Devotional: ‘Suffering For Righteousness Sake’

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In recent days we are hearing of people being beheaded because of their faith in Christ. According to one resource, in the two thousand years of Christianity, about 70 million believers have given their lives for the faith. Of this 70 million, 45.5 million (65%) were martyred during the 20th century. [1] In other words, nearly 7 out of every 10 people who have died because they were a Christian – did so in the last century. Many believe that persecution will become even more prevalent as we draw closer and closer to the end of time.

Consider these words of our Savior.

John 15:18 If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you. 19 If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you. 20 Remember the word that I said unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord. If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you; if they have kept my saying, they will keep yours also.

According to Christ, a sure sign that we are one of true His followers is that we are being hated and mistreated for our faith. That is not to say that we should desire persecution or go looking for it, but that it is a natural consequence of identifying ourselves with what is right in a world that loves what is wrong. Our light of truth is offensive to those who choose to live in darkness and our salt of purity burns in their infected sores.

Jesus not only warned us of coming persecution, He also encouraged us to embrace it.

Matthew 5:10 Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 11 Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. 12 Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.

There is a great reward awaiting those who unashamedly identify themselves with Christ. Among those who will receive such honor will be a prophet named Jeremiah.

Jeremiah 20:1 Pashhur the priest, the son of Immer and chief officer in the house of the Lord, heard Jeremiah prophesying these things. 2 So Pashhur had Jeremiah the prophet beaten and put him in the stocks at the Upper Benjamin Gate in the Lord’s temple. CSB

Pashhur was a Jewish priest who had been assigned the task of serving in the Temple. Yet Pashhur was not a righteous man. He was a false prophet who did not know God and who used his office to bring himself personal gain and glory. Jeremiah’s preaching of a coming judgment angered Pashhur. It was too negative for him and his foolish followers. Therefore he had Jeremiah arrested, beaten and then chained in stocks.

Passhur did what he did to not only punish Jeremiah, but to make him the object of public ridicule. No doubt many passed by Jeremiah and mocked him; yet little did they know that God was praising him. The Bible says that during the stoning of another martyr named Stephen, our Lord stood in his honor. (Acts 7:55-56)

I guess it all boils down to whose approval we value the most: that of men or that of God.

[1] http://www.ewtn.com/vnews/getstory.asp?number=26402

 

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