“Blessed are those who have been persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. “
Jesus our Lord calls those who suffer persecution happy. He gives them possession of his kingdom. But not all suffering is blessed. What kind of suffering is blessed?
First, it is not
1. suffering for crimes. When you commit theft and are punished for it, that is not righteous suffering.
2. suffering for doing evil such as being a busy body. Being hated for being a nosy meddler in other people's affairs is not righteous suffering. We should not be bishops in someone else's diocese.
3. suffering to boost our pride or ego. If you are serving a good cause for your own name sake, it is not blessed persecution. You already have your reward in full.
4. suffering that we intentionally try to bring ourselves- a martyrs complex. We don't chase after persecution, doing things for the sole hope of being persecuted. God is sovereign over persecution and trying to force his hand is a tempting of the Lord.
Rather Blessed Suffering is suffering for the sake of Righteousness.
So how do you know if you are suffering for righteousness sake?
1. God alone is truly righteous, so he determines what is a good cause.
2. God’s law is righteous, therefore any good cause must conform to his law.
3. God’s wisdom is needed to know a righteous cause. (Proverbs 2:9) You can have zeal for the law of God but without wisdom in knowing when and how to apply it, you can become like the Jews who had zeal for the law but no knowledge and therefore they crucified Christ and persecuted the apostles.
A lack of wisdom may cause you to become zealous for causes that are not the causes of righteousness. There is a temptation to become more passionate about causes that are really preferences than actual righteousness. We become evangelists for causes that are not the cause of Christ and then become a busybody or worse a murderer.
Zeal without knowledge has wreaked havoc throughout history, often having lasting unintended but devastating consequences. For example, Jim Brown in the 1800s had a zeal to end slavery. Brown advocated the use of armed insurrection to overthrow the institution of slavery. In October of 1859, Brown led a raid on the federal armory at Harpers Ferry, Virginia (today West Virginia), intending to start a slave liberation movement that would spread south. He quickly took the armory, but seven people were killed, the first one dead being Hayward Shepherd, a recently freed black man shot by one of Brown’s men. The people he intended to help were made worse off. The slave revolt didn’t happen but what did happen was that this assault aggravated the division in the States and led to succession, the bloodiest war on American soil, a ripping asunder any notion of the United States as federated under the US constitution, bringing terrorism onto the south that left it impoverished for decades and putting in terrible policies which have bloated the federal government, centralizing power in the hands of a few. Furthermore, the abolitionists full of zeal became feminists who became prohibitionists. Prohibition was a complete disaster and has harmed the cause for biblical law to be the foundation of civil government for a century. Feminism still destroys everything it touches. Zeal without wisdom and obedience to the law of God is dangerous.
A righteous cause has God as it author, his word as the standard, and his wisdom in applying it. Furthermore it has his glory as its end or purpose. Therefore we face blessed suffering when we suffer for a righteous cause. We can rejoice and be glad when we face this type of suffering.
What causes are you facing suffering for? It is because you proud and zealous, lacking wisdom. Is it because you are zealous for causes that are not the Lord's? Is it because you are doing evil? Is it because you rush to judgement? If it is is this type of suffering than weep and mourn because you are storing up judgement.
But if you are boldly, faithfully, joyfully, persistently and obediently following the cause of Christ and you suffer, rejoice and be glad. Your reward is bountiful and stored in a place where no persecutor can get to take it away.