Beliefnet
Mark D. Roberts

Blessed Are Those Who Are Maligned for the Sake of Jesus

READ Matthew 5:1-12

 “God blesses you when people mock you and persecute you and lie about you and say all sorts of evil things against you because you are my followers. Be happy about it! Be very glad! For a great reward awaits you in heaven. And remember, the ancient prophets were persecuted in the same way.”

Matthew 5:11-12

The last of the beatitudes is an elaboration of the previous one: “God blesses those who are persecuted for doing right, for the Kingdom of Heaven is theirs” (Matt. 5:10). Though verse 11 includes persecution among the evils that the followers of Jesus will face, the emphasis is upon verbal attacks. You are blessed, Jesus says, when people mock you, lie about you, and malign you because you are my followers.
Most of us in the Western world won’t experience the sort of persecution that plagued the early church, and that still impacts Christians in many parts of Asia today. But it is increasingly common in American and European society for Christians to be victims of the verbal abuse Jesus mentions in this passage. This can happen in the media, in the workplace, in the university, to name just a few contexts where Christians are sometimes belittled for their faith.
When people speak poorly of us because of our faith, we must be prepared to explain and defend our beliefs, yet always “in a gentle and respectful way” (1 Pet. 3:15). We must not return evil for evil, attacking with words those who attack us.
It’s not easy to offer a Christ-like response when we are belittled for our faith. A year ago, I found myself in a three-hour radio “debate” with Christopher Hitchens, author of god is not Great and a fervent critic of Christianity. One of Hitchens’ techniques was to insinuate that I was a fool to believe as I did. He also misrepresented the facts of Christianity several times. It was hard for me to keep my cool, and to treat Mr. Hitchens “in a gentle and respectful way,” but that was my intent.
Jesus gives us motivation to turn the other cheek when we are maligned for our faith. “Be very glad!” he says. “For a great reward awaits you in heaven.” What will be that reward? Surely it will include God’s good pleasure in us and the knowledge that we remained faithful even in difficult circumstances. What a joy it will be to hear from our Lord: “Well done, good and faithful servant.”
QUESTIONS FOR REFLECTION: Have you ever been maligned for your faith? What did you do? What helps you to treat people with gentleness and respect even when they are mistreating you?
PRAYER: Dear Lord, from your own experience, you know how hard it is to be maligned by people. It hurts when they lie about us or say wrong things in attacking us. When this happens, our gut instinct is to hit back. But you call us to a different way. We’re to turn the other cheek, to walk the second mile, to offer gentleness and respect to those who have been harsh and rude to us. Help us, dear Lord, to do this.
Thank you for giving us the hope of a future reward. This sustains us in hard times. But it keeps me going to know that when I am mistreated for your sake, and when I respond as you would respond, you are pleased right now.
All praise be to you, dear Lord, for helping us to endure when we are mistreated for your sake. All praise be to you for the hope of a future with you. Amen.
Daily Reflections from The High Calling.org
This devotional comes from The High Calling of Our Daily Work (www.thehighcalling.org). You can read my Daily Reflections there, or sign up to have them sent to your email inbox each day. This website contains lots of encouragement for people who are trying to live out their faith in the workplace.
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