“Blessed Are You When People Revile You”
O God, please give us grace and wisdom to remember a few important things.
First, help us to remember that when people talk behind our backs or criticize us to our faces because we are Christians, it usually does not, at least in American or Western culture, rise to the level of being reviled or persecuted.
Second, help us to remember that sometimes when we are criticized the criticism is justified, even if we are being criticized for allegedly Christian attitudes or behaviors; it is possible, after all, to be “religious” in the worst sense of the word. Jesus said we are blessed when people revile us and persecute us and utter all kinds of evil against us falsely, not truthfully.
Third, help us to remember that Jesus said we are blessed when people revile us and persecute us and utter all kinds of evil against us falsely on his account. In other words, we are blessed when we are persecuted or lied about because we think and talk and act in ways that are like the ways that Jesus thought and talked and acted. Help us to take very seriously this question: what are the chances that we would be reviled or persecuted because our thoughts, words, and actions have been too gracious, too forgiving, too merciful, too truthful, and too loving?
Fourth, help us to remember that a martyr complex is unbecoming even as you help us to remember that martyrdom does come to people who don’t seek it but who, when it comes, accept it.
Finally, help us to be as in tune with you as your prophets were so that, whether we suffer here or rejoice there, we will always know the joy of your presence.
“Blessed are you when people revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you” (Matthew 5:11-12).