Posted: March 20, 2021
Author: Jessica Mudger
Matthew 5:11-12, NIV
“Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and 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.”
I have a quote by Mother Teresa that hangs on the mirror in my bedroom. It says,
“People are often unreasonable and self-centered. Forgive them anyway.
If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish motives. Be kind anyway.
If you are honest, people may cheat you. Be honest anyway.
If you find happiness, people may be jealous. Be happy anyway.
The good you do today may be forgotten tomorrow. Do good anyway.
Give the world the best you have and it may never be enough. Give your best anyway.
For you see, in the end, it is between you and God.
It was never between you and them anyway.”
I believe Mother Teresa understood exactly what Jesus meant when He said, “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and 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 5:11-12, NIV) When a righteous person does good, they understand that it was the right thing to do regardless of the outcome. Those who are still blinded by the darkness of the world cannot understand why someone would do something out of the goodness in their heart. People with Jesus in their heart understand that it was not a matter of choice, but a matter of compulsion. If one’s heart has been filled by the Savior, it is filled to the point of overflow. The good and selfless deeds of the world are simply the result of that flood.
I wonder if these words of Jesus in Matthew 5 are less of a warning and more of a spurring on toward good works. It’s as if He is saying, “Here’s how you know you are on the right track: people are going to misunderstand what you do because of Me. In fact, they will actually hate you because of Me. Count that as a sign you are doing life right.” Throughout the scriptures we see accounts of godly people who are unjustly punished in some way or another because of how they live their lives. Did this stop them? Not the true followers.
The twelve apostles were warned (except for one) that they would die because of their obedience to Jesus. Paul would go on to suffer terribly long before death claimed him. Even so, he said in Philippians 4:12-13 (NIV), “I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through him who gives me strength.” Completely surrendered followers of Christ understand that He has the only opinion that matters. If we have decided to give Him our lives, then there is nothing anyone else can do to take them from us.
We may suffer at the hands of misunderstanding people. In fact, it sounds as if the Bible tells us that if we are doing things correctly, we most definitely will. However, 2 Corinthians 4:17 (NIV) says, “For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.” We cannot even imagine the blessings that God holds for those who are faithful to love Him even to their own ends. So, brothers and sisters, when we are misunderstood, slandered, mistreated, and even persecuted because of our beloved Jesus, may we abide in His promise in John 16:33 (NIV), “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”