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Speaking Out

Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Matthew 5:10

It's unlikely you've heard the name Esek Hopkins, first commodore of the Continental Navy (1775-78). Not the greatest of patriots and a man unsuited for leadership, but politically connected, his career was ended when ten brave sailors and marines reported "the most inhuman and barbarous" treatment of British prisoners. Promptly relieved of duty on January 2, 1778, he retaliated against two of his fellow Rhode Islanders, Richard Marven, and Samuel Shaw, filing a criminal libel suit. The two men, in turn, appealed to the Continental Congress. Congresses unanimous ruling "That it is the duty of all persons in the service of the United States, as well as all other the inhabitants thereof, to give the earliest information to Congress or other proper authority of any misconduct, fraud, or misdemeanors committed by any officers or person in the service of these states, which may come to their knowledge."

You may wonder what this interesting (hopefully) history lesson of whistleblowing has to do with today's scripture. It is this. When we strive to do the proper thing, the righteous thing, we can expect retaliation. When we live righteously, we expose evil–dragging the darkness into the light. Righteousness is a situation Satan finds intolerable, and he responds with retribution.

Jesus understood well how Satan works. He was there before the world's creation, witnessing the rebellion of Satan and his followers that led to them being ousted from heaven, and as long as Satan is free to roam the world, this situation will exist.

That day on the Mount, Jesus is bringing the crowd hope. Yes, they should expect persecution for doing the right thing, but they are to continue to do it anyway. Those that do will inherit the kingdom of heaven. A realm so different from the earthly one to which they were accustomed. This kingdom is one where meekness, humility, mercy, peace, and righteousness are valued.

Father God, we thank you for your grace and the promise of a place in your future kingdom. We ask for your help so that we may lead righteous lives. Grant us the courage to stand against evil and the strength to stand in the face of persecution. We pray these things in Jesus' name. Amen.


Pastor Tim

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