Rejoice because your reward is in heaven
Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
“Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.” – Matthew 5:10-12
The people of God down through the ages have suffered persecution for their faith in God. David, Elijah, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Zechariah, John the Baptist, prophets of God, suffered persecution because they trusted God.
During the early church, the Christians, particularly in Rome, suffered horrible torture for their faith. Some of Jesus’ disciples and early church fathers such as James the brother of John; Philip, Peter, and St. Paul, suffered a martyr’s death.
During the reign of Nero, the tyrannical Roman Emperor, who governed between 54-68 AD, the Christians suffered dreadful persecutions. Some were wrapped in pitch and set ablaze. Others were used as human torches to light Nero’s Garden. Many were fed to ferocious wild animals. They suffered this horrible death because of their faith.
Today in our world, Satan and his demons constantly move against the people of God. There are places in the world where Christians suffer daily for their faith. Prayers go up daily for Christians in such places.
In our own part of the world, governments are moving against the church through the immoral laws that they pass. So, even though we may not live in places in the world where Christians are being martyred, we are still being persecuted. God’s people are constantly under attack, in all corners of the universe.
Our Lord tells us in the text that we will be persecuted for our faith. We will be persecuted for righteousness. No, this persecution will not come because of some principle or cause, whether political or religious. It will come because of righteousness.
Scripture tells us in Matthew 10:22, “You will be hated by all because of my name, but it is the one who has endured to the end who will be saved.” Don’t worry that the world hates you. They persecuted the prophets before you.
Therefore, “If anyone suffers as a Christian, he is not to be ashamed, but is to glorify God in this time.” (I Peter 4:16) Notwithstanding the persecution of the church by the world, she has remained focused.
Even though you may experience trials and tribulations here on earth, in this world of sin and woe, rejoice. Yes, rejoice because your reward is not here on earth, it is in heaven. Heaven is your home.
Yes, my brothers and sisters, rejoice, because you are among God’s great men of faith. Rejoice because you are in good company.
Heavenly rewards are not always apparent in life as we know it, nonetheless, they are present. I know of Christians who have lived through illness, grief, and other hardships with grace. They relied on God for strength and comfort and have subsequently become pillars of strength and comfort for others. Amen.
• Reverend Samuel M. Boodle, pastor at the Lutheran Church of Nassau, 119 John F. Kennedy Dr can be reached at P.O. Box N 4794, Nassau, Bahamas; or telephone 426-9084; website: www.nassaulutheranchurch.org.