Another equation enters our
study of the Beatitudes: Real Disciple +
the world = persecution.
Persecutions are the result of living righteously. They are not the result of only talking about it. You should be winning someone over because
of your service, not only the correctness
in what you say! This is the
essential lesson I have learned from the Beatitudes. Read Revelation 2:18,19. What good characteristics did the church of Thyatira have? Read Revelation 3:1-3. What was the church of Sardis known for? Read Revelation 2:8-11. What did their persecution teach us about them? As you can see, true living shows true
conviction. Read through the rest of
what Jesus had to say about the churches at that time in Revelation 1-3. The kind of impact Jesus wants us to have on
the world can only come by radical changes of our hearts and minds that are
evidenced by righteous living. Is there
any evidence of persecution in your life?
Why or why not?
Persecutions can also come
about by our own stupidity. Read 1 Peter 4:15-17. It is interesting to note that the word translated
as “meddler” in the NIV is the Greek word allotriepiskopos. This word means, “overseeing others'
affairs, i.e. a meddler--busybody in other men's matters”. Do you think it possible that your
evangelism could be perceived as this kind of annoyance if done
carelessly? Be careful that you present
the Gospel by your actions and by your gentle speech. Gossip, laziness, tardiness and
irresponsibility are more frequently the causes of our suffering in this world
than righteous persecution. Imagine how
it must look to your co-workers if you live like that and then try to preach to
them the truth! The kind of persecution
Jesus is talking about in the Beatitudes obviously doesn’t stem from this kind
of behavior or attitude. Those of us
persecuted because of UN-righteousness are not happy (blessed). We are bothered, embittered and
self-justified. This is not fruit of
the Spirit! Read Galatians 5:22-24. These actions will invariably produce
persecution if practiced constantly! Make a list of the things that are
causing you to suffer, or that bother you.
Identify which ones are because of righteousness and which ones aren’t.
Jesus was controlled by God’s
love, not by the circumstances around Him.
He glorified God by using His
life to make a difference in other people’s lives--He was not used by life. Read Romans 12:12-21.
To rise above trials and afflictions as a Christian, you need to: (1)
Always pray (2) Reach out to those you
see in affliction (3) Persevere in
patience by trusting the Lord (4)
Cultivate a positive attitude of joy, in hope and humility; not vengeful or
bitter. These things can be
accomplished if you let the Counselor (Greek: Parakletos: comforter, advocate) within you comfort you and guide
14:15-18). Read Romans 8:28.
Do you believe and trust that God is working through every circumstance
in your life? What two conditions need
to exist in order for your situations to work out for the best? If you are a hypocrite, will things work out
for your best? If you are a liar and a
cheat, are the things happening in your life the result of loving God? You could say that it depended on whether or
not you are open to God’s correction. If
you are, God will use all your circumstances to guide you to Him. If you’re not, then you, too, will perish!
Entrusting yourself to God
requires you to look beyond the physical clamor that surrounds you and focus on
the spiritual reality that permeates and transcends space and time. Your
afflictions can only affect your physical dimension. Don’t let them affect your
spiritual one. Read Hebrews 4:15-16. Why is it that you are able to
approach God with confidence? Have you been willing to entrust yourself to such
a caring friend as Jesus is? Read 2 Corinthians 4:16-18. Compared to Jesus’
afflictions, how do you rate yours? Will you lose heart (grow weary) if you
focus on the fact that you are being renewed inwardly (spiritually)? Will
focusing on your external circumstances cause you to grow weary? Why? Does your
idea of being joyful have to do with being physically comfortable, or do you
rejoice in the fact that you will have an eternal glory that will blow away any
trouble or affliction you suffered on Earth?
1:12-16. If something in your life is tempting you, what is the true
root cause of the temptation? If you
give in to the temptations, will you be blessed because you persevered? Don’t be deceived, only he who perseveres
will be blessed!