"Blessed are those who are persecuted FOR RIGHTEOUSNESS, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to them. “Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you and say all kinds of evil things about you falsely ON ACCOUNT OF ME. Rejoice and be glad because your reward is great in heaven, for they persecuted the prophets before you in the same way. (Matthew 5:10-12)
Again, the Greek word for blessed (i.e., makarios) used here has a meaning of being fortunate, prosperous, or successful. That is, successful are those that suffer persecution when doing the right thing! Successful are those that suffer from insults, persecution, and slander when living a life that represents Jesus! Note these verses do NOT say that suffering brought upon ourselves via poor behavior will make us successful! Self-induced suffering (i.e., suffering we experience as a consequence of our incorrect actions) has no spiritual value (1 Peter 4:15. 1 Peter 2:20. 1 Peter 3:17).
For example, you decide to let someone have a “piece of your mind,” and they, in turn, commence to publicly humiliate you. The suffering you are experiencing is self-induced and deserved and will not directly lead to spiritual growth. However, if you repent to God for having sinned then humility can be learned as you publicly apologize to the individual. However, this is simply an indirect benefit to your initial action.
Be careful about giving away pieces of your mind or you might find one day that you have none left!
Realize, as Christians, we will experience suffering ranging from offenses from lost people of the world to those from fellow Christians, including betrayal, loss of things, various temptations, persecutions, etc. However, know that it is a loving and just God who passes judgment for suffering to come into our lives to shape our character into that of Christ (Romans 5:3-5. James 1:2-4. John 15:2). This shaping or conforming to the Character of Christ includes the removal of pride (2 Corinthians 12:7). Furthermore, although Satan delivers the suffering to BREAK us (1 Peter 5:8. John 10:10), always remember it is God that judged it right to come upon us to MAKE us (Acts 20:19,23. )
Verses about Suffering as a Believer
“A disciple is not greater than his teacher, nor a slave greater than his master. It is enough for the disciple to become like his teacher, and the slave like his master. If they have called the head of the house ‘Beelzebul,’ how much more will they defame the members of his household! (Matthew 10:24–25 NET)
“If the world hates you, be aware that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, the world would love you as its own. However, because you do not belong to the world, but I chose you out of the world, for this reason the world hates you.Remember what I told you, ‘A slave is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you. If they obeyed my word, they will obey yours too. (John 15:18–20 NET)
I have told you these things so that in me you may have peace. In the world you have trouble and suffering, but take courage—I have conquered the world.” (John 16:33 NET)
“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor’ and ‘hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemy and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be like your Father in heaven, since he causes the sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Even the tax collectors do the same, don’t they? And if you only greet your brothers, what more do you do? Even the Gentiles do the same, don’t they? So then, be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect. (Matthew 5:43–48 NET)
But now I am coming to you, and I am saying these things in the world, so they may experience my joy completed in themselves. I have given them your word, and the world has hated them, because they do not belong to the world, just as I do not belong to the world. I am not asking you to take them out of the world, but that you keep them safe from the evil one. They do not belong to the world just as I do not belong to the world. Set them apart in the truth; your word is truth. Just as you sent me into the world, so I sent them into the world. And I set myself apart on their behalf, so that they too may be truly set apart. “I am not praying only on their behalf, but also on behalf of those who believe in me through their testimony, that they will all be one, just as you, Father, are in me and I am in you. I pray that they will be in us, so that the world will believe that you sent me. The glory you gave to me I have given to them, that they may be one just as we are one—I in them and you in me—that they may be completely one, so that the world will know that you sent me, and you have loved them just as you have loved me. (John 17:13–23 NET)
So, since Christ suffered in the flesh, you also arm yourselves with the same attitude, because the one who has suffered in the flesh has finished with sin, (1 Peter 4:1 NET)
Dear friends, do not be astonished that a trial by fire is occurring among you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice in the degree that you have shared in the sufferings of Christ, so that when his glory is revealed you may also rejoice and be glad. If you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory, who is the Spirit of God, rests on you. But let none of you suffer as a murderer or thief or criminal or as a troublemaker. But if you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed, but glorify God that you bear such a name. (1 Peter 4:12–16 NET)
Take your share of suffering as a good soldier of Christ Jesus. No one in military service gets entangled in matters of everyday life; otherwise he will not please the one who recruited him. Also, if anyone competes as an athlete, he will not be crowned as the winner unless he competes according to the rules.The farmer who works hard ought to have the first share of the crops. Think about what I am saying and the Lord will give you understanding of all this. (2 Timothy 2:3–7)
But in fact, if you happen to suffer for doing what is right, you are blessed. But do not be terrified of them or be shaken. But set Christ apart as Lord in your hearts and always be ready to give an answer to anyone who asks about the hope you possess. (1 Peter 3:14–15 NET)
“Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you and say all kinds of evil things about you falsely on account of me. Rejoice and be glad because your reward is great in heaven, for they persecuted the prophets before you in the same way. (Matthew 5:11–12 NET)
“Blessed are you when people hate you, and when they exclude you and insult you and reject you as evil on account of the Son of Man! Rejoice in that day, and jump for joy, because your reward is great in heaven. For their ancestors did the same things to the prophets. (Luke 6:22–23 NET)
So then let those who suffer according to the will of God entrust their souls to a faithful Creator as they do good. (1 Peter 4:19 NET)
For it has been granted to you not only to believe in Christ but also to suffer for him, since you are encountering the same conflict that you saw me face and now hear that I am facing. (Philippians 1:29,30 NET)
My brothers and sisters, consider it nothing but joy when you fall into all sorts of trials, because you know that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect effect, so that you will be perfect and complete, not deficient in anything. (James 1:2–4 NET)
And you became imitators of us and of the Lord, when you received the message with joy that comes from the Holy Spirit, despite great affliction. (1 Thessalonians 1:6 NET)
Now I rejoice in my sufferings for you, and I fill up in my physical body—for the sake of his body, the church—what is lacking in the sufferings of Christ. (Colossians 1:24 NET)
The godly face many dangers, but the Lord saves them from each one of them. (Psalm 34:19 NET)
so that no one would be shaken by these afflictions. For you yourselves know that we are destined for this. For in fact when we were with you, we were telling you in advance that we would suffer affliction, and so it has happened, as you well know. (1 Thessalonians 3:3,4 NET)
This is evidence of God’s righteous judgment, to make you worthy of the kingdom of God, for which in fact you are suffering. (2 Thessalonians 1:5 NET)
So do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord or of me, a prisoner for his sake, but by God’s power accept your share of suffering for the gospel. (2 Timothy 1:8 NET)
Now in fact all who want to live godly lives in Christ Jesus will be persecuted. (2 Timothy 3:12 NET)
The crucible is for refining silver and the furnace is for gold, likewise the Lord tests hearts. (Proverbs 17:3 NET)
Look, I have refined you, but not as silver; I have purified you in the furnace of misery. (Isaiah 48:10 NET)
As the crucible is for silver and the furnace is for gold, so a person is proved by the praise he receives. (Proverbs 27:21 NET)
He delivers the afflicted by their afflictions, he reveals himself to them by their suffering. (Job 36:15)
They strengthened the souls of the disciples and encouraged them to continue in the faith, saying, “We must enter the kingdom of God through many persecutions.” (Acts 14:22 NET)
When they arrived, he said to them, “You yourselves know how I lived the whole time I was with you, from the first day I set foot in the province of Asia, serving the Lord with all humility and with tears, and with the trials that happened to me because of the plots of the Jews. You know that I did not hold back from proclaiming to you anything that would be helpful, and from teaching you publicly and from house to house, testifying to both Jews and Greeks about repentance toward God and faith in our Lord Jesus. And now, compelled by the Spirit, I am going to Jerusalem without knowing what will happen to me there, except that the Holy Spirit warns me in town after town that imprisonment and persecutions are waiting for me. But I do not consider my life worth anything to myself, so that I may finish my task and the ministry that I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the good news of God’s grace. (Acts 20:18–24 NET)
From now on let no one cause me trouble, for I bear the marks of Jesus on my body. (Galatians 6:17)
You, however, be self-controlled in all things, endure hardship, do an evangelist’s work, fulfill your ministry. For I am already being poured out as an offering, and the time for me to depart is at hand. I have competed well; I have finished the race; I have kept the faith! Finally the crown of righteousness is reserved for me. The Lord, the righteous Judge, will award it to me in that day—and not to me only, but also to all who have set their affection on his appearing. (2 Timothy 4:5–8 NET)
This brings you great joy, although you may have to suffer for a short time in various trials. Such trials show the proven character of your faith, which is much more valuable than gold—gold that is tested by fire, even though it is passing away—and will bring praise and glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. (1 Peter 1:6–7 NET)
And, after you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace who called you to his eternal glory in Christ will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. To him belongs the power forever. Amen. (1 Peter 5:10,11 NET)
This is because physical growth is a function of time, mental growth is a function of study, and spiritual growth (1) is a function of obedience in the midst of suffering temptation. The ultimate goal is perfect obedience, which is the cessation of sinning (1) (1 Peter 4:1). Again, how do we learn obedience? The same way Jesus did, through suffering (Hebrews 5:7-9). Also, we will not suffer more than we are able, and God will always create a way of escape that we might endure (1 Corinthians 10:13). Consequently, if we turn to Him in the trial, God will cause it to “work together for good” (Romans 8:28). However, working together for good does not mean obtaining what we want or think we need but rather being conformed to the image of Jesus Christ – even if that means the suffering must continue for a protracted period of time (2 Corinthians 4:17. Romans 8:29. 1 Peter 5:10). Realize, suffering has been effective when you are more Christlike (e.g., more obedient) at its conclusion. We learn to suffer effectively (1) by following the guidance contained in the Bible (2 Corinthians 1:3-10. Psalms 119:71. Ecclesiastes 7:3).
