Bless those who persecute you. Don’t curse them; pray that God will bless them. [Romans 12:14 NLT]
I’d like to think that Paul, when he wrote this to the Christians in Rome, didn’t know people like some that I know. But let’s not kid ourselves. He knew them. He was living in the first century, and writing to Christians living in Rome. Hard, hard times. And while hard times can bring out the best in some people, it is guaranteed to bring out the worst in a sizable percentage of the rest.
Have you ever really thought about the wisdom in this verse. First, as Christians we are told to be humble. This does not mean that we have to “roll over and play dead’ when we are wronged. It does mean we cannot return “tit for tat”. If we are cursed, we do not curse back. That would portray Christians as no different than non-Christians. And you never know who is watching or listening. (Besides God, of course.)
But, praying that God will bless them? Isn’t that a little over the top? Not when you really think about it. Let’s look at a worst case scenario. You know someone truly evil. Mostly you try to avoid them, because even a chance meeting could result in anger, your degradation; or possibly a physical assault. Under these circumstances, what chance do you have of being even a tiny influence on this person? On your own, your chances are likely somewhere between minute and none. Engaging God and the Holy Spirit, on the other hand, will increase your chances exponentially. And, once under conviction by the Holy Spirit, you might be the very one that person seeks out to learn more about God. Would that be incredible or what!
Might this person reject the Spirit’s work. Yes, it could go that way, But, you tried; and you will be blessed for that. And now, it is between this person and God.
So, why not sit down, grab a pencil and a sheet of paper, and write down five to ten names of family members, friends, acquaintances or enemies1 that you have reason to believe are not saved. (James 2:14-16, Matt 7:21-23) Then once a day set down with your list and lift those names up to Jesus and the Holy Spirit. Pray they will recognize their need for Christ, and take action. And, be prepared to replace names as necessary.2
Jesus, sometimes I think we get “full of ourselves” and forget that you went to the cross to pay for the sins of all mankind, …for the entire age. Please, Lord, do not let me miss opportunities to share the Good News to those who need it. Encourage me to follow the plan you have for my life. I know I cannot fail as long as you are in control of my efforts. And, I certainly live in a target rich environment. Thank you for listening and answering my prayer. I love you, Lord. Amen.
1 I am not asking you to judge other people. The Bible tells us to be discerning in our relationships. James and Matthew tell us that Christians will be recognized by the way they live their lives. You will have a pretty good idea of who you need to pray for. And if you’re wrong, no harm is done.
2 If, on your list you see names of people against whom you hold a grudge, please prioritize those names and refer to my post of 5-22-15. The name of that post is, “Grudges… a personal journey.” You will find it in the second download of, “From the Beanfield” posts. Some how it missed getting the date on it. But it is very important that you read it. Refer to Matt 6:14.