“God blesses those who are persecuted for doing right, for the Kingdom of Heaven is theirs. 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.” (Matthew 5:10-12)
When you feel pressured by the world because you love Jesus and other people don’t, you need to remember three things:
1 – Opposition can make you more like Jesus. Jesus says in John 15:18-20, “If the world hates you, remember that it hated me first. The world would love you as one of its own if you belonged to it, but you are no longer part of the world. I chose you to come out of the world, so it hates you. Do you remember what I told you? ‘A slave is not greater than the master.’ Since they persecuted me, naturally they will persecute you. And if they had listened to me, they would listen to you” (NLT, second edition). If you’re going to grow up and be like Jesus Christ, then you’re going to have to go through the things Jesus went through, including loneliness, discouragement, stress, and temptation. What makes you think God would spare you when he didn’t spare his own Son from those things?
2 – Opposition will deepen your faith. Your faith is like a muscle. A muscle doesn’t grow by sitting in a chair and eating popcorn. A muscle grows by being stretched, strained, and tested. You’re never going to grow a muscle if no weight is ever pulling in the opposite direction. If you don’t have opposition in your life, then your faith is not growing. The strongest believers in the world right now are those who are having their faith tested the most. The Bible says in 1 Peter 1:7, “These trials will show that your faith is genuine. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold — though your faith is far more precious than mere gold. So when your faith remains strong through many trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world.”
3 – Opposition will give you eternal rewards. Matthew 5:10-12 says, “God blesses those who are persecuted for doing right, for the Kingdom of Heaven is theirs. 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.” God’s going to bless anybody who’s persecuted because they live for him. Notice that you don’t get rewarded for being rude or obnoxious. If you live a self-righteous life when you get persecuted, you’re not a martyr; you’re just a jerk.
You don’t get rewarded for that. You get rewarded for being like Jesus. When you share your faith, you’re to do it with gentleness and respect, just like Jesus, and you will be rewarded for it one day in Heaven.
These are the three things you need to remember whenever you’re harassed for your faith: It can make you more like Jesus. It can deepen your faith. And you will be rewarded for it in eternity.