Have you ever been persecuted for your faith in Christ? If so, here are four godly responses to being persecuted.
This might be the hardest response to make when someone attacks you, calls you names, and despises you, but Jesus clearly commands us to“bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you” (Luke 6:28). Jesus answers why we bless those who hate us, mistreat us, and curse us by saying “so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust” (Matt. 5:45). Paul follows that up by writing “bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse” (Rom. 12:14). Peter wrote, “Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult. On the contrary, repay evil with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing” (1 Pet. 3:9).
Pray for Them
Why do we pray for someone who hates us and curses us? Jesus commands us to. We are to “pray for those who persecute you” (Matt 5:44). This is not optional. Why do this? Because they need the Spirit of God to convict them of their sin. Can they be blamed? No. They are held captive by the god of this present world, who has blinded their minds, so the Gospel is still veiled to them (2 Cor. 4:4). It’s like expecting a blind man to see the cliff he’s approaching. He cannot be told to turn from what he does not see. All you and I can do for our enemies is pray that God saves them and opens their eyes. Even those who nailed Jesus to the cross didn’t know what they were doing (Luke 23:34).
Jesus prayed on the cross while they were still crucifying Him, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34). Can you even imagine that after they had beaten, tortured, spit on, scorned, ridiculed, and, finally, crucified Him, being completely innocent, that Jesus would still ask the Father to forgive them? They really didn’t know what they were doing and to Whom they were doing it. God has forgiven us so much more than we will ever have to forgive someone else. So forgive those who persecute you because that is a god-like attribute.
“Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you” (Matt. 5:44). Luke writes, “But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked” (Luke 6:35). Even after Stephen was stoned to death for something that was not sin, he cried out, “’Lord, do not hold this sin against them.’ When he had said this, he fell asleep” (Acts 7:60).
The fact is that “all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted” (2 Tim. 3:12), and “if the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. 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” (John 15:18-19). I would rather be hated by the world and loved by God than loved by the world and not by God. We should respond to persecution by asking God to bless our persecutors; praying that they might be saved; forgiving them, for they don’t really know what they’re doing; and loving them because “God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Rom. 5:8).
May God richly bless you,
Pastor Jack Wellman
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