Blessed are those who are persecuted for doing that which is morally right, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
This life is a two-sided coin. On one side, we have the force of destruction. On the other side, we have the force that gives life. These forces are kingdoms that have recruited armies to fight for their causes. We have the option to fight for one army or the other. Even if we believe we have selected no side, we have been recruited from birth. Being born into sin means that our default is to be on the side of destruction. It is only natural to expect that those who conform to the enemy’s army would be accepted by the world. Likewise, we would expect that those who stand against the forces of evil around us would be opposed. The same way that this world rewards us for upholding its wickedness, the kingdom of God rewards us exponentially greater for upholding its righteousness. You see, the reward received from the world is no reward at all. However, the reward received from God is all we can hope for.
Our Father in heaven is incredibly gracious. We follow him and obey him for one simple reason: He is worthy of our obedience and worship. We have no case to argue for a reward for following him. Notwithstanding this fact, God desires to and finds joy in rewarding his children for their faithfulness. Today’s verse paints the picture of God’s joy at our sacrifice in the name of righteousness. When we are persecuted for upholding the rules of his kingdom and defending the force that gives life, we have sacrificed ourselves for God’s cause. We have taken a stand against the enemy right in the midst of his encampment. We are in his territory as He is the ruler of this world, but we desire to make the sacrifice because God is worthy. While that reason is sufficient, our Father in heaven recognizes our obedience and rewards us with his kingdom. When we sacrifice ourselves to obey God, we make a sacrifice that is truly worthy of his kingdom.
If we are not careful, our Christian walk can be consumed with the thought of losing much in this world because of our faith. Sometimes we decide not to stand for that which is godly because we would rather not deal with the repercussions we will feel from the world. However, even if the penalty for standing on righteous morality is death, we have lost nothing in sacrificing ourselves for righteous obedience to God. It is an unfair trade off. We lose our lives in this world, and He rewards us with life in a kingdom greater than we could imagine. Not only that, this kingdom has no end. Enduring a temporary sacrifice of a temporary shadow of life comes with the reward of eternal and perfect life in an eternal and perfect kingdom. That is the goodness that we serve. Father, thank You for rewarding those who are persecuted in your name, and keep us focused on your kingdom when those times are upon us.