Blessings and Insults

Matthew 5:44 NIV

"But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,."

It's very easy to love some people. With others, it's quite difficult to even like them, much less love them! Besides, one of the favorite attitudes of the world is, "don't get mad, get even!" Revenge is the theme of the day in virtually all the popular action thrillers. Revenge is central to most Middle-Eastern philosophies. Revenge is what destroys many relationships and rips families apart. And revenge is what began the path that led many inmates to prison.

Besides all of the other wonderful things that He is, our Lord is also most wise. He knows that "getting even" can lead to an unending cycle of getting even. They hurt you, so you hurt them, then they hurt you worse, then you hurt them worse, and on and on it goes, escalating with every cycle. Remember the Hatfields and the McCoys? That all-too-famous feud between two families is a perfect picture of the upward cycle of revenge. When faced with this kind of situation (and it can occur almost daily), our Lord says to return a blessing for an insult. If they do something mean to you, then you should do something good for them. Do good to those who hurt you, pray for those who persecute you.

Proverbs 25:21-22 (NIV) says, "If your enemy is hungry, give him food to eat; if he is thirsty, give him water to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head, and the LORD will reward you." This does not mean that your motivation for doing good should be to cause your enemy pain and to coerce the Lord into blessing you! And it does not mean you should watch for spectacular special effects next time you do something nice for a person who is a real stinker! Instead, by blessing them, you shame them (if you are genuine in your blessing for them), and God will bless you for being obedient. It also does not mean to rub your enemy's nose in the blessing! "You were really mean to do that to me, but see how nice and Christian I am for doing something nice for you in return?" Wrong! If we genuinely are following Jesus' lead, then we must have the same attitude Jesus had on the cross when He prayed for the people who had tortured and crucified Him. "Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing." (Luke 23:34 NIV) We must follow His lead, and demonstrate to others what real love is.

What is real love? We said it yesterday, but it doesn't hurt to repeat a profound truth. Because real love is much different from what the world tells you. Real love is not an emotion. Instead, it is a conscious commitment of our will to do whatever is in the best interest of the other person - no matter how we feel about it, or how it will affect us. Remember, "love" is not just a noun; it is also a verb. A verb indicates action. Take action today, and put your faith to work loving your enemies.

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