March 15

Bless Those Who Persecute You

Introduction

In the middle of our week on the marks of a true Christian, today we’re looking at Paul’s command to bless those who persecute you. Truly blessing those around us that seem to be against us is an incredible act of love, producing fruit not only in the lives of others, but in our lives as well. May God give us insight into his heart for this command today, as well as the courage to live it out.

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Scripture

“Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them.” Romans 12:14

Worship

Mercy | Amanda Cook

Mercy (Official Lyric Video) – Amanda Cook | Brave New World

Watch the official lyric video for “Mercy” from the album, “Brave New World” by Amanda Cook. Get the album via iTunes: http://www.bit.ly/BNWalbum Or on our website: http://www.bethelmusic.com/store/brave-new-world

Devotional

Think back on an unresolved conflict you’ve had. Maybe a friend, spouse, family member, or coworker wronged you. Reflect on the anger, frustration, and sense of injustice you felt. Maybe you still feel those feelings today when you remember that situation. Conflict without grace and forgiveness is like a small hole in the fabric of our emotions that seems to tear larger and larger with every passing day. The more we play the scenario over in our heads, the worse it seems to get. The feelings of unforgiveness and the need for fairness carry with them an increasingly heavy burden. And the Bible teaches us that unforgiveness and seeking fairness are weights we were never intended to bear.

Jesus completely turned our system of fairness on its head. In Luke 6:27-31, he said, “But I say to you who hear, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you. To one who strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also, and from one who takes away your cloak do not withhold your tunic either. Give to everyone who begs from you, and from one who takes away your goods do not demand them back. And as you wish that others would do to you, do so to them.” The way of God is grace-filled, unconditional love, not fighting for what you feel owed. Jesus himself “did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross” (Philippians 2:5-8). Jesus chose to never reciprocate the persecution and cursing he faced. Instead, he lived his life in the pursuit of blessing everyone with grace and mercy so that they might know the depth of God’s love. And he calls you and me to do the same.

Matthew 5:43-45 says, “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.” We are called to live our lives out of the understanding that we are sons and daughters of God. And Jesus says that loving our enemies and praying for those who persecute us demonstrates our position as God’s children. You have been delivered from the world’s system of fairness. You no longer have to fight to get what is owed to you. Instead, you can choose to cast off that weight and bless and serve those around you.

“Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them” (Romans 12:14). God will fight for your justice. He will be your protector and defender. Leave those heavy needs at the foot of the cross, and come follow the way of your Savior. The only path to experiencing the fullness of abundant life is choosing to bless your enemies instead of fighting with them. God’s path to peace and joy is founded on the concept of grace. When you choose to bless others, even if they don’t deserve it, you are choosing to live your life in light of eternity. You have been forgiven and offered grace not because you deserved it, but by the mercy and love of your heavenly Father. Follow the example and teaching of Jesus today, live your life in obedience to his word, and experience the fruit of choosing to bless everyone around you regardless of how they treat you.

Prayer

1. Meditate on Jesus’ teaching on forgiveness and grace.

“But I say to you who hear, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you. To one who strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also, and from one who takes away your cloak do not withhold your tunic either. Give to everyone who begs from you, and from one who takes away your goods do not demand them back. And as you wish that others would do to you, do so to them.” Luke 6:27-31

2. Now ask the Spirit to fill you with the desire to be like Jesus and obey his word. Trust that God’s commands are meant to lead you to the absolute best life you could live.

“Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.” Philippians 2:5-8

3. Spend time in God’s presence, allowing the love and grace he offers you to mold and shape you into the likeness of Jesus. The more time you spend with God, the more you will become like him. Rest in his nearness.

Go

Blessing those who have hurt you is one of the hardest things to do as a believer. It requires the perspective and fortitude to choose God’s ways over what feels most gratifying at the time. But you have the power to choose the abundant life God makes available to you in every moment. The Holy Spirit will help you forgive and offer grace to others if you will allow him to. Choose to bless those who persecute you today, and watch as the love and honor you show others brings heaven to earth around you.

Extended Reading: Matthew 5