Thursday, April 4, 2013

Blessed are the Persecuted, pt2 from Sharla (mostly)

This blog entry is contributed by Sharla, and modified by me to “correct” a few things.  I’ll try to make it clear when it’s me writing vs. what was contributed.

Blessed are those who have been persecuted for the sake of righteousness,
…for theirs is the kingdom of heaven
Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad,
…for your reward in heaven is great; for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you

New Living Translation
God blesses those who are persecuted for doing right, for the Kingdom of Heaven is theirs.
Douay-Rheims Bible
Blessed are they that suffer persecution for justice' sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Young's Literal Translation
'Happy those persecuted for righteousness' sake -- because theirs is the reign of the heavens.’ 

Barnes' Notes on the Bible
Blessed are they which are persecuted - To persecute means literally to pursue; follow after, as one does a flying enemy. Here it means to vex, or oppress one, on account of his religion. They persecute others who injure their names, reputation, property, or who endanger or take their life, on account of their religious opinions.
For righteousness' sake - Because they are righteous, or are the friends of God. We are not to seek persecution. We are not to provoke it by strange sentiments or conduct; by violating the laws of civil society, or by modes of speech that are unnecessarily offensive to others. But if, in the honest effort to be Christians, and to live the life of Christians, others persecute and revile us, we are to consider this as a blessing. It is an evidence that we are the children of God, and that he will defend us.
"All that live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution," 2 Timothy 3:12 
Theirs is the kingdom of heaven - They have evidence that they are Christians, and that they will be brought to heaven.  

Kirk’s response to above:
Barnes says people are persecuted “on account of his religion,” but this is not what Jesus said.  Our Lord said one is persecuted because of Jesus, and for the sake of righteousness.  These are not religions!  Righteousness/Justice is defending the oppressed, feeding the hungry caring for those who are sick and in prison (Matthew 25.31-46), and to be persecuted because of Jesus means that we have put him first.  When we put Jesus first, others come second.  Your spouse comes second, your children come second, your earthly government, or race, or politics or family … even your church … must come after God/Jesus.  When you do that, others will feel betrayed, and they’ll lash out.

Very rarely do bad guys or our US government "persecute" us.  For example, some say 'they' disallow school prayer, but that’s not true.  They disallow prayer out-loud, in school sponsored events.  You can pray all day if you pray like Jesus commanded – in private (Matthew 6.5-6). Do what Jesus said to do instead of what your religion says to do ... and you'll find out where your persecution comes from.   In our context, almost all of our persecution will come from friends, family, fellow students and colleagues.  As we strive to be increasingly stronger disciples, they will feel slighted and their shortcomings will become evident. 

Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
Blessed are they which are persecuted… not for any crimes they have done, for unrighteousness and iniquity, as murderers, thieves, and evildoers, but for righteousness sake: on account of their righteous and godly conversation, which brings upon them the hatred and enmity of the men of the world: for saints, by living righteously, separate themselves from them, and profess themselves not to belong to them; their religious life sets a brand upon, and distinguishes other persons; yea, it reproves and condemns their wicked lives and practices; and this fills them with wrath against them, and puts them on persecuting them: or by "righteousness" may be meant, a righteous cause, the cause of Christ and his Gospel; for by making a profession of Christ, showing a concern for his interest, and by engaging in a vindication of his person and truths, saints expose themselves to the rage and persecution of men: and particularly, they are persecuted for preaching, maintaining, or embracing, the doctrine of justification by the righteousness of Christ; because it is not of man, nor agreeable to the carnal reason of man; it is opposite to the way of justification, which men naturally receive; it excludes boasting, and is contrary to their carnal and selfish principles: persecution is either verbal with the tongue, by cruel mockings and reproachful language; or real, by deeds, such as confiscation of goods, banishment, imprisonment of body, and innumerable sorts of death: the latter seems here more especially designed, and both are expressed in the following verse; and yet the saints, though thus used, or rather abused, are happy; for theirs is the kingdom of heaven: the same blessedness is predicated of these as of the poor in spirit, ver. 3

A quote that I sometimes share in my classes: 
“The time is always right to do what is right.”
Related verses from NIV:
James 5:11
As you know, we count as blessed those who have persevered. You have heard of Job's perseverance and have seen what the Lord finally brought about. The Lord is full of compassion and mercy.

1 Peter 3:14
But even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed. Do not fear their threats; do not be frightened.

Sharla’s three columns:

1.      Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
2.      Those who do what is right can expect to be persecuted on earth, but heaven will be their perfect, future, eternal home.
3.      I will make a conscious effort to always do the right thing even if doing the right thing is not the easy thing to do.  I will seek God’s will and pray for wisdom at least 3 times every day so that I will know what is right.

Three more things from Kirk:

  1. I hope you'll join Sharla and also contribute thoughts and ideas and scriptures for all to share.  Just email them to me and I'll put an edited version up here for sharing.  
  2. I also hope you'll join me in helping Sharla - and one another - by holding one another accountable for your third column.  With that, we can all grow stronger and more loving every day.  
  3. And speaking of being persecuted for righteousness ... what happens when a brother isn't necessarily persecuting you, but he's so lazy or distracted or filled with anger that he neglects you?  Is brotherly neglect a form of persecution?  Are you your brother's keeper?  

"love one another"

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