The last of the Lord’s beatitudes in the great Sermon on the Mount may be the most counter-intuitive of them all.
Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
Echoing the words of Jesus are Peter (1 Pet. 4:13), Paul (Rom. 5:3-5), and James (James 1:2-4). But how can one consider himself “blessed” while suffering?
- Because your reward in heaven is great (Matt. 5:11).
- Because tribulation produces perseverance, which leads further to the production of character and hope (Rom. 5:3-5).
- Because the trying of your faith produces patience, which then helps one to become perfect and complete, lacking nothing (James 1:2-4).
Bottom line: heaven is worth any price we are called to pay in our pursuit of it.
The life of a citizen of Christ’s kingdom is not like the life of a citizen of the devil’s. The Christian’s values, priorities, and attitudes are different. We are strangers in a foreign land (1 Pet. 2:11; Phil. 3:20). Perhaps no section of scripture highlights these differences more clearly than the Sermon on the Mount in general, and the beatitudes in particular. May God bless our lives as we, with his help, develop these wonderful traits.