1 Corinthians 4 Lesson

Persecution!

PERSECUTION

Have you ever been persecuted because of your faith? If you answered “no” to this question, do you think that you are likely to be persecuted because of your faith at some point in the future?

If you answered no to both questions, consider the following scripture:

  • “Indeed, all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.” – 2 Timothy 3:12.

We understand from this scripture that all Christians will be persecuted.

According to Merriam-Webster's Dictionary, the definition of the word persecution is:

  • “To harass or punish in a manner designed to injure, grieve, or afflict.”
  • “To cause to suffer because of belief.”

Sadly, there are people in this world that wish to harm others strictly because of their faith in Jesus. This is nothing new. It has been happening for over 2,000 years!

How we react when we are persecuted can have a powerful impact on others and can also be a great opportunity to glorify God.

When we are persecuted, we want to have the conviction of The Apostle Paul who said:

  • “What are you doing, weeping and breaking my heart? For I am ready not only to be bound, but even to die at Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus.” -Acts 21:13.

And we want to balance the conviction of Paul with the gentleness of Jesus who said:

  • “You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I say to you, do not resist an evil person; but whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also.” –Mathew 5:38-39

LOVING OUR ENEMIES

It is human nature to struggle with the concept of loving our enemies. But not if we stop looking at things from an earthly perspective and begin to look at them in a new way. Paul wrote in his letter to the Romans:

  • “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.”Romans 12:2.

Jesus said:

  • “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven.” –Mathew 5:44.

LEAVE THE VENGEANCE TO GOD

According to Virtual Bible Study’s lesson on vengeance:

“Jesus kept on teaching all the way to the cross.   In the most difficult of circumstances, Jesus shows us His humility and how to ‘turn the other cheek.’  It is not our place to retaliate.   If there is vengeance to be served, God will serve it, not us.   Consider the following two scriptures about vengeance:

  1. ‘Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath of God, for it is written: ‘Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,’ says the Lord.” –Romans 12:19,
  2. ‘You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I say to you, do not resist an evil person; but whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also.    If anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, let him have your coat also.’ – Mathew 5:38-40.

Jesus is God’s Son.   He is deity.   He could have called 10,000 angels to set Him free.     And yet when they chanted, ‘Crucify Him!’ He did not defend Himself.   When they slapped Him, He did not fight back.  

None of us will ever be put in the situation that Jesus was.   All of us, however, will be tested.   From time to time, we will find ourselves in situations where people are treating us poorly, and we may get the urge to retaliate in some way.   The Bible teaches us not to do that.   Jesus tells us that instead of retaliating when we are wronged, we are to ‘turn the other cheek.’  Consider the following scripture:

  • ‘Vengeance is Mine, and retribution, in due time their foot will slip; for the day of their calamity is near, and the impending things are hastening upon them.’ –Deuteronomy 32:35.

Once again, vengeance does not belong to us; it belongs to God.”

PERSEVERANCE

With adversity comes opportunities to persevere and to glorify God. Whatever we are going through, we are never alone because God is always there with us. At times, our problems may seem overwhelming. It is in these times that we need to remember the following two scriptures:

  1. “No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it.” -1 Corinthians 10:13,
  2. “These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world.” –John 16:33.

HOPE IN JESUS

When persecution comes, we cannot put our hopes in the things of this world. That is a recipe for disaster! No, when we are at our weakest, that is when we need to remember the hope that we have in Jesus!

Jesus said during His Sermon On The Mount:

  • “Blessed are those who have been persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me.  Rejoice and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great; for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.” -Mathew 5:10-12.

What a comforting scripture that is to reflect on!

CONCLUSION

Christians will all be persecuted because of their faith. Everyone’s situation is different, but all of us will experience it.

When that happens, we are not to take vengeance or retaliate in any way. Instead, we are to follow the example of Jesus who taught us to turn the other cheek and to bless those who persecute us. If there is any vengeance to be taken, God will take it, not us.

With each act of persecution, comes an opportunity for us to persevere. God will never give us more than we can handle and will always provide a way to escape. We just need to keep believing and turning to Him.

And when it is all said and done, if we keep the faith, we will end up spending eternity in heaven.  The glory of heaven will far exceed any struggles we had during our relatively short time on earth.   

We will end today’s lesson with the following words written by the Apostle Paul to Timothy. They are beautiful words that we can hope to say ourselves when our time on earth is ending:

  • “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith;in the future there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day; and not only to me, but also to all who have loved His appearing.” - 2 Timothy 4:7-8.

Comments

Carl

People might encounter a Christian and become disgruntled because of the ceiling that living in the flesh results in. I find people resent the Word of God because it shakes their value system. It makes them look at what their behaviours, attitudes, and lifestyles are designed to prevent -facing your own negative emotions or realities about life. When we're persecuted, people are projecting, almost like a town throwing tomatoes at someone for having an undesirable trait for that community. Almost like "how dare you disrupt my false consciousness"..

Reply
Carl

God helped me through persecution by giving me fortitude and just the comfort of the Spirit

Reply
Drexel

Carl, I’m in total agreement with you. I’ve come to realize that Christianity is not for everyone, because it requires you to take a stand. However, this stand is best shown in the way we live, in the way we speak and in the way we treat others.
We don’t go with the flow, nor make decisions base on popular opinion; in other words we’re not worried about what others think of us as found in Proverbs 29: 25;
“Fear of man will prove to be a snare, but whoever trusts in the LORD is kept safe.” NIV.

Therefore, our decision is base on what’s right, and our standard of right and wrong comes from The Word of God. One of the most difficult weaknesses to break away from is worrying about other people’s opinion of us. I almost lost my life because of this weakness when I was 19, and it is a lesson I will never forget. It takes strength to take a stand for what is right. It takes great inner strength to handle persecution and to do so in a way that is Christ like.
While persecution can sometimes prove to be deadly, however, the majority of persecution is more mental than physical. The Navy Seal have a saying;
“Its mind over matter, if you don’t mind then it doesn’t matter.”

My Brother, where The Lord has brought me from nothing about this world matters any more. I don’t care what you say about me, I don’t care what you say to me: and I don’t even care what you do to me because for Christ sake it doesn’t matter.

Reply
Michael
Drexel

Appreciate your comments Drexel. Amen.

Reply