Rejoicing Though Reviled

Bible Book: Matthew  5 : 10-12
Subject: Persecution; Trials; Hardships; Faithfulness

Rejoicing Though Reviled

Dr. J. Mike Minnix, editior,

Matthew 5:10-12

The following humorous story appears in the autobiography of Clarence E. Macartney: As two men were walking through a field one day, they spotted an enraged bull. Instantly they darted toward the nearest fence, but the storming bull followed in hot pursuit, and it was soon apparent they wouldn't make it to safety. Terrified, the one shouted to the other, "Put up a prayer, John. We're in for it!" John answered, "I can't. I've never made a public prayer in my life." His companion implored him, "But you must! The bull is catching up to us." John said, "All right, I'll say the only prayer I know, the one my father used to repeat at the table: 'O Lord, for what we are about to receive, make us truly thankful.'"

This fictitious story suggests a valuable truth, that no matter how severe the trial, Christians can give thanks in everything. Certainly that is what Jesus spoke of in the text we are looking at this evening. So we are going to look tonight at Matthew 5:10-12, and consider the words from Jesus in The Sermon on the Mount regarding persecution and our call to faith and faithfulness through it all.

The Jews had the idea that when the Messiah came He would arrive as mighty warrior and deliver them from the invaders - the Romans. They loved the miracles of Jesus but they did not want to hear the truth about their souls. Jesus was actually throwing cold water on the hopes and ideas as to what the people thought the Messiah would be by telling them that suffering, and persecution was to be part of their calling. They thought that when the Messiah came they would be proud, powerful conquerors. Jesus told them they were to be poor in spirit, mourning, meek, forgiving, and ready to endure great hardship. Jesus was telling them the truth, but they certainly were shocked by what He had to say.

Jesus was always completely honest. He never told people what they wanted to hear but shared with them the facts - THE TRUTH! Jesus did not learn his method of preaching from advertisers. He did not learn it from the politicians. He did not learn it from modern preachers. He was totally honest with people, even when he had to tell them how difficult following Him was to be. He told them that His followers were going to face persecution. When some sought to follow Him, Jesus sought to discourage them by telling them that the foxes had holes, but the Son of Man has no place to lay His head.

Let’s look at what Jesus shared with those who heard Him and all of us who follow Him regarding persecution.

I. The Reality of Persecution

The only doubt about persecution is the knowledge of the exact time we will experience it. The word regarding persecution is not IF you are to endure persecution, but WHEN you will face persecution.

Look at John 15. There John tells us that the world hated Him, and we can be sure that the world will hate us. Don’t be surprised at the hostility to the true Gospel of Christ. The world hates the Lord of the gospel, the gospel itself and those of us who share the gospel. The world even hates those who uphold and live the Gospel.

Philippians 1:29 tells us that we are not only to believe on Jesus but to suffer for His sake.

Colossians 1:24 reveals that Paul suffered as part of the kingdom plan.

1 Peter 4:12 states that we should not think it strange that we are going through trials, persecution and hardship in the Christian life.

What does all this mean? It means that I must identify with Jesus, including suffering for Him. In this way, I ready myself for the blessings which shall come when I meet Him.

Most of us do not know real persecution, but be assured that real persecution is going on in the world at this very moment. We think it is a blessing to be relieved of persecution, yet the disciples came back after being jailed and beaten with rejoicing on their lips and in their hearts. They were delighted that they had were counted worthy to suffer shame for His name. Is it possible that we are not persecuted because we are not really worthy of such suffering?

The Bible says that all who live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution (2 Timothy 3:12). This means that truly standing for Christ will cause you to be looked upon with disdain by the world and likely harmed by some people who despise the Lord.

Now, let’s look at an additional truth on this subject…

II. The Reviling in Persecution

Jesus said that the world will revile the people of God. Reviling speaks of abusively criticizing someone. It means to angrily condemn, stigmatize or attack a person. You can be sure that it is the devil’s great joy and strategy to abuse God’s people. He hopes in this way to silence us, or to cause some to turn their back on the Lord. Let a preacher, a deacon, a Bible teacher make a mistake and the world will put it in headlines in every newspaper on the world. A fallen servant of God is the joy of the television news reports and the internet sharing apps. The world loves to revile the believer. All Christians get the blame when one Christian falls in a public manner. The devil makes sure that the world knows when one of us acts in a defaming manner.

The word persecution comes from a word which means to pursue with the idea of catching a person in an error. Do you remember when Jesus was accused of harvesting grain on the Sabbath Day? I have a question for you? What were a bunch of Pharisees doing in a cornfield on the Sabbath Day? The world watches Christians just to catch them saying something wrong, doing something wrong and acting in a way that is less than stellar. If they cannot find anything use for an accusation, then they will make up things to say about you.

