Stewarding the Beatitudes – #6 Blessed Are Those Who Are Persecuted

By Dr. Scott Rodin    

February 16, 2024

This is the last in our six-part series looking at the Beatitudes through the lens of our steward theology. Our premise is that the blessed or happy life Jesus is announcing comes through the fully surrendered life of the steward. Each Beatitude depicts an aspect of this stewarded life. To help us, we are considering the correlates to the Beatitudes – what we might call the Bad-Attitudes. This week we will look at verses 10-12.

Matthew 5:10-12

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.


Miserable are those who compromise the Gospel to escape being persecuted, for they have forfeited their place in the kingdom.

This week marks the beginning of Lent. It’s a good week to consider Jesus’ paradoxical teaching that those who are persecuted are blessed. He encourages us to rejoice and be glad when people say evil things about us and persecute us falsely. In a ‘misery loves company’ kind of comment we are given the consolation that our persecution will be ranked with the prophets. This is a consistent theme for Jesus. He minces no words in teaching that we cannot follow him and not face persecution.

If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. Remember the word that I said to you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you. If they keep my word, they will also keep yours. John 15:19–20.

Peter knew it,

Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed. If you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you (1 Peter 4:12–14).

So did Paul,

 In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted (1 Timothy 3:12).

These verses do not tell us that we should seek persecution, but they also instruct us not to avoid it either. It’s not likely we struggle with the former. But can we actually embrace the painful experience of having people falsely accuse us, say evil about us and insult us?

Nowhere is the magnitude of the dissonance between owner and steward more acute than in the way we answer this question. The heart of the issue if our identity.

When we fall to an ownership attitude of life, we affix our identity on external sources of affirmation and an internal desire to find meaning in roles and titles. Clutching to our reputation and hungering for the affirmations that buoy our self-worth, we are left vulnerable and ill-prepared for conflict and confrontation. Therefore, we will avoid it at all costs. Here are five strategies for avoiding conflict as owner-Christians in this culture.

  1. Keep your faith to yourself and try not to offend anyone. Treat your faith as a private matter (just as the world is telling you to). You have no right to push your beliefs on anyone so keep them quiet, just between you and God. No matter what, never say anything about faith or religion that might offend someone. That wouldn’t be Christian.
  2. Conform to the standards of the world. Outside of your privatized faith, owners will do best to align their values with the prevailing cultural norms. If such values conflict with your faith, quietly and politely choose to avoid them as much as possible. Or, better yet, use them to question and deconstruct your faith so that it better serves you in living peaceably with and in this culture. No one needs to know anyway.
  3. Be tolerant and accepting of sin. After all, the Bible tells us not to be judgmental, so who are we to call something sinful. That’s God’s work. Owners will focus on their agenda which includes maintaining a happy lifestyle by controlling what they can. And tolerating what some call sin is something we can choose to do.
  4. Focus on heaven and let the earth go to hell. If acceptance doesn’t work, there is always cynicism. What really can we do anyway? We believe in Jesus and have our place in our heavenly mansion reserved, so let’s not be burdened by the small stuff. Try to live your life as a good person, get along with everyone as well as you can, and let the world do what it’s going to do with you or without you. Stay at a distance, don’t get entangled in ugly issues and wait out your life being as happy as you can. And that certainly means avoiding conflict.
  5. Stop reading God’s word or reconstruct it to say what you need it to say. The Bible is a messy book, always pushing us to do things that are difficult and believing things that are unpopular at best, and downright offensive at worst. If we read it, let’s choose the parts we like, parts that affirm our views and give us assurance and comfort. And those hard teachings and unpopular truths, well, there are people who will assure us we don’t need to take those seriously. Thank goodness for the internet. One quick search will reveal numerous ‘experts’ who will affirm that either the hard texts are no longer relevant, or that the latest textual analysis has rendered them more compatible to the views of our culture. Either way, avoiding persecution requires a careful use of scripture lest we become fanatical Bible thumpers.

As I write these five ways to avoid persecution, I am reminded of the last list of sins in the Bible that will keep people from inheriting the kingdom of God. The list in Revelation 21:8 starts with the cowardly. Might it be that cowardice is akin to making friends with the world? Might God be pouring His anger at those who claim to be His children while accommodating His word and compromising His truth in order to blend into a wicked culture? Remember our Bad Attitude,

Miserable are those who compromise the Gospel to escape being persecuted, for they have forfeited their place in the kingdom.

We can strive to avoid persecution in these ways, but we run the risk of being named with the cowards who denied Christ and lost the kingdom of God.

Jesus challenges us to equate blessedness, happiness and rejoicing with the persecution that comes from faithfulness, obedience, and discipleship. I believe we must live as surrendered stewards if we are to fully live this way. When we relinquish identity, control, relationships, and the stuff of this world to God, we are prepared to live for him in the kind of selfless way he requires, and one that inevitably will put us in conflict with the world. Let me conclude with a parallel steward’s version of the five points above. To rejoice in persecution:

  1. Live your faith. Be ready to give an account of those who ask you about the hope you have (1 Peter 3:15). Refuse to ever deny him (Matthew 10:33). Be a disciple-maker (Matthew 28:16-30). Be an ambassador (2 Corinthians 5:20). Proclaim the coming of the kingdom of God. Be persecuted and rejoice.
  2. Be transformed by the renewing of your mind (Romans 12:2-3). Live the values of the KOG (Matthew 5). Speak the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15). Be persecuted and rejoice.
  3. Follow the Bible’s command to hate sin[1]. Understand that the strategy of the enemy is to make sin normal and refuse to buy it. When the unthinkable becomes the unquestionable, question it anyway. Stand against the deconstructionist agenda and those who Paul said would not put up with sound doctrine but, “look to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear” (2 Timothy 4:3). Stand against them, be persecuted and rejoice
  4. Let heaven be your confident hope but answer the call to be salt and light in this world. Don’t let cynicism and skepticism cause you to withdraw. Stay engaged, let Gods kingdom come through you. Be persecuted and rejoice.
  5. Immerse yourself in God’s word. Follow the Holy Spirit and don’t explain away hard teachings. Let scripture modify culture and not the other way around. Embrace the whole Gospel. Be persecuted and rejoice.

Hear Jesus again say to you, blessed are you when people persecute you because of me. Rejoice and be glad. Your reward is in heaven, and your life on earth will be fulfilling and rich. That is the calling of the faithful steward.

I hope you have been encouraged and blessed by this series on the Beatitudes. I pray these blogs will be a companion to you as you walk these days of your Lenten journey.

[1] There are over two dozen scripture verses that talk of hating sin. Here are a few as example; Psalm 97:10, Amos 5:15, Romans 12:9, Exodus 18:21, Psalm 119:158, Psalm 139:21, Psalm 139:22, Ezekiel 35:6

Dr. Scott Rodin    

Dr. Rodin is the Founder and Content Expert of the Center for Steward Leader Studies. He also serves as President of Kingdom Life Publishing and Rodin Consulting Inc.

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