Following Jesus May Cause Persecution, but It Also Makes You Happy

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Think back to a time you had to make a decision. Not just any decision, but one that left you with two choices, one clearly good and the other clearly bad. Maybe it was back in junior high when your best friend forgot to study for a test and wanted to cheat off of yours. Or, it could have been in your job when you overheard coworkers gossiping about others and invited you to join. Whatever you decided, there was a cost. If you didn’t help your friend on his test, he would stop hanging out with you. If you didn’t join in on the gossip, your coworkers might talk about you, too.

In Matthew 5, Jesus teaches the crowd and his disciples about living a life as a follower. Jesus begins his teachings with “Blessed.” Blessed refers to the ultimate wellbeing and spiritual joy of those who share in the salvation of the kingdom of God. But it’s not as simple as we would like to think. In verse 10, he says, “Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” Jesus is explaining that we will ultimately be happy by being persecuted for doing the right thing, making the right decision, or saying the right words. Andy Stanley makes a great point by saying, “You are going to suffer for doing the right or wrong thing but you can only be happy on one end of the equation.” Either way, each decision comes with a cost.

Jesus goes on to say in verses 11 and 12, “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” (capitalization mine). Making the right decision based on your faith in Jesus Christ is going to give you happiness and peace with yourself and God. “If you suffer for doing the wrong thing, you won’t have peace with yourself or with God” (Stanley). We will be persecuted, made fun of, and mistreated because of our faith, but rejoice in that, because a reward is coming for being faithful and defending the gospel.

Jesus says in John 16:33, “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world!” He is telling us we will absolutely be on the frontlines of difficulties and in the midst of hard decisions, but it is worth it. We will eventually reap the reward of happiness. It’s a process, not an immediate outcome. Jesus has overcome the world, and while the battles are not over, we already have victory.

What difficult decision are you currently facing? What are the costs?

 

What steps can you make toward the right decision?

 

Prayer:

Lord, thank you for your promise of peace and happiness when making the right decisions for you and for our faith. Help me to make the right decisions in the future and to stand firm in you. Amen.


This post was written by Rachel Marroquin, a regular contributor to the LivingItOut Daily Bible Study.


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