Romans 12:14I find with a lot of commands in the bible that in my head I acknowledge that it is a good thing to do before superficially looking at myself and deciding that I am doing alright at it, then moving on. But when I spend some time mulling it over and thinking about the wider implications of God's commands I usually find that I'm not obeying him very well at all.Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse.
This is one of those commands. It's easy enough to say that I don't treat those who persecute me badly (aside from the fact that I'm not persecuted by many people at all). But how about those people who don't like me? How about those people who try to make life terrible? How about preparing for when I do face those people.
And maybe there's even a bigger question: Is the reason that I'm not persecuted much because I'm not standing firmly and unwaveringly on God's words?
The Basic Command.
The main command here is to not seek revenge on those who hurt us. When we are persecuted, especially for our faith, instead of trying to get back at those people we need to seek their good. We need to bless them, to care for them. We need to love them so much that we will want them to have true blessing: salvation in Jesus, and therefore we should share the gospel with them.
That's hard enough - when people hurt us we usually want to get back at them. At the very least we want to avoid them. We certainly don't want to help them out or bless them. And there's also the fact that if they are persecuting us for our beliefs, if we share those beliefs with them, we'll probably suffer even more.
What we need to remember is that it is God who judges. We don't have the need or the right to take revenge. God will judge justly. He will vindicate us. Trust in him!
But what about if we aren't persecuted?
There are many reasons that someone wouldn't be persecuted. It doesn't automatically mean we aren't living godly lives. It is a blessing from God to have peace with others - and it is a blessing to be persecuted, because by those sufferings God brings us closer to him.
If we aren't suffering at all for our faith though, then it might be a good idea to honestly evaluate how we're living. Am I following God's commands even if it means I don't fit in? Am I telling people about Jesus, even if they may think I'm an idiot and never talk to me? The second of those things is the one I struggle most with - sharing the gospel and trusting God instead of fearing man. But we need to do it. We are commanded to do it (Matthew 28:18-20). God is more than capable of looking after us. Trust him and tell people the good news!
But there's more...
If we should have that much love for those who hate us, how much more should we love other people. Those who don't hurt us, but are on the outside of our social circles. Those who most people don't like. Those who it will cost us socially to be around - the uncool people, the dirty, smelly people. The people we don't like.
So here are the questions to consider:
- How do I treat those who hate me? Do I reflect the love and forgiveness I have received from Christ through my actions and attitude?
- How do I go at loving those around me who are harder to love? Do I love them even though I might be persecuted for it?
- Am I being persecuted? Am I living in a way that shows I am a Christian? Am I sharing the gospel, even if it costs me in this life?
They're hard questions, but good to consider honestly and act on.