Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Matthew 5:10

This beatitude is given both as a consolation for persecution and as a direction for our priorities in life. We read in 1 Timothy 5:12, “Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted,” so every Christian will experience some persecution. As a consolation it reminds us that God watches over our lives here on earth and when we face persecution – whether it be mild rejection or harsh and brutal persecution – due to our faith in Christ, that God will reward us.

As a consolation, the reward that is promised is simply heaven itself – and the reward unembellished here with statements of crowns or future ruling statuses that we are told about in other New Testament passages. The reward is simply heavenly citizenship, and the meaning is that this reward is sufficient for us. It is enough if all we receive is the promise of citizenship in God’s kingdom. This means that this future kingdom has no low-life, no underprivileged, no second class citizens. Christ said, “Truly, I say to you, among those born of women there has arisen no one greater than John the Baptist. Yet the one who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he” (Matthew 11:11).

The rewards that are mentioned in Scripture are not the type that would set us apart as superior to others or others inferior to us. Dedication shall be rewarded, but saints shall live in a beautiful peaceful equality in terms of dignity, importance, and significance. There will be no boasting in ourselves in heaven (Eph. 2:8), only boasting in Christ and what he has achieved in our lives (Gal. 6:14). No one shall endure suffering and rejection here on earth and enter into heaven disappointed. The kingdom we inherit is the unshakable kingdom of God (Heb. 12:28).

As a directive for living, it tells us that we are to follow Christ where He leads us and not worry about the earthly rewards. I have many friends in ministry and some have received very good financial rewards for their ministry – and they have earned these rewards, for the laborer is worthy of his hire (1 Tim. 5:18). I have other friends who have served faithfully who have not received as much financial reward, but have just enough their entire lives. It would be wrong to look at either of these and say that one was successful and the other a failure, or that one did right and the other did wrong, or that one was wise and the other foolish. Though it is possible that one may have made better financial decisions that the other, the goal of service to Christ cannot be measured by earthly rewards – whether they are money, popularity, or comfort. Neither are we to strive for these things in our dedication to Christ. We are to simply follow Him and trust Him to provide for us.

This changes for those outside of ministry only slightly. Certainly anyone going into business does so to make a profit, but every Christian has a higher calling than money and profit. Every follower of Christ must set his affections on the things of heaven and not the things of this earth. Our hopes and our directions in life transcend this world and are invested in God’s kingdom. His life becomes ours. His eternal peace, joy, and love dwell within us and this is worth all the gold in the world. God pays in spiritual dividends that give purpose and meaning, as well as immeasurable inner joy and spiritual wealth to our souls.

The goal of the Christian life must always be first and foremost faithfulness to the name and calling of Christ. Our success is only measurable in those terms, not in financial ones. Of course, there is one exception to that statement – how much of our financial resources we give for the cause of Christ. The world sees how much we keep for ourselves, but heaven notices how much we give for Christ.

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