This week I have had the opportunity to practice what I consider one of the most difficult passages in the Bible. It is found in Matthew 5: 43-48 (NIV). Jesus tells us how to treat those who curse us –something impossible to do in the natural.
“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 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. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”
When I read this passage, I think of the story of Corrrie ten Boom who after one of her lectures on grace, shook hands with a former prison guard from the Nazi concentration camps where her family was killed. What grace it took to shake the hand of the one who was her enemy and cursed her family. My encounter this week was nothing on this scale, but words of cursing, rejection and incredible arrogance were spoken. And Jesus expects me to follow that same directive–bless those who curse.
So what does that look like? How do I pray for someone who curses? The context of the passage seems to say, pray good things for that person who did wrong. I am to leave my vengeance for God and approach this unloving person with the same love God approaches me.
Are any of you challenged by this? I certainly am.
So I cry out to God and say, “You know what happened. Your love can conqueror my unloving heart. I am to reflect you in all I do. Help me to give it completely to you and love.
It is easy to love those who are like us, who are on our side and treat us with respect. The challenge is to love our enemies, those who curse us, persecute us and spitefully use us.
Jesus tells us to bring those who curse us to the Father in prayer. Because we are the righteousness of God, we don’t allow those who treat us poorly to determine how we treat them. Instead, as we receive His love, we love others. It is only through God’s grace that my heart can be transformed.
To bless a person doesn’t mean I have to like what he did. But I do have to love him, pray the blessings of God in his life. To bless means I pray for complete restoration and all that God has for this person.
So Lord, hear my prayer. I desire to be more like you. Help me bless those who curse me. Help me show your character in this situation, to be more concerned about being your child and emulating my Father, than being right or getting back at someone. I can pray for that person as Jesus did, “Father, forgive them for they do not know what they are doing” (Luke 23:24). I can choose to love, not by my own power, but by yours.