Matthew 5:10 Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Standing up for what is right is not always an easy thing to put into practice. In fact, in this present culture, there are those who would say, “What is right?” The waters of righteousness can become clouded by deception and misdirection. Out of that cloudiness can come persecution to the person who is standing in true righteousness against the relative view of what is right. To know what is right and true can create an atmosphere of persecution.
As an educator, I deal with students who stand for what is right. Many times I observe these types of situations and have to counsel students as they are shunned or socially punished because their decision may have caused discomfort or trouble for those who did not stand for what is right. The blessing God speaks of is not always immediate. Many times, the person who has stood for what is right, has to endure this persecution to the point of questioning, “Did I do the right thing?”
As Christians in this culture, many are taking stands for righteousness and are being persecuted through hateful dialogue and accusations of closed mindedness. We watch our country’s moral decay continues to spiral downward and decide to speak up. This is met with strong opposition that mirrors the intolerance the persecutors claim that Christians are living under.
I was always told and continued the message to others that it is never wrong to stand for what is right. I believe that in the back of my mind as I proclaimed this message was this verse from Matthew 5:10. For one to stand for what is right is not always comfortable or popular as I have noted in examples above. However, I have always believed that blessings would be rewarded for standing in the right. I do not claim to have stood for the right thing in every case; for whatever reason (fear, ignorance, or just plain sinfulness). Because of those decisions I reaped (and sometimes still reap) the consequences of not standing for what is right. I have come to believe the consequences of persecution outweigh the consequences (or perceived rewards) of not standing for what is right.
Jesus promises the kingdom of heaven for those who are persecuted for righteousness sake. I have made mentioned before in other writings that this kingdom is both now and in the future. The future is the heaven described after our death. This kingdom is the one we are storing up treasures in for the afterlife. Some of the persecution for righteousness we suffer now will have great eternal blessing.
I also believe that there are blessings in the current kingdom on earth. Amidst the persecution, I know that my character is intact because of what I have stood for. Even though it may be painful and uncomfortable to deal with the persecution, I can rest well in my conscience that I have stayed within my character based on Jesus’ character. At times, standing for what is right throughout a situation will be rewarded in the end. When the situation has run its course and right has prevailed, the one standing in righteousness will be rewarded in some way.
I do want to briefly give warning about self-righteousness. If I am to stand for what is right, I am to make my stand according to a righteousness that is outside of me, a higher authority, Christ. For me to stand for what is right based solely on my need be right does not reap blessing.
Now, more than any time in our history, it is time to stand for God’s righteousness. We must do this in a loving way. Follow Christ’s example of righteousness and know that we are blessed.
1. On what do you base your righteousness? Explain.
2. Describe a time when you have been persecuted for standing up for what is right.
3. Have you seen a blessing from that stand? What was it?
4. This week, observe where righteousness is being championed and what persecutions follow. Make note of the cloudy and misdirecting statements around the persecution.
5. Take a stand for righteousness this week. Pay attention to what God is doing as you step into this action.
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