Sounds like a “natural” way to respond to persecution doesn't it? No, not really. Blessing those that persecute us is not the first thing that comes to mind when we face persecution. Our natural response to persecution is retaliation. We want to see our persecutors suffer for the pain inflicted on us. But, Paul says that is not the answer. We are to bless and not curse them.
Paul asks us to go against our nature, that nature being our sinful nature. Some would say you mean it's our human nature. I suppose so, because as humans we tend to respond in sinful ways to such things as persecution. Paul calls us to respond differently, he calls us to respond in a Christ like manner. We are to bless those that persecute us.
We as Christians are to respond to persecution like Jesus did. “And Jesus said, "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do." And they cast lots to divide his garments.” Luke 23:34 ESV Jesus as He was being crucified asked His Father to forgive those that were persecuting Him. Even when faced with great humiliation, pain and death, Jesus chose to bless rather than curse. That is what we are called to do. Right now you are probably thinking, well that was Jesus of course that's how He would react. Humans react differently. Really?
Let's look at Stephen. And falling to his knees he cried out with a loud voice, "Lord, do not hold this sin against them." And when he had said this, he fell asleep. Acts 7:16 Stephan, a man cried out to God to forgive those that were persecuting him. If Stephan when he was being stoned to death for preaching the gospel could forgive, shouldn't we be able to bless our persecutors?
Paul said to bless our persecutors. What greater blessing can we give someone than what Jesus has given us, forgiveness.
So today, let's pray for our persecutors and ask for their forgiveness.
© 2012 Leo J. Woodman