Responding to Persecutions (1 of 2)

Q. These days we often hear that the end times are fast approaching and that Christians will be persecuted. What should we do when this happens?

A. Let me answer this in sections:

When?
Actually, persecutions exist throughout church history, not just in the end times:
Mk 10:30 but that he will receive a hundred times as much now in the present age, houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and farms, along with persecutions; and in the age to come, eternal life.
It’s only when it happens to Christians elsewhere and not in N. America, we don’t pay as much attention.

Who and Why?
The persecutors include “people” (Mt 5:11) and government authorities (Lk 21:12). The former took place, for example, when Communists, Socialists and dictators mandated citizens to report on their friends’ and neighbors’ suspected “subversive” activities. Even family members will turn against each other:
Mt 10:21 Brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child; and children will rise up against parents and cause them to be put to death.

The reasons for persecution are many, but primarily because of Christ (Jn 15:20; 2 Co 12:10). Christians are persecuted for His name’s sake (Lk 21:12), for the cross of Christ (Ga 6:12), for righteousness’ sake (Mt 5:10), and for desiring to live godly in Christ Jesus:

Mt 5:10-12 “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.
• Lk 21:12 “But before all these things, they will lay their hands on you and will persecute you, delivering you to the synagogues and prisons, bringing you before kings and governors for My name’s sake.
• Jn 15:20 Remember the word that I said to you, ‘A slave is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you; if they kept My word, they will keep yours also.
• 2 Co 12:10 Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ’s sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong.
• Ga 6:12 Those who desire to make a good showing in the flesh try to compel you to be circumcised, simply so that they will not be persecuted for the cross of Christ.
• 2 Tim 3:12 Indeed, all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.

What?
What form will the persecutions take? There are many forms, including:
• Verbal: insults (Mt 5:11; 2 Co 12:10), false accusations (Mt 5:11);
• Loss of freedom: imprisonment (Lk 21:12);
• Beatings: struck down (2 Co 4:9);
• Starvation: famine (Rom 8:35);
• Humiliation, cold: nakedness (Rom 8:35);
• Death: sword (Rom 8:35).

2 Co 4:9 persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed;
• Rom 8:35 Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?

(To be continued)

Dealing with Insults

insult 1

Q. People around us are continually criticizing us, with words which are insulting. I don’t know whether it has to do with racial discrimination or not, but it is very difficult to bear. What should we do?

A. First, distinguish who you are dealing with. Are they scoffers or mockers? To scoff or scorn is to show contempt by insulting words or action. It combines bitterness with ridicule. The inner emotion is a sense of superiority, which outward expression is to scorn or mock. If you are dealing with a scoffer, do not descend to their level. Ignore them. Don’t give them fuel:
Prov 9:7-8 He who corrects a scoffer gets dishonor for himself, and he who reproves a wicked man gets insults for himself. Do not reprove a scoffer, or he will hate you, reprove a wise man and he will love you.

Second, listen to what your critics are saying. Although you do not like to hear them, is there any truth in what they are criticizing you? If there is, correct those things. They are doing you a favor by pointing them out to you, although with hurtful words.

Third, discern why are they so critical? It could be racial discrimination as you surmised, which is never justified. Or they may be jealous, so they try to put you down to prop themselves up. In these cases the problem is with them, not you, so don’t worry. Or it could be because of your stand for the Lord, in which case you should rejoice and be glad, because you are considered worthy to suffer shame for Him, and your reward in heaven is great.

Mt 5:11-12 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.
• Lk 6:22-23 Blessed are you when men hate you, and ostracize you, and insult you, and scorn your name as evil, for the sake of the Son of Man. Be glad in that day and leap for joy, for behold, your reward is great in heaven. For in the same way their fathers used to treat the prophets.
• Acts 5:41 So they went on their way from the presence of the Council, rejoicing that they had been considered worthy to suffer shame for His name.

Fourth, consider the how. Positively, learn to:
• cast all your anxiety on Him,
• be content, and
• give a blessing instead, because
o He cares for you,
o when you are weak and rely on the Lord, then you are strong because He is strong,
o we will inherit a blessing.
Negatively, never take your own revenge. Never return insult for insult. The world’s way is to retaliate, give them their due, but that’s not the way for Christians. Leave it in God’s hands. He will repay the scoffers.

Rom 12:19 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.
• 2 Co 12:10 Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ’s sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong.
• 1 Pet 1:7 casting all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you.
• 1 Pet 3:9 not returning evil for evil or insult for insult, but giving a blessing instead; for you were called for the very purpose that you might inherit a blessing.

Hope this helps.