Persecuted for Righteousness' Sake
by Henry M. Morris, Ph.D.
“Blessed are ye, when men shall hate you, and when they shall separate you from their company, and shall reproach you, and cast out your name as evil, for the Son of man’s sake.” (Luke 6:22)
“Blessed” means “happy,” and it would seem paradoxical to try to find happiness by being persecuted. Most Christians are extremely reluctant to do anything which might make them less popular with their peers, let alone anything which might lead to social ostracism or even physical suffering. Yet Jesus said that this is the way to find true happiness.
He did not say that blessing comes through suffering for foolishness’ sake, or for carelessness’ sake, or for sinfulness’ sake; “Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake” (Matthew 5:10). The principle is amplified by Peter: “If ye be reproached for the name of Christ, happy are ye. . . . But let none of you suffer as a murderer, or as a thief, or as an evildoer, or as a busybody in other men’s matters. Yet if any man suffer as a Christian, let him not be ashamed; but let him glorify God on this behalf” (1 Peter 4:14-16).
It hurts, of course, to be “cast out—as evil,” when one is sincerely seeking to do right and to honor God. This was the experience of the blind man to whom Jesus gave sight. The religious authorities responded to his testimony with: “Thou wast altogether born in sins, and dost thou teach us? And they cast him out” (John 9:34). Nevertheless, he now could see! Likewise, the religious leaders “raised up persecution against Paul and Barnabas, and expelled them out of their coasts.” Nevertheless, “the disciples were filled with joy, and with the Holy Ghost” (Acts 13:50, 52).
The situation exists today in many countries—soon perhaps in America. If so, may the Lord enable us to honor His name in suffering with joy and without compromise, for “Christ also suffered for us” (1 Peter 2:21). HMM