III. The Reasons for Persecution

The blessing which Jesus prophesied regarding the persecuted must come because you and I stand for righteousness in our lives. It must be because we stand for Jesus! They did not persecute Jesus because He was good, they persecuted Him because He was different. Jesus was different and they hated Him for it. The word righteousness means to be separated. If we are like the world, we will not face persecution. Be different and stand faithful for Christ and you will be persecuted. Live life Him, talk like Him, walk like Him and you will be persecuted. Live righteously and you will be cut out by the world!

Look at Matthew 7:13ff. We see that there is a narrow way and a broad way. We are to live in the narrow way, obeying the Word of God by following the Son of God. Look at Matthew 7:24ff. We must build our lives on the Rock! When we do that, the world may say and do all they wish, but they cannot move the eternal Rock – the Lord, Himself.

Let’s face it, people don’t like the name of Jesus, unless of course they are among the people who love Him and know Him personally. His name is above every name, but you can be sure that those of us who love that name will be persecuted if we take a clear stand for Jesus.

Look at John 15:18-21. People who do not know Jesus will persecute you because of His name. In fact, you can talk about morality, especially the world's measure of it, without facing the abuse of the God’s enemies. A politician can call something immoral, even if the point being made has nothing whatsoever to do with biblical morality, and the media and world will applaud it. Let a minister of the true gospel call something immoral, and he will be reviled endlessly, even though what the minister is saying is clearly straight from God’s Word. We must expect it to be this way. Jesus said it would be like that.

Do know the difference between punishment and persecution. Punishment is what good men do to us when we do wrong, but persecution is what evil men do to us when we do what is right. It is honorable for a believer to face persecution, and that is what Jesus was saying.

Now, let’s consider …

IV. The Reward after Persecution

What is our reaction to the persecution by the world? We are to have an eternal view of this matter, rather than a temporal one.

The saved are part of the kingdom of God and we ought to act like it. We are never to be ashamed of our King, nor are we to be unwilling to suffer for Him and His kingdom. We are in a kingdom and we ought to remember whose we are and act like the One to Whom we belong!

So, how are we to accept the disdain and mistreatment the world gives us for following Jesus?

A. Rejoice

The Christian is to rejoice when counted worthy of suffering for Jesus. That is exactly what our Lord said to us. The word rejoice means to jump up and down with joy. Literally, that is what the world means. Acts 5:41 tells us how the early Christians rejoiced when they were persecuted for their faithfulness to the Lord.

B. Respond

The natural man will react toward people in the same way that he is treated, but the believer must react as Jesus did and in the manner He taught us. We are to act toward our enemies with kindness and grace. In fact, we are to respond to our enemies in the same manner that God responded to us when we were His enemies. He loved us and died for us even while we were in our sins.


Let’s face it, we are suffering very little for Christ in America today. Yes, comedians make fun of us. Some scientists mock us. Professors in universities deride us. But, is that really persecution? Go back and think of what Paul faced as he carried the gospel to the world of his day. Above all else, think of what our Lord suffered for us!

Christians today think they are being persecuted if the church makes a decision they disagree with. Others think they are suffering if they sit through a rather lengthy sermon. In a church newsletter a preacher wrote, “I want to thank those who braved the rain to attend the worship services last week at the church.” Imagine something like that being written in The Book of Acts or in The Book of Hebrews. In those volumes we read of the saints who where beaten, imprisoned, skinned alive and executed.

When Paul was on his way to Jerusalem, he was warned that bonds and imprisonment awaited him. Yet, Paul stated that nothing moved him from God’s goal in his life and ministry. He was going forth for the Lord at any cost. Do we have that in our church today? Is Paul’s attitude mine and yours as we serve God in this modern age?

The prophets were persecuted. Jesus was persecuted. The apostles were persecuted. What about you and me? What are we doing for Christ that requires us to pay a cost? What inconvenience are we suffering in order to be more like Jesus and to honor Him?

Look at Romans 8:17.

Consider 2 Corinthians 4:17-18.

As it has been said many times, by many before me, a cake in process is not very appetizing. Raw eggs, flour, milk, and butter eaten separately and uncooked does not suit any of us. But when these ingredients are mixed well, placed in an oven, and then covered with delicious icing, it excites our taste buds! When we look at our lives, with all the difficulty that can come from truly and sacrificially serving God, it may not appear appetizing. Yet, when the Lord mixes it all together, and takes to the home He has prepared for us, He promises that we will be exceedingly glad.

The poet ended his poem with the words,

“How glad I shall be,
If the light of my life, O Lord,
Is burned out for thee.”

A bride wears a stone on her finger, given to her by her groom. The diamond is glowing and beautiful, but it was not always like that. It was an ugly rock when first found. Yet, once it was washed, ground, cut into facets, and placed in a gold setting, it reflects the love the groom has for her. You can I are to live for God in this world, where we are likely to suffer in some ways the hard knocks and cuts of life. The Lord promises us that once our work on earth is done, we will shine like the stars forever in His presence. So, let us renew our commitment to live for Him no matter how the world treats us.