Thoughts from daily Bible reading for today – September 1, 2015
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Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Matthew 5:10
When I first starting sharing about Christ through writing and speaking, I was too naïve to know I would be living between two relational bookends: one that would bring me pain, and one that would bring me joy. I was recently reminded of both “bookends” so I decided to read about them in Matthew. The first one is in Matthew 5:11, which says: “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me.” The second “bookend” is a few verses later in Matthew 5:16, “. . .let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.”
Every follower of Christ lives between relational curses and blessing, between disharmony and harmony, between persecution and acceptance. As much as I’d like to toss out bookend #1, persecution is a reality and we can’t go skipping through life without it. Sometimes we might experience it from a family member, a co-worker, or a neighbor when we stand up for Christ.
“Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword.” (Matthew 10:34)
I like the first bookend better because I like peace, but on days when I get more of Matthew 5:11 than Matthew 5:16, I’ve sometimes wanted to put away my pen and close my mouth. But God always sends encouragement. It recently came by remembering Matthew 5:13, which is wedged in-between these two bookends: “You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled by men.” The first time I read this scripture, I didn’t understand why it was placed right after the one on persecution. Then it hit me: Those who are Christ’s share His grace. They are indeed the salt of the earth. But we can lose our saltiness when we get discouraged because of persecution.
We must remember that our Adversary always wants to clap shut the mouths of God’s kids and shame them into silence—and sometimes he does that through others. So what do we do when this happens? We cast our cares on Christ, remember that we live to glorify Him and focus on His example. If you are discouraged today because of persecution, I invite you to remember Jesus’ suffering which was so, so much greater and choose to stay salty with a tender, grace-filled heart.
“Think of all the hostility he endured from sinful people; then you won’t become weary and give up” (Hebrews 12:3) (NLT).
Prayer: Lord, what an amazing example you are! You were persecuted yet you never lost faith. You continued to be the Light of the World. Help me not to lose my saltiness because of persecution and help me to remember I am in a spiritual battle. Let me always be a faithful warrior for you.
Related Readings: Hebrews 12:2; 2 Timothy 3:12; Matthew 5:44; Luke 6:22
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