For Righteousness' Sake

“Blessed are those who persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 5:10


Matt had been unemployed for a year and recently landed an interview with a local company. Matt was selected for the position, but the employer told him that it was necessary for them to pay him under the table so that the company could save money on taxes and insurance. Although Matt desperately needed the money, he chose to turn down the position because his Christian faith was more important. Matt believed righteousness was better than money.  He was willing to be persecuted for righteousness’ sake.
Christians face decisions every single day that could bring persecution into their life. Whether it is the college freshman who chooses not to drink, or the spouse who refuses to lie on her taxes, or the parents who choose to go to church rather than have their children play in sports on Sunday, they all face decisions that could bring persecution into their lives. Every Christian will one day be faced with a choice to either forsake righteousness or be persecuted. “Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.” (2 Timothy 3:12) The persecution may vary depending on the society. It may be losing the opportunity of career advancement in America or losing your life in Iraq. Although the persecution may vary, the promise of Jesus Christ will never vary or change.
When we face persecution, we must remember Jesus’ words, “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” God’s people need to resolve to choose righteousness. We do not look for persecution, but when given the choice, we should gladly bear persecution for righteousness’ sake. We may lose things in this life, but we gain the kingdom of heaven. Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him. (James 1:12) When we remain firm in the face persecution, we are still blessed.
Do not focus on what you may lose, but what you will gain. We may lose everything, but we gain Christ!! Let us consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus as Lord. Take the sure road of blessing by choosing to suffer for righteousness sake.

Preparing to See God

“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God. (Matthew 5:8)
            My wife thrives in details. She loves schedules and plans. Before taking a long trip, she usually packs the day before while I usually pack ten minutes before we leave. Early in our marriage, we were taking one trip to visit my family in California. As we waited in the line to go through security at the airport, my wife looked at me and asked (as she has done for every flight we have ever taken together), “Do you have your driver’s license?” I reached back and patted my pocket, making my eyes big saying, “Oh no!! I forgot my wallet!!” Her jaw dropped in disbelief, “Are you serious?” Her genuine fear of missing the flight made me quickly confess that I was only kidding. Although I may not love details, even I knew that if I wanted to see my family, I had to have my ticket and my ID. My desire to see my family affected my preparation.

            Do you desire to see God? Does that desire affect how you live? Jesus makes a wonderful promise for those who desire to see God in saying, “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.” There is a requirement for someone who wants to see God; one must be pure in heart. Purity of heart means one lives with integrity, righteousness, and morality driven from sincere motives. The “pure in heart” have a single-minded devotion to live for the glory and honor of Jesus Christ. They are like the blessed man in Psalm 1 who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers. He lives rightly.

            Jesus Christ is the only one who perfectly lived with a pure heart. He committed no sin and lived for the glory of his heavenly Father. And yet, he died in our place so that we would live for righteousness.  The Christian forsakes immorality and sin because they want to see God. The desire to see God overtakes the desire of the flesh. The pleasure of God is more important than the pleasures of sin. The Christian has been justified by Christ death and cleansed to walk in righteousness.

            We all will continue to battle the sinful desires of the flesh, so how do we overtake those desires? We replace our desire for worldly things with a desire to see God. Jesus Christ has said, “Blessed are the pure in heart for they shall see God!!” What is better than seeing God!! If we want to change our behavior, we must to change our desires. Beloved, prepare to see God by striving to live with a pure heart for Jesus Christ, “who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works.” (Titus 2:14)