“The lives of the Royal family are governed by a rigid set of rules from which there can be no deviation. Nothing is left to chance in these matters, for there is at Buckingham Palace a private handbook in which is set down the complete ‘do’s’ and ‘don’ts’ of the Royal household.”
When reading this quote, I was struck how the same thing is true for God’s royal priesthood/His own special people. Jesus states that in heaven’s holy handbook there is a specific behavior expected when God’s royal family is persecuted: “Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you” (Matthew 5:12). These are not suggestions; they are imperatives!
Note the four, underlying reasons for this royal mandate:
- God does not believe fake news. If you are truly righteous, any accusation of wrongdoing is false. A persecutor’s attack with abusive language or censorious charge of an extreme fault or attempt to degrade you via slander is untrue. Just because a persecutor says you are unrighteous does not make it so; therefore, “even if you should suffer for righteousness’ sake, you are blessed. ‘And do not be afraid of their threats, nor be troubled.’ But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear; having a good conscience, that when they defame you as evildoers, those who revile your good conduct in Christ may be ashamed. For it is better, if it is the will of God, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil” (1 Peter 3:14-17).
- Look at what this proves. The real reason for your mistreatment is Christ. Apparently, you are enough like your Lord that the spiritual hosts of wickedness and their human allies are threatened. Isn’t this joyous news? “If you are reproached for the name of Christ, blessed are you, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you. On their part He is blasphemed, but on your part He is glorified” (1 Peter 4:14).
- The prize remains unchanged. Persecution does not eliminate your inheritance; therefore, keep your eyes on the prize. The reward of the righteous is great. Persecution does not blind God’s eyes or deafen His ears. His eyes are still on the righteous and His ears remain open to their prayers. “But the face of the Lord is against those who do evil” (1 Peter 3:12) and He will “repay with tribulation those who trouble you and to give you who are troubled rest with us when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with His mighty angels” (2 Thessalonians 1:6-7).
- The stream of history flows unbroken. All who desire to live godly lives on this planet face opposition and persecution (2 Timothy 3:12). Therefore, “beloved, do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you” (1 Peter 4:12).
Persecution is clear cut evidence that you are going in the opposite direction of the unrighteous. It is a distinct indicator that you are a citizen of the kingdom of heaven.
You are part of the royal family. So, when you are persecuted, you are not expected to keep a stiff upper lip; you are to rejoice and be exceedingly glad. Look it up for yourself, it’s in the handbook!