January 8 I Tuesday
“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God. Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” —Matthew 5:9-10
The last two beatitudes are about the impacts of Christian experience, the first of which is being a peacemaker. The world is undoubtedly filled with strife, but this is not the kind of peace Jesus is primarily concerned with. James writes, “What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you?” (James 4:1). The external conflicts of the world are symptoms of what is going on within us, and to be a true peacemaker, we must move beyond the symptoms to the source. The greatest need of every human being is to have peace with God, which leads to experiencing the peace of God in our hearts. It is a great privilege to share the means of peace with those whose deepest need it is to know Christ, and we become “sons of God” (Matthew 5:9 NKJV) as we share in this ministry of the Son of God.
When we share this message of peace with others, they usually respond in one of two ways. There are those who respond and enter into peace with God for themselves, but there are those who react by persecuting.
Being a witness to the Lord Jesus will lead to persecution. Paul promised Timothy, “Everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted” (2 Timothy 3:12). This may come in various forms: gossip, insults, violence, imprisonment or worse. But Jesus says our response is to be, “Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you” (Matthew 5:12). When we are persecuted for the sake of Christ, we stand in an unbroken line from Abel, who stood his ground and paid the price, to our own day, all of whom will receive great reward in heaven.
But what if no one is persecuting us? Do not go looking for it, but if no one is ever troubled by us, it may be because we are not peacemakers. If we are not sharing the peace of God with others, it might be because we are not pure in heart, single-minded in our pursuit of Christ, which may stem from not being merciful towards others. We may not be merciful because we are not hungering and thirsting after righteousness, which may be because we are not meekly surrendering to Christ or mourning our poverty of spirit. The beatitudes build on each other, and if we are to experience true happiness, the chain cannot be missing a link! Recognizing our poverty of spirit leads to God’s presence being evidenced within us, which results in Him impacting the world through us.
Prayer: Lord God, thank You for the opportunities I have to help others know peace with You and that You enable me to stand firm when I encounter persecution on Your behalf.