The Beatitudes - Persecuted for Righteousness' Sake

Barbara Montrose
August 31, 2017
"Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness' sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you" (Matthew 5:10–12).

Called, and Chosen, and Faithful

 

Cherishing the call of God

“Many be called, but few chosen” (Matthew 20:16).

 

Christ gave this thought-provoking declaration to conclude the parable of the householder who hired laborers early in the morning to work throughout the day in his vineyard. The laborers agreed to work for a penny.

 

Later, at the third, sixth, ninth, and eleventh hour, the householder extended the call to

others and promised to pay whatever was right.

 

Finally, at the end of the day, when the householder gave every man a penny, the ones who had worked since early morning and had borne the burden and heat of the day complained when the same amount was given to others who had worked as little as one hour.

 

“But [the goodman of the house] answered one of them, and said, Friend, I do thee no wrong: didst not thou agree with me for a penny? Take that thine is, and go thy way: I will give unto this last, even as unto thee. Is it not lawful for me to do what I will with mine own? Is thine eye evil, because I am good? So the last shall be first, and the first last: for many be called, but few chosen” (Matthew 20:13–16).

 

The Lord has called us out of darkness into His marvelous light—and we should be truly thankful for His gracious call. When Christ dwelt on the earth as the Son of man, those who had been entrusted with the light of heaven hoarded it to themselves and looked upon others with scorn and disdain. This is why Jesus warned that those who are called first are not to look down upon the labor of those called later. The timeless lesson was clear: All who thus harbor a wrong attitude against others do not end up among His chosen.

 

Appreciating God’s willingness to help

Two chapters after the parable of the householder, Christ repeats a similar declaration: “For many are called, but few are chosen” (Matthew 22:14). This time, He is speaking of a man who came to a wedding feast without the special garment supplied to him. Yes, he had been called, but his lack of appreciation for the wedding garment prevented him from being chosen. Instead, he was cast into outer darkness.

 

“The parable of the wedding garment opens before us a lesson of the highest consequence. By the marriage is represented the union of humanity with divinity; the wedding garment represents the character which all must possess who shall be accounted fit guests for the wedding.”—Christ’s Object Lessons, p. 307.

 

“The man who came to the feast without a wedding garment represents the condition of many in our world today. They profess to be Christians, and lay claim to the blessings and privileges of the gospel; yet they feel no need of a transformation of character. They have never felt true repentance for sin. They do not realize their need of Christ or exercise faith in Him. They have not overcome their hereditary or cultivated tendencies to wrongdoing.”—Ibid., p. 315.

 

“For unto you it is given in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for his sake” (Philippians 1:29).

 

The cup, the baptism

Christ’s piercing question resonates to all whom He has called today: “Are ye able to drink of the cup that I shall drink of, and to be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with?” (Matthew 20:22).

 

“How many can answer: We can drink of the cup; we can be baptized with the baptism; and make the answer understandingly? How many imitate the great Exemplar? All who have professed to be followers of Christ have, in taking this step, pledged themselves to walk even as He walked. Yet the course of many who make high professions of the truth shows that they make but little reference to the Pattern in conforming their lives thereto. They shape their course to meet their own imperfect standard. They do not imitate the self-denial of Christ or His life of sacrifice for others’ good.”—Testimonies, vol. 2, p. 32.

 

“Christ lived, not to gratify Himself, but to do good, to save others from suffering, to help those who most needed help. The bitter cup was apportioned to us to drink. Our sins mingled it. But our dear Saviour took the cup from our lips and drank it Himself.”—The Watchman, February 11, 1908.

 

Persecuted for righteousness’ sake

When we accept unpopular truth for the honor of Christ, we—like our Master—become targets of the enemy of all righteousness.

 

“Those who love the truth, and will cling to their Bibles, will have trials and persecutions to meet. In all ages the defenders of the faith have realized the truth of the apostle's words: ‘All that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution’ (2 Timothy 3:12). But there have ever been some who have stood unmoved in their adherence to principle, and have refused to yield their faith to save their lives. The early Reformers were of this number. When urged to accept tradition and the commandments of men in place of the word of God, these men, firmly grasping their Bibles, replied, ‘Here is the foundation of our faith. Show us from the Bible that we are in error, and we will willingly renounce our doctrines.’ But their enemies knew that if the Bible were to decide the matter, they would be condemned; for they had not a plain ‘Thus saith the Lord’ for the doctrines they held. They therefore refused to bring their views to the test of God’s word, and tried to wrench the Scriptures from the hands of the defenders of the faith.”—The Signs of the Times, November 26, 1885.

 

“Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness' sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you” (Matthew 5:10–12).

 

On an occasion when the Lord’s messenger in these last days was falsely slandered while in the call of duty, she exclaimed: “Jesus, the Saviour of the world, was reproached and falsely accused, and these words seemed ever before me, ‘Are ye able to drink of the cup?’ Can ‘ye be baptized with the baptism?’ I felt, as I was bowed before the Lord, that I could say, Let me know the fellowship of Christ's sufferings. . . . I fully believed that Jesus was soon to come, and then my name, which was handled so maliciously here, would be justified. I there consecrated myself, my name and all, to God, and with reconciliation could say, Only let my poor name be written in the Lamb’s book of life, and men may handle it just as God suffers them. Let me suffer with Christ that I may reign with Him.”—Spiritual Gifts, vol. 2, pp. 70, 71. 

 

Enduring to the end

The Lord gives the assurance: “Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit” (John 15:16). “Because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold. But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved” (Matthew 24:12, 13).

 

“Brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall: For so an entrance shall be ministered unto you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Wherefore I will not be negligent to put you always in remembrance of these things, though ye know them, and be established in the present truth” (2 Peter 1:10–12).

 

“[The Lamb of God] is Lord of lords, and King of kings: and they that are with him are called, and chosen, and faithful” (Revelation 17:14).

 

May the Lord help us to be in that blessed company, whatever the cost!