May 12, 2020 – Tuesday
Romans 12:14 NIV
14 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse.
This may sound extreme to you, but it is not as it conforms clearly with Jesus teaching in John 5 after He had taught the beatitudes and a number of other subjects He concluded with 43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. 46 If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? 47 And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? 48 Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.
Paul tells us to bless those who persecute and further not to curse them. This is certainly in line with Jesus telling us to love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you. Why would Jesus and Paul give us such instructions concerning our enemies? Perhaps if we read further in Romans 12 we may find the answer to our question.
Paul first continues with 15 Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. 16 Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited. 17 Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. 18 If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. All good, but still we don’t have a real answer to our question so let’s read a bit further.
There we find 17 Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. 18 If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. 19 Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord. Here Paul is quoting Deuteronomy 32:35 which says in full It is mine to avenge; I will repay. In due time their foot will slip; their day of disaster is near and their doom rushes upon them.
The direction is really to trust God when Paul wrote Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath. Paul did not leave it there. He went on to write as his conclusion in Romans 12 20 On the contrary: “If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.” 21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good (quoting Proverbs 25:21-22).
On the contrary! Without a doubt Jesus’ instructions and Paul’s are contrary to our natural instinctive reactions to those who behave as our enemies and seek to persecute or actually do persecute us. Instead as individuals we are not to repay anyone evil for evil. Instead we are to love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us, so let us pray for them. Pray they would come to know Jesus as Lord and Savior as we have come to know Him. What greater love could we show than to pray and hope they would come to know Jesus.
I believe both Jesus and Paul were talking about those we perceive as our enemies in our personal and public lives. It is so easy to hate people we know when they have done us wrong. They may be family (immediate or extended) or people from work (bosses, employees, fellow employees) or people at play (in a shared sport or activity). It doesn’t matter where or how we came into contact with them, but it does matter to Jesus and His Father how we respond when they act as our enemy often times doing their best (knowingly or unknowingly) to persecute us and making our lives miserable.
What are we to do about such people? Bless them. Pray for them. Do not curse them. Those are our instructions and we would do well to follow them. Praying that they might come to know Jesus, to have a relationship with Jesus is the most loving action we can take for them. If we have the opportunity to provide a kind act towards someone acting as an enemy we should do so as Paul concluded. We might even end up with a new friend or one less enemy. If not there are those burning coals on his head. My experience has been an enemy is no longer an enemy or at a minimum the actions dwindle and eventually cease as my reactions were contrary to what was expected.
Riley D. Driver-Pastor
Calvary Chapel of Dayton