Day 36 – 40 Days with Jesus Devotions
“Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, For theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” – Matthew 5:10
Well, here we are at the last of the eight powerful sayings of Jesus that we know as the Beatitudes. Each of these sayings of Jesus run counter to the way of the world, and many religious people, and even many of those who call themselves Christians. We like standards of performance we can gauge. Especially when we can choose which ones we believe to be the right ones. It makes things much easier. Jesus calls us to a simple life of faith in His Sermon on the Mount, but not necessarily an easy life.
Of all the sayings of Jesus, this last one seems the most contrary to human thinking and experience. The world doesn’t associate happiness with humility, mourning over sin, gentleness, righteousness, mercy, purity of heart, or peacemaking. It associates happiness with persecution even less.
We must face a sobering reality: those who faithfully live according to the first seven Beatitudes are guaranteed at some point to experience the eighth. Those who live for God will inevitably be persecuted for it.
How will it happen? Jesus says they will “cast insults at you.” They will also persecute you. The word translated persecutedmeans “to pursue to the end.” They will hunt you down. They will say all kinds of evil things about you. They may even kill you. That has happened before to others, and it will happen again. They do this because they don’t understand the person who lives for God. People are afraid of those who are different. And the emotion of fear is often turned outward as anger.
So how should we respond? Jesus says, “rejoice and be exceedingly glad.” Why? For two reasons. First, because “your reward in heaven is great.” And second, because “so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.” You’re not alone. You’re in good company.
Our reward? Our repayment is out of this world. And it doesn’t compare with anything this world could give. Not every believer is rewarded in this life with the things of this life. But every believer is rewarded in this life with the comfort, strength, and joy of His indwelling Lord. He is also blessed with the assurance that no service or sacrifice for the Lord will be in vain.
As a sequel to his book Peace Child, Don Richardson has written Lords of the Earth(Glendale, Calif.: Regal, 1977). He tells the story of Stan Dale, another missionary to Irian Jaya, Indonesia, who ministered to the Yali tribe in the Snow Mountains. The Yali had one of the strictest known religions in the world. For a tribe member even to question, much less disobey, one of its tenets brought instant death. There could never be any change or modification. The Yali had many sacred spots scattered throughout their territory. If even a small child were to crawl onto one of those sacred pieces of ground, he was considered defiled and cursed. To keep the whole village from being involved in that curse, the child would he thrown into the rushing Heluk River to drown and be washed downstream.
When Stan Dale came with his wife and four children to that cannibalistic people he was not long tolerated. He was attacked one night and miraculously survived being shot with five arrows. After treatment in a hospital he immediately returned to the Yali. He worked unsuccessfully for several years, and the resentment and hatred of the tribal priests increased. One day as he, another missionary named Phil Masters, and a Dani tribesman named Yemu were facing what they knew was an imminent attack, the Yali suddenly came upon them. As the others ran for safety, Stan and Yemu remained back, hoping somehow to dissuade the Yali from their murderous plans. As Stan confronted his attackers, they shot him with dozens of arrows. As the arrows entered his flesh he would pull them out and break them in two. Eventually he no longer had the strength to pull the arrows out, but he remained standing.
Yemu ran back to where Phil was standing, and Phil persuaded him to keep running. With his eyes fixed on Stan, who was still standing with some fifty arrows in his body, Phil remained where he was and was himself soon surrounded by warriors. The attack had begun with hilarity, but it turned to fear and desperation when they saw that Stan did not fall. Their fear increased when it took nearly as many arrows to down Phil as it had Stan. They dismembered the bodies and scattered them about the forest in an attempt to prevent the resurrection of which they had heard the missionaries speak. But the back of their “unbreakable” pagan system was broken, and through the witness of the two men who were not afraid to die in order to bring the gospel to this lost and violent people, the Yali tribe and many others in the surrounding territory came to Jesus Christ. Even Stan’s fifth child, a baby at the time of this incident, was saved reading the book about his father.
Stan and Phil were not rewarded in this life with the things of this life. But they seem to have been double-blessed with the comfort, strength, and joy of their indwelling Lord—and the absolute confidence that their sacrifice for Him would not be in vain.
The life lived for God is the only life worth living. Both here and now, and forever.
Have a Great Day!