Bless Do Not Curse
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 Ro 12:14 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse.

The Holy Spirit speaking through Paul, continues to let us know how shall we then live. As the redeemed, the purchased by God, what are some of the things that should mark our behavior? In this verse, we see that blessing and not cursing should mark our behavior.

Now, we aren’t talking about blue language here, we aren’t talking about cussing, although, as Christians we ought to be watching our tongues. Coarse language may be fitting for the sons of this world, but not fitting for the sons of God.

What we are talking about here is the way we speak about our persecutors, those who are against us. Jesus has made it clear in Scripture that you are either with Him or against Him, there is no middle ground.   Mt 12:30 "He who is not with Me is against Me, and he who does not gather with Me scatters abroad. So Paul writes:

Ro 12:14 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse.

Jesus talked about this very thing when he gave His sermon on the Mount:  

Mt 5:44 "But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you,
 45 "that you may be sons of your Father 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.
 46 "For if you love those who love you, what reward have you? Do not even the tax collectors do the same?
 47 "And if you greet your brethren only, what do you do more than others? Do not even the tax collectors do so?
 48 "Therefore you shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect.

Notice that He carries it even farther, admonishing us to not only speak well of our enemies, but to actually do good to them and pray for them! This is what marks you as a true son of the Father!

I’m a little concerned over some of the e-mails that make the rounds these days because I don’t see this kind of response from Christians. Instead of speaking well, doing good, and praying, for our enemies, we see just the opposite response!

For example, I am going to pull out just one e-mail making the rounds this Christmas over the Internet. This e-mail is typical of what goes down the information highway when somebody does something that appears to be anti-christian.
“Target Stores have decided to ban the words "Merry Christmas" in their stores starting this holiday season. Please sign this petition, which is about this important issue. The American Family Association is calling for a national boycott of Target Stores on the day after Thanksgiving (the busiest shopping day of the year), please join not shop at Target! Let's get the message across that you cannot take Christ out of Christmas, even if you are trying to hide the very words Merry Christmas! “

Yea! We’ll show them! Don’t you mess with us Christians. We’ll teach you to take Christ out of Christmas! Were you one of the 500,000 people who signed this petition? Apparently you had an effect! Because Target agreed to bring more Christmas into their stores as the holiday drew near.

So apparently we won the battle, but tell me, what kind of an eternal effect do you think this “complaint” had on those who make these kinds of corporate decisions for Target? Did this action draw them nearer to Christ or did it drive them farther away?

Did it help that the e-mail started out with a bit of hypocrisy? Let me read it again. “Target Stores have decided to ban the words "Merry Christmas" in their stores starting this holiday season.”  If we are trying to make a point about leaving Christ in Christmas, why didn’t we say “Christmas season” instead of holiday season?   

Did it help that the e-mail contained false accusations? Target never forbid their employees from saying “Merry Christmas.”  How does that help Christian credibility when we don’t stop long enough to get the facts?

The only thing that Target did, (which most other large retailers did as well, was de-emphasize the words Christmas in their merchandising and replace it with more generic language.)

But what did you expect? Faith in Jesus Christ is not the most important thing to the vast majority of Americans! And is that more of Target’s fault or more of ours?  Hello, the secularization of Christmas has been happening for years folks, and it will continue and even get worse because December 25th isn’t so much about Jesus in our culture as it is about the Almighty Dollar.

And tell me, how does signing these kinds of petitions square with Romans 12:14, and Mt 5:44-48? Are you blessing or cursing?

When you told others about this e-mail, and the “horrible” news that Target employees couldn’t even wish their customers a Merry Christmas, what was your tone? Did you bless Target or curse them? Did you speak well of them, or evil of them?

Did you cancel your shopping trip to Target because of this e-mail? How does that fit in with “doing good” for them? Did you even for a moment consider e-mailing back to the person the above mentioned passages? Did you ever consider contacting Target to get the facts? Did you even consider to pray for these holiday decision makers at Target?

What Paul and Jesus were saying about this,  is those who would persecute or stand against Christianity or remain indifferent to the claims of Christ, have a far worse problem than they are aware of. They are persecuting and standing against and being indifferent to a holy God who will judge them on the Last Day, unless they have a change of heart!

There is a move to have “In God We Trust” removed from our money. Schools change the words to Silent Night in order to be politically correct. Gay marriages. Tolerance of homosexuality. All these things coming at us and we lump it in with persecution. It’s not even close to the kind of persecution that Paul and Jesus are speaking about!

 Nonetheless, those who seek to have any semblance of Christianity removed from the public sector are usually atheists, and unbelievers, and that would make them enemies of Christ, but here in Romans and in Mt 5:44-48, we are told how to deal with His enemies.

Bless them, speak well of them, do good to them, and pray for them.

