Session #033 Lose To Win
Scripture Matthew 5:10-12
Summary With this final beatitude in Matt 5:10-12, Jesus describes what kingdom subjects can expect when they live the ways of the kingdom. Not exactly something anyone would desire but Jesus declares the blessedness of those who are persecuted for His sake. And what these can decidedly look forward to are the great rewards they will receive from the King of kings!
And seeing the multitudes, He went up on a mountain, and when He was seated His disciples came to Him. Then He opened His mouth and taught them, saying: “Blessed are the poor in spirit, For theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are those who mourn, For they shall be comforted. Blessed are the meek, For they shall inherit the earth. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, For they shall be filled. Blessed are the merciful, For they shall obtain mercy. Blessed are the pure in heart, For they shall see God. Blessed are the peacemakers, For they shall be called sons of God. Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, For theirs is the kingdom of heaven. “Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake. Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you. Matthew 5:1–12
The Summit of Mount Makarios
Climbing up or going down? Remember, the ways of the kingdom are often Upside Down.
In the last beatitude, Jesus warns, “Get ready for persecution.”. This is the peak, the high point, the summit of Mount Makarios. Paul also writes of the same warning to Timothy as well in 2 Timothy 3:12 where persecution is guaranteed for all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus.
What is Persecution
Dioko is a Greek word meaning to pursue, to chase down, to follow hard, to try to capture for oneself. Positively usage is found in the following verses,
“You shall follow what is altogether just, that you may live and inherit the land which the Lord your God is giving you.” Deuteronomy 16:20
“But He loves him who follows righteousness.” Proverbs 15:9
“let us pursue the knowledge of the LORD” Hosea 6:3
“Pursue love 1 Corinthians 14:1
… I press on …I press toward the goal…” Philippians 3:12-14
pursue peace with all people and holiness Hebews 12:14
Flee also youthful lusts; but pursue righteousness, faith, love, peace with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart 2 Timothy 2:22.
Negative usage is when dioko is used to denote persecution, a chasing down of Jesus and all who follow Him and His ways which is found when Paul, in particular, pursued the believers not just in Jerusalem but “even to foreign cities” Acts 26:11.
Forms of Persecution
Persecution can come in many forms. Verbal abuse is when words used are revile or demeaning. The insults are hurled at us because we seek to live rightly for Jesus, taunted for trusting God and having faith or when we are called names or labelled. They can be rude comments and receive cyber-bullying over social media or email threats against a person or family.
Persecution can be false accusations that come in the form of gossip, slandering, and character assassination in false reports and articles on the internet.
Physical threats are when websites or Facebook are defaced or hacked, damage to property and belongings, or Christians being singled out for imprisonment, rape, and attacks. Burning of churches, bombing incidents, death are incidents that can be seen against Christians in many countries.
Persecution is anything to make Christians Lose, in the form of family, friends, finance, freedom, faith, property, possessions, purpose, perspective, dignity, identity, rights, voice, confidence, hope and life.
The kingdom is upside down. In losing, we win. He who loses anything for Jesus’ sake will find it, Matthew 10:39.
Persecution Happens Because of … People, Pride and Personal Justification
Satan is “the accuser of the brethren” (Revelations 12:10) but he capitalizes on the sinfulness and weakness of men as his instruments and agents of persecution.
Men love to keep loving what they love. So when you tell them not to love the things of the world, they hate to hear that and they will respond by justifying themselves and tearing you down.
Men who are lovers of money like the Pharisees loved money so they derided and scoffed at Jesus when He exposed that. And they did not stop there but pursued Jesus to the cross (Luke 16:14-15).
Those who love false teaching that tells them what they want to hear are usually very antagonistic towards others who preach the truth as seen in 2 Timothy 4:3-4.
Men love the darkness such as alternative lifestyle, sex, power, fame, selfishness which John shares in 3:19
For Righteousness’ Sake (Matthew 5:10)
Standing and living for righteousness is not well-liked by people around as your righteousness will expose their unrighteousness. Your obedience will reveal their disobedience. Your humility will reveal their pride. Your generosity will reveal their selfishness. The truth will expose the lie they are living, if they are not able to justify themselves, then they must discredit or remove you.
Noah was persecuted not because he built a boat. He was ridiculed because he believed in what God said about the judgment against unrighteousness, and he was not afraid to declare it as “a preacher of righteousness” (2 Peter 2:5). It was by faith Noah, moved with godly fear, prepared an ark for the saving of his household, by which he condemned the world and became heir of the righteousness which is according to faith (Hebrews 11:7).
For Jesus’ Sake (Matthew 5:11)
As long as we bear the name of Jesus, carry His title, Christians, and be about His kingdom assignments, we are prime candidates for persecution. No one is exempted from this privilege and honour.
Disciples need to be prepared to go through what the Master goes through, and Jesus warns His disciples that persecution will come simply because of who we follow in both Matthew 10:24-25 and John 15:18–25
Jesus is the King of Righteousness. In Christ, we are the righteousness of God. We are workers of righteousness. And persecution will come because of righteousness. We have to continuously examine how righteous we are, and press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus (Philippians 3:12-16).
