“Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” Matt 5:10 NIV
How is this possible? Aren’t blessings and persecution antithetical? Wouldn’t we rather say, “blessed are you when everyone likes you, follows you, and when your friend requests keep rolling in?”
What is persecution? Insults, slander, abuse, and mistreatment that result in disenfranchisement, loss of standing, loss of income, pain, hunger, nakedness, humiliation, and even death.
How can you live your life according to Kingdom wisdom and Kingdom principles and suffer like that? Paul and Silas could have said, “we have followed you, we have obeyed your word, and here we are beaten and shackled in a gentile jail, sitting in our own excrement and with flies licking the open wounds on our backs.” (Acts 16).
Here’s what happened: Paul (an Apostle and businessman himself) challenged the power structure of wickedness in the city’s marketplace. We read that a demonized servant girl, “earned a great deal of money for her owners by fortune-telling.” When Paul broke that stronghold in Jesus’ name, persecution broke out against him and Silas.
Persecution is proportional to the boldness of our witness and the socio-political power of wickedness. Even a bold witness isn’t persecuted much in a godly city. But when darkness gains sway, those who live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution (2 Tim 3:12). This especially comes into play for many of us in the workplace context.
Paul and Silas could have seen themselves as cursed, but that’s not what they did! Like the other Apostles (Acts 5:41), they rejoiced that they were counted worthy to suffer dishonor for the name. They sang, they praised God, and God moved! When we rejoice in suffering, it’s transformational – it releases warfare against the darkness! If we are going to live out the wisdom of heaven in this life, we need to count the costs, and ask the Lord to baptize us with boldness for His name’s sake.
Adapted from Blessed2Bless: Applying the Timeless Wisdom of the Divine Entrepreneur to Your Life and Business.