"Blessed are those who have been persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven"
When you take a stand for what is right, you are blessed. You may suffer but it means you have taken a stand on the side of right and not just expedient or selfish or practical. At this point we must have a discussion about what is right. Those in Jesus’ culture did not have any question about that. What was right lived inside of the boundaries of the Ten Commandments. All Jesus did was clarify what righteousness was as a positive. It was to meet the needs of others. It was to love. The people of Jesus’ day had tried to fashion righteousness out of not crossing the boundaries of the Ten Commandments. But that is not righteousness; that is the limit of righteousness. What is righteous is love: to meet needs, to pursue the soul, and to please. This is what we are supposed to do in this life.
We are supposed to do this with God, ourselves, and others. Now technically God has no needs we can meet, so all we can do to love Him is to pursue Him and please Him.
To be persecuted for righteousness means to suffer in some way because you are meeting real needs of people or you are unwilling to go beyond the Ten Commandments to meet other’s needs. We can be persecuted for either of these aspects of righteousness. Jesus says it is a great blessing to have suffered for either stand for righteousness. It is also important to say that what we are talking about in righteousness is Ethics 101. The two questions of ethics are who benefits? And who is harmed? God tells us that people and society will be harmed if you stay outside of the Ten Commandments. Jesus declares that society and the individual will be harmed if there is not any love. People are benefited by love and harmed by actions outside of the Ten Commandments. By the way, it doesn't matter the intent of the action if it is outside of the Ten Commandments. It is not love and it is not righteous.