Christian martyrs - What can I learn from them?
Of all the superheroes and celebrities that have walked the earth throughout the centuries, one might not readily point to a Christian martyr as a special individual deserving of our listening ear or heartfelt respect. They are, however, very unique people and have a lot to teach us.
Let's start with a definition. According to Webster's Seventh New Collegiate Dictionary, a martyr is one who voluntarily suffers death as the penalty of witnessing to and refusing to renounce his religion; one who sacrifices his life or something of great value for the sake of principle; a great or constant sufferer; to put to death for adhering to belief, faith, of profession; to inflict agonizing pain upon.
So the men, women, and children who have not only purposed to live a life according to the biblical mandates inspired by the Lord Jesus Christ but who have refused to stop leading such a lifestyle are true Christian martyrs. The characteristics that make them unique are rather numerous, but we'll touch on a few of the more distinct ones.
Christian martyrs are faithful. By their every action and word, they purpose to always honor Christ and to always follow in his footsteps. They give their utmost love, respect, and praise to Him alone. They put all physical, emotional, and mental energies into seeking His will for their lives and pursuing the holiest and purest reputation.
Determination is another quality that radiates from a Christian martyr's life. Stories you read in books or hear on video or experience through a live presentation from a persecuted individual reverberate with a sense of adamant focus on God alone. Prior to becoming a martyr, the persecuted typically live with a serious and headstrong desire to live the life Christ dictated and are not easily swayed from this heavenly call.
In the midst of all the pain and suffering a martyr endures, Jesus promises that those who are Christians will be especially rewarded with blessings. In Matthew chapter 5, Jesus teaches His disciples that those who "are persecuted for righteousness' sake" will be happy and that they should "be exceeding glad because their reward will be great in heaven."
A Christian martyr is filled with God's love for everyone around them. Though most legal authorities will ultimately be cause of their tortuous deaths, martyrs are usually remembered as ones who lived lives of love. The sinful eyes of the persecutors are too blind to even see the love of God in those Christians they are slaying, but truly it is love that they are seeing.
Finally, though certainly not the least or last, a Christian martyr is filled with the very thing they are put to death for: dedication. Similar but not the same as determination, most of the believers who are removed from this life are done so out of utter frustration of their adamancy to life for Christ to the last breath.
What incredible reminders to follow Christ with all we are.
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