They Know Not
2 Timothy 3:12: Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.
Persecution is a troublesome fact of spiritual life. Troublesome, that is, to our flesh, but not to our inner man. Our inner man is blessed by persecution.
Matthew 5:11: Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. 12 Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.
Matthew 5:44: But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;
How should we respond to persecution? We should respond to it in several ways. We should love our persecutors, bless them, do good to them and pray for them. The most loving thing we can do for them is to share the gospel with them. Jesus set the example for us. He prayed for His persecutors shortly before He died on the cross and He died for their sins.
Luke 23:34: Then said Jesus, Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do. And they parted his raiment, and cast lots.
If you are saved I encourage you to look into your past and recall occasions when before you were saved you persecuted others. I can quickly recall two individuals that I persecuted. I am sure there were many more. There was spiritual ignorance in you when you did it. And they loved you anyway and God saved you anyway. It can be easier to forgive your persecutors when you remember that you were once a persecutor too.
There are some specific blessings that come only through persecution. It is evidence that you are saved. And there is patience and fellowship with Jesus we get through persecution.
Philippians 3:10: That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death;
James 1:3: Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience.
Acts 5:41: And they departed from the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for his name.
1 Peter 3:14: But and if ye suffer for righteousness* sake, happy are ye: and be not afraid of their terror, neither be troubled; 15 But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear: 16 Having a good conscience; that, whereas they speak evil of you, as of evildoers, they may be ashamed that falsely accuse your good conversation in Christ. 17 For it is better, if the will of God be so, that ye suffer for well doing, than for evil doing.
Romans 8:18: For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.
1 Samuel 8:7: And the LORD said unto Samuel, Hearken unto the voice of the people in all that they say unto thee: for they have not rejected thee, but they have rejected me, that I should not reign over them.
It can be comforting to remember that the ignorant persecutors are really rejecting the Saviour who lives in you more than they are rejecting you.
1 Peter 4:4: Wherein they think it strange that ye run not with them to the same excess of riot, speaking evil of you: