4 Guidelines When You Are Being Persecuted
Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Matthew 5:10
The person who stands for nothing will fall for anything, so goes conventional wisdom, but the person who does stand for something–whether it is the refusal to cover for fellow employees who cheat on their time cards, or has the conviction to abide by what he or she believes is right–will soon discover that everybody doesn’t appreciate that commitment to decency. It makes them squirm to have such a one in their midst. It’s true that people do love darkness rather than light because their deeds are evil.
You sit down at the lunch table with friends and the conversation goes dead, or they let you know in no uncertain terms that you are single because you are just too moral. How do you respond? In some cases the hostility is more emotional than physical, but in other situations, you find yourself as a target of even physical hostility you don’t deserve because you choose to do right.
When that happens, do you rejoice, saying, “Thank God, He counts me worthy to take the rap”? Or do you quietly think, “This is what I get for being so conservative.”
When Jesus taught the multitude in the Sermon on the Mount, He addressed this issue, as old as the sons of Adam and Eve and as contemporary as the morning newspaper. He said, “Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you” (Matthew 5:10-12).
How should you respond when you become a target of hostility or persecution for doing right? The following guidelines will help.
Guideline #1: Pray for your enemies. That’s the advice that Jesus gave His disciples. Strangely enough, the fact that some may persecute or ridicule the one who does right is often a sign of the conviction which is the result of God’s working in their lives. Do you remember that the archenemy of the early church–Saul of Tarsus–ended up being the Apostle Paul?
Guideline #2: Realize that Satan is using those who oppose you. At the same time, be on your guard. Don’t let the enemy get to you through his troops. Go back to passages such as Ephesians 6 which tell you how to oppose the opposition of the enemy and stand strong and true.
Guideline #3: Remember that nothing is forever. When my brother asked to place Gideon Bibles in a school, the principle sternly told him, “Over my dead body.” But two years later, they quietly went back and asked his replacement who gladly gave them permission and thanked them for doing it.
Guideline #4: Rejoice and be glad. Rather than thank God for the persecution, thank Him that His grace is sufficient for your need and that He will sustain you and strengthen you during this difficult time.
No one welcomes hostility or persecution for doing right, but, nonetheless, the fact endures, you are blessed and accounted worthy of the kingdom of heaven. Never forget God has his pay day someday–for you and for those who persecute you. Far better is it to be on the side that loses the skirmish but will win the war than to be on the side of those who win the skirmish but will eventually lose the war.
Resource reading: Luke 6:27-49