The final beatitude deals with persecution. Jesus said, “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (vs. 10). Jesus’ statement makes it clear some will be persecuted for their faith. This truth undermines any “gospel” that denies personal difficulty or hardship. Jesus made it abundantly clear some beliebers would experience verbal and even physical abuse because of their righteousness (which is based on Christ’s righteousness). Christians who are committed to Christ should not be surprised when they face persecution or opposition.
One word of caution is in order. Christians should make sure they are persecuted “for righteousness’ sake.” D. A. Carson quipped:
This final beatitude does not say, “Blessed are those who are persecuted because they are objectionable, or because they rave like wild-eyes fanatics, or because they pursue some religio-political cause.” The blessing is restricted to those who suffer persecution because of righteousness (cf. 1 Peter 3:13f.; 4:12-16). The believers described in this passage are those determined to live as Jesus lived (Carson, The Sermon on the Mount, 27).
So, if you are facing persecution or difficulty, make sure it is for “righteousness’ sake” and not because you are being a jerk or are taking a hard stand on a non-biblical issue.
The reward is the kingdom of heaven. Carson asked,
“If the disciple of Jesus never experienced any persecution at all, it may fairly be asked where righteousness is being displayed in his life. If there is no righteousness, no conformity to God’s will, how shall he enter the kingdom?”
So, are you being persecuted? If not, is it because you are not displaying righteousness? Every Christian should strive, not for persecution, but righteousness. If persecution comes, so be it. Let’s practice righteousness and enter the kingdom.