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Posts Tagged ‘persecutors’

I wouldn’t normally say I am persecuted on a regular basis: you know, things like domination, fanaticism, and intimidation. But, what if it’s as simple as someone who is “cruel in their attitude toward me” [Amplified]. In either case, I’m supposed to bless them. What does that look like?

Romans 12:14-16a
Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. Live in harmony with one another. . . .

When I teach a Bible study, I am constantly asking the participants, “What does that look like?” I ask because most people who come to these studies have a pretty good handle on the scriptures, but they have lost the specificity of how the words apply (manifest) in their daily lives. It’s one thing to read about “blessing the persecutors” and another to figure out how to do that on a regular day.

For one thing (and for the sake of transparency), I’m still contending with the implications of the word, “bless.” Usually, I can get past these verses by including the “haters” (as my kids call them) in prayer: “Bless so and so, like the woman who gave me a dirty look, or the man who yelled at me over the phone, or the boss who challenged my ability, or the teen who blatantly lied to me. Oh yeah, bless them Lord. (The hidden message: You bless them God because I sure can’t/won’t.)

But I think that’s a dodge of the truth behind the words. To bless someone goes beyond a pat on the head or a passing verbal gratuity. Blessings begin in the mind and then need to manifest into some kind of action. To bless is a verb. Just a little look at a dictionary or thesaurus is quite revealing. Everything is included from “sanctify” to “protect from evil” or “confer well being upon someone.” So, yes, there is a speaking component to blessing someone. And when we are speaking this blessing, it is a request that God confer well-being, prosperity, health, and holiness (wholeness). Every time we say “Bless” it’s a prayer.

I believe there is a second component. The command for me to bless others is not just about me “praying” a blessing over someone but to do what I can to give that person the ability to receive those blessings. If I want to bless someone truly, then I am helping that person receive what God has to offer. I am participating in the process with God. I may be called to be the hands and feet of the blessing.

To only say, “Bless them” is an empty prayer if I am not offering my own commitment to that person’s transformation or change in circumstances.

On a personal level, if someone is treating me badly, cruelly, or even betraying me and accusing me wrongly, while God is telling me to bless that person, then what? Romans 12:20 says “But if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals upon his head.” My job is to do what is best for the person, no matter how they treat me. To actively bless someone is really just another word for loving them. I do my piece of it and the rest is up to God. If that person does not receive the blessings (mine or God’s) then the “burning coals” may indeed be brought into picture. But that’s not my job. My job is to bless/love.

Help me today, Lord, to “bless” and thereby extend love to everyone I meet today, but in particular, the persecutors. Oh, that feels overwhelming to say.

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