aren’t people lined up down the street four abreast around the block to partake of this glorious gift?! We serve the Lord that willingly laid down His life for us so that we can have a more abundant life (John 10:1-18). We are so happy to be loved, wanted, redeemed, and accepted by God, we cannot imagine such great news would make anyone unhappy, let alone angry. Ironically, that is exactly what it does. Why is this the case? That’s because, as you will see throughout this study, the people who truly belong to Messiah, also belong to a different Kingdom and a different society than what is what is commonly understood in the normal sinful world.
Obeying this Commandment is NOT natural. It is strictly SUPERNATURAL. A person who is still living in their flesh and still living according to their old sinful nature CANNOT successfully obey this Commandment at all. Only someone who is truly Born Again can successfully practice obeying this Commandment of Messiah.
- We rejoice because it means that we are truly Born Again. In order to obey this Commandment successfully, you are going to have to be truly Born Again by the Holy Spirit, (John 3:3, 7). The transformation described in (Ezekiel 11:19-20; & Ezekiel 36:25-27; & Romans 12:1-2), MUST be happening inside of you.
- We rejoice because it means that we belong to God and His Kingdom, and we no longer belong to the sinful world. Only someone who is overcoming their sinful nature can do this Commandment. This Commandment will NEVER make any sense to someone who is not born truly Born Again. They are blind. They cannot see it. They do not want to see it. Moreover, the more you try to explain it to them, the more they will resent you for it. So, do not waste your breath, (1 Corinthians 1:18; 1 Corinthians 2:14; 2 Corinthians 4:4; Romans 8:5-8; Matthew 7:6).
- . This Commandment is all about having Heavenly Kingdom Citizenship. It is all about valuing your relationship with Almighty God. It is all about valuing your relationship with Messiah, Jesus Christ. It is all about valuing and treasuring Kingdom Standards. You value Kingdom priorities so much, that you are willing to sacrifice the temporary comfort and well-being, that the sinful world promises you, in order to uphold Heavenly Kingdom priorities.
This whole Commandment hinges around having Heavenly Kingdom citizenship and having Heavenly Kingdom loyalties and having Heavenly Kingdom priorities, above other concerns. Once you realize that, then obeying this Commandment makes sense. This commandment is the Heavenly Kingdom’s Pledge of Allegiance. Every time that you strive to practice obeying this Commandment, you are making a declaration, by the way that you live, that you are a loyal citizen of the Heavenly Kingdom, you are declaring by the way that you live, that you value God; you value Messiah; value His Eternal Kingdom priorities, MORE then you value your temporary comfort and your temporary well-being in this world. That is why this Commandment matters. It is one that identifies WHICH Kingdom you actually belong to.
Overview of How Do We Practice Obeying This Commandment?
- We Must get our head Screwed on straight. Do not Buy the LIES.
- Expect the Wicked to hate you. Expect and be prepared for persecution.
- Be devoted to YHWH and Messiah. Compromising with wickedness will not rescue you, because the wicked are never satisfied. The wicked will always claim that you never went far enough in their direction, and your constant compromising will make you unfit to live in God’s Kingdom. So, compromising only end up making you unfit to live in either camp. Because the wicked will never be satisfied. And the more you compromise, the less you will be able to impact the world with true goodness and righteousness.
- We must remember that we are not alone. God will be with us. God will help us. We must remember that we are in good company. Every prophet of God and every Saint of God that ever accomplished anything worthwhile was heated ridiculed and persecuted by the people of his day.
- Remember that this commandment is meant to be the making of us, and not to be the ruining of us.
- Learn to value Eternal Rewards. God has an excellent memory. He will honor and reward those who stay loyal to Him, and to His Eternal Kingdom.
We Must Get our Head Screwed on Straight. Don’t Buy the Lies.
What is the biggest lie of postmodern Christianity? I genuinely believe that it is the lie of appeasement. It is the lie of compromise. It’s the lie that says, that if we become a little less committed to God and a little less hard-nosed about Godly Standards, then the sinful world will meet us halfway. It’s the lie that says that if we just are willing to compromise just a little bit with sin, then the sinful world will respect us. They will appreciate that we are meeting them halfway. They will become willing to hear God and to hear the gospel. They will come to respect God and respect Jesus Christ if we’re willing to back away from God and from His principles just a little bit more. Appeasement never brings peace. Compromise with the enemy only gives the enemy more time to prepare to attack and destroy you. The demands of the sinful world for compromise will never end. The more you give in, the more they will want. You will never be “Woke” enough, for the WOKE people and the Social Justice Warriors to recognize you as a good person, or to think that you are wonderful; because in order to reach that point where they like you, you will have to reject God, reject Jesus Christ, reject every vestige of Biblical morality that you hold dear, and in the end they will still devour you anyway. If you don’t believe me, all you have to do is look at how they treat their own people. Look at Tom Hanks for just one example. He is as leftist as left can get; but they are going after him now because his roles as an actor were traditionally too white male for their liking. The WOKE, politically correct, S.J.W.S. have begun a feeding frenzy that will NEVER be quenched, no matter how much you give or compromise. If you give them your finger, they will demand your hand. If you give them your hand, they will want the arm. If you give them the arm, they will want the leg. If you give them your whole body, they will demand your soul. Once they are done with you, they will either discard you for no longer being useful to them, or they will use you to devour other people. Either way, they will not be satisfied until there is nothing good left in you. You can bank on that.
The Sinful World is Going to HATE you. Quit Expecting Them to Like You.
They hate God. They hate Jesus Christ. They hate godly people. They love darkness. They love evil. They love wickedness. Jesus warned us, that this is how the wicked world would operate. All this proves that Jesus told the truth.
As It Is Written: “And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil. For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed. But whoever does what is true comes to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that his works have been carried out in God.” (John 3:19–21 ESV)
Messiah also said:
As It Is Written: ““If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own. Yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. Remember the word that I said to you, ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you. If they kept My word, they will keep yours also. But all these things they will do to you for My name’s sake, because they do not know Him who sent Me. If I had not come and spoken to them, they would have no sin, but now they have no excuse for their sin. (John 15:18–22 NKJV)
As It Is Written: “Do not marvel, my brethren, if the world hates you. (1 John 3:13 NKJV)
Please do not buy the lie, that if they do not like you, it is because you have done something wrong. Please do not buy the lie that if the sinful world, does not approve of you, then you need to change what you are doing to improve your approval rating with them. This is about WHOSE approval you want. Do you want God’s approval, or do you want man’s approval? What you must give up in order to gain the approval of human beings is not worth it.
As It Is Written: “For do I now persuade men, or God? Or do I seek to please men? For if I still pleased men, I would not be a bondservant of Christ. (Galatians 1:10 NKJV)
As It Is Written: “Adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. (James 4:4 LEB)
Please don’t get me wrong. I appreciate godly friends and godly friendships when I can have them. But as God gives me grace, I am always going to choose my friendship with God over any friendship with you. Losing your friendship would hurt, but losing the friendship of Almighty God would be eternally fatal. There is no amount of temporary blessings and friendship that you could offer me that would be an adequate replacement for the friendship of God. I could lose your friendship and survive, (though it would be painful), but I cannot survive or thrive eternally without the friendship of God. So, if I am forced to choose, may God give me Grace to continue to choose HIM EVERY time.
Thank you for your kind attention
Brother Michel Lankford