The wisdom of God appears in afflictions. By these, He separates the sin which He hates, from the son whom He loves. By these thorns, He keeps him from breaking over into Satan’s pleasant pastures, which would fatten him indeed, but only to the slaughterJames H. Aughey
When division strikes an organization, family, or church, God expects Christians to stand firm and not allow the chaos of the moment to affect them (Ephesians 6:11-13). During these times of divisive behavior, slander, gossip, and a plethora of other evils from Satan, we are tested with the result that the spiritual Christians are distinguished from the carnal or worldly ones (1 Corinthians 11:18,19. 1 Corinthians 3:3. Romans 8:5-9). During these times, we are to conduct ourselves in a manner “worthy of the gospel of Christ” (Philippians 1:27. 1 Peter 3:8-11). In other words, God expects the believer to resist Satan’s temptation to retaliate (Job 36:17), to take the high road by being one that gives mercy (1), and to be a peacemaker (1), which includes being willing to break fellowship with people following the darkness when necessary (2 Thessalonians 3:6). People will let you down, but God never will (Hebrews 13:5). We are to keep our eyes focused on the “faith of the gospel,” which will anchor our hearts and mind during times of conflict (Philippians 1:27). We are to follow the “one Spirit,” the Holy Spirit of God, revealed to us through the Holy Scriptures, the Word of God, which is the heart, mind, and soul of Jesus Christ (Philippians 1:27. 2 Peter 1:21).
It is not affliction itself, but affliction rightly borne, that does us goodJames H. Aughey
How can you know if we are winning or losing the fight? We are winning the fight when the perfect love of God has removed all fearful intimidation of the situation from us (Isaiah 54:14. 1 John 4:18. Hebrews 13:6. Matthew 6:25-34). We are losing when we allow Satan to discourage, scare, or intimidate us (2 Timothy 1:7). We must remember that in Christ Jesus, we are already conquerors, and indeed more than conquerors because He has won the victory over sin and death for us at the Cross of Calvary! (Colossians 2:13-15. John 16:33. 1 John 3:8. Romans 8:31-39. 1 John 5:4,5. Revelation 2:7,11,17,26;3:5,12,21;21:7. Revelation 12:11)
Realize, God laughs at His enemies, not in a mocking derisory way but in Holy laughter which places Satan firmly under His feet, and even goes as far as using the enemy to extend His purposes! (Psalms 2:1-4. Psalms 37:9-13. Proverbs 1:20-33. Romans 16:20) We are not in an equally-sided battle. God always has a win/win plan for an individual, as well as in the big picture (Jeremiah 29:11) (2).
We can be sure that God is working His purpose out in our lives, whatever the circumstances are presently (Philippians 1:6). He has His way of outwitting the enemy, and we can look to Him, trusting that He will bring about what we can never do through our own cleverness and human logic (Proverbs 3:5,6).
Again, when we are following the truth of the Gospel, people Satan has deceived will oppose us, including those we trust the most (Psalms 55:12-14. Luke 22:48. 2 Corinthians 4:3,4. Ephesians 2:2. 1 John 5:19). In these circumstances, we must keep our eyes on Jesus and not the stormy conflict (Matthew 14:29,30). Rest in the truth of the Gospel and know God will judge every evil action brought against us by those that do not like our following Jesus. Ultimately those that follow Satan will be completely destroyed (1), but we that follow Jesus Christ will be completely saved (1) and given the Kingdom of Heaven (1) as our home (1 Peter 4:17-19. Philippians 1:28. Hebrews 10:30,31. Jude 1:14,15. Proverbs 16:4. Revelations 20:11-15. Hebrews 7:25. Romans 10:13. Luke 12:32. Revelation 21:1-8;21:27).
Now that is something to have a BEAUTIFUL ATTITUDE about!
Love must be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil, cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another with mutual love, showing eagerness in honoring one another. Do not lag in zeal, be enthusiastic in spirit, serve the Lord. Rejoice in hope, endure in suffering, persist in prayer. Contribute to the needs of the saints, pursue hospitality. Bless those who persecute you, bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with one another; do not be haughty but associate with the lowly. Do not be conceited.Do not repay anyone evil for evil; consider what is good before all people.If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all people.Do not avenge yourselves, dear friends, but give place to God’s wrath, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay,” says the Lord. Rather, if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him a drink; for in doing this you will be heaping burning coals on his head. Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. (Romans 12:9-21)
The Beautiful Attitudes Series:
- The Beautiful Attitudes – Part I: Blessed are the Poor in Spirit
- The Beautiful Attitudes – Part II: Blessed are those who Mourn
- The Beautiful Attitudes – Part III: Blessed are the Meek
- The Beautiful Attitudes – Part IV: Blessed are those that Hunger and Thirst
- The Beautiful Attitudes – Part V: Blessed are the Merciful
- The Beautiful Attitudes – Part VI: Blessed are the Pure in Heart
- The Beautiful Attitudes – Part VII: Blessed are the Peacemakers
- The Beautiful Attitudes – Part VIII: Blessed are those who are Persecuted
(Peace, Wholeness, Success)
Dear friend, I pray that all may go well with you and that you may be in good health, just as it is well with your soul. (3 John 1:2 NET)
(1) Select the link to open another article in a new tab with additional information.
(2) Adapted from Seeds of the Kingdom Daily Devotional, December 24, 2013: God Laughs at His enemies by Fiona Horrobin.