Monday, March 28, 2005

Bless those who curse you!

The concluding words of Peter's sermon at the Gate Beautiful help us understand what God considers blessing for those running afoul of the Judge: "When God raised up his servant, he sent him first to you to bless you by turning each of you from your wicked ways." (Acts 3:26).

Christ’s command: "bless those who curse you" (Luke 6:28) is truly not onerous. In such a case "May God bless you" is a prayer -- a prayer God commands -- for the persecutor to "see the Light" and turn away from his or her evil ways. Anyone "cursing" you -- perhaps by hurling false accusations -- hates you [at least at that moment and in that instance] and is not interested in receiving anything good at your hand, nor in believing that anything good could come from you. Often such hatred directed towards a Christian comes from one who supposes he or she "is doing God” – or at least the truth – “a favor!" In a person with any conscience, there may be an internal struggle over refusing -- or considering contemptible -- the message "God bless you"! It "makes people think" and nothing, in such a case, is more helpful that they might see the Light. I've seen good results, so I commend our Master's command to all: "bless those who curse you"! In obeying the command, you serve as God’s messenger! Anyone who chooses to refuse God's blessing from you, which God commanded you to give them, whether they realize it or not, displays an "in your face" attitude towards the rightful Ruler and Judge! God is freer to deal “fairly” with a rebel who has the temerity to be contemptuous to His face, as it were (Matthew 25:40).

As for myself, longing to be loved, it is natural for me to truly desire that one cursing me should come to "see the Light" and repent. I find it easier yet to imagine that repentance is the outcome our Father desires, and all heaven with Him. To "bless those who curse you" is actually, rightly understood, a "light yoke" and even a pleasant duty. In my experience "it makes people think" in a constructive way. And if they refuse to respond constructively, then the "heavy burden" they intend to lay upon you in cursing you – is laid upon them! Haters are perplexed if not vexed by the unexpected response. They "give up" overt attacks, concluding, I suppose, that the one "blessing" them is too perverse to influence in the manner intended by their "curses"! In such a case the Way gives his servant relief, even if cessation of attack is not as gratifying as an enemy's repentance. After a little while, if unable to get it out of their minds, they may repent.

So, it is wise and right and fair and constructive to "bless those who curse you"! Thereby one sees the Holy One "guards the course of the just and protects the way of his faithful ones" (Proverbs 2:8). Carefully keeping this command brings about fulfillment of the promise: "I will be an enemy to your enemies and will oppose those who oppose you." (Exodus 23:22). This "light yoke" perfectly illustrates the principle: "God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble" (James 4:6, 1 Peter 5:5).

If somehow you misapply this command, blessing a person you think “curses” you but actually rebukes you in the name of YHVH, little harm done. If the one who seems to curse you is really working for God, the blessing is hardly wasted!

This command is also helpful, for us here far below, to be mindful that blessing is the end our heavenly Father really wants for everyone, no matter how far from the right way they may have strayed!

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