We are not to take persecution personally as it is really Jesus the world hates. God reminded Samuel that it was not Samuel whom Israel was rejecting, but God as their king, 1 Samuel 8:7. Jesus too had questioned Paul, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?” in Acts 9:4. We are not just suffering for Jesus, but also with Jesus, “We share in the partnership and fellowship of His suffering (koinonia)” (Philippians 3:10).
We do need to beware of self-imposed or self-imagined persecution. Jesus was not asking us to have a “woe-is-me”, “everybody-is-against-me” mentality. We are not to think that we are the only ones who are living righteously, as if everyone is out to get us, including your pastors and cell members. We will need to discern when it is a consequence of our own disobedience or sinful act. If so, repent and confess, learn from the episode and not commit the same mistake again. Accept the truth when the truth is spoken, and receive constructive feedback as it is not persecution or reproach. Truth spoken in love is a blessing not persecution, and we need to learn to embrace correction and restoration.
The Blessedness of the Persecuted Both Now and Later
For theirs Is the kingdom of heaven
The kingdom of heaven is a reality in these lives because these are truly living as kingdom subjects. Persecution proves our godliness as Paul shares in 2 Timothy 3:12.
The opposition will prove that our conduct is different from the rest of the world. Sometimes we fall into the trap of being relevant, we become so similar to the world that it is hard to tell one from the other. We become so afraid of opposition and losing people that we would tweak the ways of the kingdom to avoid offending the people too.
The grace of the King strengthens and sustains us for kingdom assignments. Great grace is poured out in times of suffering, weakness, and persecution as seen in Acts 4:33 and 2 Corinthians 12:9 where “My grace is sufficient for you for My strength is made perfect in weakness.”
The glory of the King rests on us, affirming us for the present and keeping us for the future. In both 1 Peter 4:14 and 2 Corinthians 4:16–18, they affirm that we are blessed as we are reproached for the name of Christ, and that’s the Spirit of glory and of God rest on us.
Rejoice and be exceedingly glad: literally to jump for joy, to dance with joy. Rejoice in that day (of persecution and opposition) and leap for joy. For indeed your reward is great in heaven, For in like manner their fathers did to the prophets (Luke 6:23).
The joy of participation will be on you when you are on the right track, living rightly and faithfully for the Lord when you are fulfilling your kingdom assignment, and whenever the kingdom of God advances, you can expect opposition. After being beaten, Peter and the apostles went out, “rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for His name” (Acts 6:41).
The joy of perfection as the purpose of these trials which God allows is to train and refine us as seen in 1 Peter 1:6–8. We may appear to be losing, but we are being perfected, lacking nothing. James encourages us that the testing of our faith produces patience, and we will be perfected and complete, lacking nothing (James 1:2-4).
The joy of expectation, for our prime example, is our King and Lord, Jesus Christ, “who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right of the throne of God.” (Hebrews 12:2). Peter writes that as we partake of Christ’s sufferings, that when His glory is revealed, you may also be glad with exceeding joy (1 Peter 4:12).
For great is your reward in heaven
There are rewards. God promises all who diligently seek Him will be rewarded in Hebrews 11:6. When we do good to please God, not making a show of your deeds, prayers and fasting, God will reward you (Matthew 6:1-18). As we receive and help another for the sake of Christ, you will be rewarded (Matthew 10:41-42). Paul shares that we are to build one another in the foundation of Christ and we will receive a reward (1 Corinthians 3:5-17). So let us preach the gospel willingly and without charge for great is the reward (1 Corinthians 9:17-18). At the end, Jesus will come and reward each according to “his works” (Matthew 16:27, Revelations 22:12).
And there are Great rewards as we bear the reproach of Christ (Hebrews 11:26). Hold fast to our confidence in Christ in the face of persecution and loss, for it has great reward (Hebrews 10:35). For those who were beheaded will be part of the first resurrection, living and reigning with Christ for a thousand years (Revelations 20:4).
Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you (Matthew 5:12).
If you are persecuted because of Jesus and His righteousness, you are counted amongst the great prophets of old. The prophetic role is to edify, to exhort, to comfort towards righteousness as the kingdom of God is always about righteousness. The church needs to be built upon God’s righteousness. This is the reason why kingdom people who live and declare righteousness will be opposed by unrighteousness.
From the Old Testament to the New Testament, through Church history, to today, persecution continues to be a very real and present threat to all who declare faith in Jesus Christ and His kingdom. The battle rages on and it would do us well to be prepared for any eventuality. What gave these the boldness and courage to look death in the eyes and not buckle? The reality and certainty of the risen Christ. He lives and so we will live too. We do not have to look for trouble or persecution. If we are doing our jobs right, living for Jesus, trouble and persecution will look for us. We may not suffer like our brothers and sisters in Christ in other countries but we may face opposition or be ridiculed as we live for Jesus – from our spouses, families, friends, society etc. Jesus declared that He did not come to bring peace, but a sword that divides.
Am I willing to Lose all that I might Win all? To count everything as loss that I may gain and know Christ, for He alone is my exceedingly great reward. Will I be like Paul who continued to “press on (dioko)”, to “press” toward the goal for the prize (reward) of the upward call (Mount Makarios?) of God in Christ Jesus? How will I measure up when I stand before the judgment seat of Christ?
May we have the right perspective that we may lay hold of all the kingdom of God truly is. As Paul declared to the disciples in Lystra, Iconium and Antioch, “We must through many tribulations enter the kingdom of God (Acts 14:19–23).