“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."

It can be difficult for Christians to believe we might suffer because we are God’s people. For believers who have never faced persecution, these verses mean we should have a willingness to endure mistreatment because of faith in Jesus. What reward did Jesus promise the persecuted? The kingdom of heaven will belong to them. This is the same blessing He promised at the end of the first Beatitude (Matt 5:3).

Through these statements, Jesus both encouraged and warned His disciples that as they pursued God, they would meet persecution. Although this is not something anyone wants to endure, it’s a clear sign of a faithful life.

Persecution should not lead us to ever think that God does not care about us. On the contrary, we should see it as a grace that God has considered us worthy to suffer for Him. Persecution comes with the implication that people see enough of Christ in you to stand against you. When our brothers and sisters around the world are persecuted for loving Jesus, it is evidence that they are honoring Christ with their lives.

• Would you say that a person who exemplifies the first seven Beatitudes (Matt 5:3-9) would naturally be someone who would experience the persecution Jesus describes in verses 10-12? Why?

• How can we be informed about the struggles that other Christians face around the world? Why is this important?

• Pick a specific country, and pray for your fellow brothers and sisters in Christ who are undergoing persecution there. Ask God to give you the same faithfulness to Him on a daily basis.