Why would Jesus tell us to do that? Because vengeance is mine saith the Lord. I will repay! It’s not up to us to exercise vengeance or speak vengeful words. We are to do the things that are more likely to win them to Christ! Namely, speak well, do good, and pray! Christ has a heart for the lost, shouldn’t we?

In our Revelation lecture on Thursday we talked about the fate of those who do not have faith in Jesus Christ.  Re 14:11 "And the smoke of their torment ascends forever and ever; and they have no rest day or night, who worship the beast and his image, and whoever receives the mark of his name."

Did you catch that? No rest day or night! Torment and pain forever and ever and ever! The smoke of their torment is just the opposite of the prayers of the saints which ascend to heaven as the smoke of incense. Instead of the smoke of prayers, it is the smoke of wailing and gnashing of teeth!

Don’t just blow this off! Think about the repercussions, have some empathy for the lost, put yourself in their shoes!

What would life be like with no rest....ever! (It would be like Christmas for the ladies of the house. No rest! Every time I drive by one of those inflated outdoor Christmas decorations and it’s not plugged in, just lying on the ground, I always think of housewives around Christmas. Too pooped to participate!)

But seriously think about it! No rest! Ever! What would it be like to never be able to doze off on the couch on a Sunday afternoon? What would it be like to get home from school and not be able to plop down on the couch? What would it be like to be up in the middle of the night with a hungry baby....eternally?

What would it be like to never get a rest from pain. How would you like an eternal toothache, or backache, or the continual hitting of your thumb with a hammer. We’ve all experienced some degree of physical pain, imagine if it would never, ever stop!

As bad as that pain may be, imagine experiencing non-stop emotional pain! What if loneliness never stopped, or anxiety, or depression? Can you think of anything more horrific than that? Think on these things! There is much at stake here for the lost. This is what it will be like for eternity for those who do not know Jesus!

So speak well of them now, bless them! For no one will speak well of them in eternity. Do good to them now, because there will be no good thing done to them in hell, and pray for them. Pray that they would come to their senses, repent,  and return to the Lord!
I know this isn’t easy, but it’s what our Lord wants us to do. I know that we all get a little pleasure out of deriding the enemy. We are all so good at “I guess I told them a thing or two!” But in your telling, did you draw them nearer to Jesus or did you drive them farther away?

I cringe when I turn on Christian talk radio, because most of the time, I am not hearing Romans 12:14 or Mt 5:44-48 being played out. I am hearing name calling, hurtful innuendo’s, and self-righteous prattle.  And we are far too quick to chime in and pick up the stones.

Now don’t get me wrong, there is a place for correction, there is a place for input from the Christian as it concerns these issues of church and state and morality. There is a place for the Christian on the editorial page. We have not yet reached that stage of persecution in our land.

Use the avenues that God has given us to bring our faith into the marketplace and the public square. Fight for more opportunities after all we are told to pray for our government so we can have these opportunities!

 1Ti 2:1 Therefore I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men,
 2 for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence. (NKJV)

Our prayers are to be aimed at living  under a government that maintains quiet and peace for all. So that we are able to practice godliness and reverence for God!

An inseparable part of godliness and reverence for the Christian is the sharing of the Good News. The winning of souls to Christ. And every action, every word, of the Christian has an effect. We will either be winsome, or nauseating.

Jesus knows the power of our words and deeds and prayers, and that’s why He stresses them in our dealings with the enemies of the Gospel! But we need His help. We need His mind set as it concerns the lost, the enemies of Christ.

We need the Holy Spirit, prompting us to bless when we are tempted to curse, do good when we would just as soon do bad (or nothing at all) , and pray for them when we would just as soon ask for something to spend on ourselves.  Let us learn to yield to Him with increasing frequency.

The unsaved in our land are not our persecutors yet, but they are potential persecutors, so why not learn to deal with them on a biblical basis now instead of later.

A scientist once conducted an experiment in his laboratory. From the ceiling he hung an iron ball that weighed 2000 pounds. Beside it he hung a small ball of cork from the ceiling. he used an electric motor to keep the cork ball swinging against the iron ball.

After many days of constantly hitting the 2000 pound iron ball with the feather-light little cork ball, the iron ball began to move and soon it was swinging back and forth with a wider and wider movement. The persistence of the little cork ball paid off.

Our efforts to witness for Christ and to influence people often seem so fruitless and we’re so prone to give up. We’re trying to lead people to Christ and they don’t budge an inch. We bless, we do good, we pray but we don’t seem to be getting anywhere. Remember the lesson of the little cork ball and the 2000 pound iron ball.  Remember the words of the Apostle Paul in Gal. 6:9

 Ga 6:9 And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart.

Do not weary in speaking well of unbelievers,  do not tire of doing good for the unsaved,  and never cease from praying for the lost! This is what you have been called to do and it identifies you as a true son of God.