– Tim Tebow
Every time the apostles were beaten, imprisoned, and mistreated, instead of complaining to the authorities or to God, they rejoiced. What a powerful witness that must have been to those around them. On one occasion the apostles “left the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer dishonor for the name” (Acts 5:41). They didn’t get angry and go up to the Roman authorities and complain that they were mistreated or had their rights violated. Rather, they rejoiced because of for Whom it was they were being mistreated.
The apostles deemed it an honor for being mistreated by the Jewish court, mainly because they suffered dishonor for Jesus’ sake. The Apostle Peter knew a lot about persecution; but he understood that “if you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you” (1 Peter 4:14).
Every one of us is going to suffer for our faith. If not, we’re either not a Christian or we’ve been a silent, underground, private detective Christian (which seems incompatible with the Christian faith). If we’ve never suffered for our faith, then maybe we’ve never shared our faith. The Apostle Peter wrote, “If anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in that name” (1 Peter 4:16). Try that the next time you’re humiliated for your faith. It’s easy to say but so very hard to do.
Jesus left no doubt about persecution: “A servant is not greater than his master. If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you. If they kept my word, they will also keep yours” (John 15:20). “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account” (Matthew 5:10-11). We should “rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you” (Matthew 5:12).
We should never go out and seek persecution because our motive is not right. If we are living out our faith in public and not denying Christ before others, we will receive persecution. We don’t have to seek it out–it will find us. And that’s good because we can rejoice, being found worthy to suffer for His name’s sake and to share in the same sufferings that He endured. Great is your reward in heaven because they did the same thing to the prophets before us.