Showing posts with label Blessing Your Enemies. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Blessing Your Enemies. Show all posts

Saturday, April 29, 2006

Peter on Blessing Your Enemies

Finally, all of you be of one mind, having compassion for one another; love as brothers, be tenderhearted, be courteous; not returning evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary blessing, knowing that your were called to this, that you may inherit a blessing. For “He who would love life and see good days, let him refrain his tongue from evil, and his lips from speaking deceit. Let him turn away from evil and do good; let him seek peace and pursue it.” (1 Peter 3:8-11)
Often, our enemy may be one who is in our community, our own church, even our own family. They do us wrong, and we want to return the favor. We want to give back to them what they have given us. But that is not the way to go, Peter says. We were made for much better things, and to respond in much better ways. We were made for blessing — to inherit blessing, to walk in blessing, to extend blessing to others, even those who do us evil and revile us.

If you want to enjoy life and see many good days, give up the idea of paying back evil with evil. Seek peace with your enemy. Love your enemy and bless him. If you find it hard to speak kindly toward him and bless him, then do yourself a favor — shut your mouth. For whatever evil you speak toward him will invariably be a lie. Oh, it may be accurate and based in fact — but it will not be the truth. The truth is that God wants to bring him to the place of blessing and reconciliation. Your curses will not help.

If you want to enjoy life and see many good days, love your enemies and bless them. Then you will be walking in your divine inheritance.

Friday, April 28, 2006

Paul on Blessing Your Enemies

Repay no one evil for evil. Have regard for good things in the sight of all men. If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men. Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord. Therefore “If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him a drink; for in so doing you will heap coals of fire on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. (Romans 12:17-21)
God knows how to deal with your enemies, and He doesn’t need your help. He is not out to destroy them, but to give them opportunity to repent, so He can bless them.

If you try to repay evil with evil, you do not settle the score, but only make things twice as bad. For then there will be two acts of evil instead of one, and the evil you perpetrate is just as damaging to you as the one perpetrated against you. No, always meditate on and present what is good, and let that become evident to all.

It may not be possible to live at peace with all men — some just will not have it, and you cannot make them wear it. But you can control what you do (one of the fruits of the Spirit is self-control, Galatians 5:23). Regardless of what your enemy may say or do, your efforts must always be toward peace. That is where the wisdom of God is found (James 3:17).

Now Paul quotes from Proverbs 25:21-22:
If you enemy is hungry, give him bread to eat;
And if he is thirsty, give him water to drink;
For so you will heap coals of fire on his head,
And the LORD will reward you.
You are not going to be able to starve out your enemy and have any satisfaction from it. Any evil you do to him will boomerang against you — it’s a matter of seedtime and harvest. But the kindness you show will heap coals of fire on his head. That is, it may well cause him to come to repentance (earlier, in Romans 2:4, Paul said that the kindness of God leads to repentance). But if not, God knows how to deal with the matter.

So the best option is always to respond with good, not evil. If you try to repay evil with evil, you will yourself be overcome, swallowed up by your own evil. Good is greater than evil and must eventually overcome it — for God is great and God is good.

Return evil for evil, and you will have to deal with the consequences yourself. Keep doing good, and let God deal with the consequences, and you will get the reward.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Moses and David Blessed Their Enemies

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. (Matthew 5:44)
We have seen how Joseph blessed his enemies. Now let’s take a look at how Moses blessed his enemies. After the tenth and final plague, the death of the firstborn, hit all of Egypt, including Pharaoh’s house, Pharaoh called for Moses:
Then he called for Moses and Aaron by night, and said, “rise, go out from among my people, both you and the children of Israel. And go, serve the Lord as you have said. Also take your flocks and your herds, as you have said, and be gone; and bless me also.” (Exodus 12:31-32)
The Hebrew people have always been a people of blessing. Even in their captivity, they did not forget how to bless. Apparently, this was not lost on Pharaoh. When he decided to let the children of Israel go, he had finally had enough of the plagues, so he begged a blessing from Moses.

Cecil B. DeMille never showed it in The Ten Commandments, but can you picture Moses (Charlton Heston) placing his hands on Pharaoh’s (Yul Brynner) bald pate, and speaking a blessing over him? Of course, Pharaoh changed his mind, and soon the chase was on (a really dumb move on Pharaoh’s part).

David also blessed his enemies, and he details it for us in the Psalms.
Fierce witness rise up;
  They ask me things that I do no know.
They reward me evil for good,
  To the sorrow of my soul.
But as for me, when they were sick,
  My clothing was sackcloth;
I humbled myself with fasting;
  And my prayer would return to my own heart.
I paced about as though he were my friend or brother;
  I bowed down heavily, as one who mourns for his mother.
(Psalm 35:11-14)
When David’s enemies were sick, he did not triumph over them. Rather, he went into mourning for them, grieving over their distress. He fasted, and bowed his head in intense prayer for their recovery. He responded to the news of their pain as if they had been his friend or brother, or even his own mother. This was no affectation, but a sincere expression of concern.

David thus loved his enemies and blessed them, even though they did not return the favor. For in the next verses we read:
But in my adversity they rejoiced
  And gathered together;
Attackers gathered against me,
  And I did not know it;
  They tore at me and did not cease;
With ungodly mockers at feasts
  They gnashed at me with their teeth.
(Psalm 35:15-16)
This was certainly not the first time David prayed for his enemies and had it thrown back in his face. But that did not change his ways. Saul tried to kill him, but when he had a chance to kill Saul, he refused. Even so, Saul did not relent. Absalom instigated a rebellion and tried to overthrow him, but David wept bitterly at his demise.

David was a skillful warrior and king, but at heart, he was still a shepherd, and so he blessed. This is instructive for us, especially considering that it comes to us from one whom God called “a man after My own heart, who will do all My will” (Acts 13:22).

Now, we might look at the examples of Moses and David (and Joseph; see Joseph Blessed His Enemies) and think, “Yeah, but they were holy men of God.” But consider what Jesus had to say about that:
For I say to you, among those born of women there is not a greater prophet than John the Baptist; but he who is least in the kingdom of God is greater than he. (Luke 7:28)
John the Baptist was the last prophet of the Old Testament era. No one was greater than he — not Joseph, not Moses, not David. And yet, even the one who is least in the kingdom of God is greater than he. If you know the Lord Jesus Christ, you are in the kingdom of God, and therefore, greater than John the Baptist. You have the stuff to do what they all did, because it is not longer about you, but about God in you.

If Joseph, Moses and David could all forgive and bless their enemies, so can all those who belong to the Lord Jesus Christ. Not only is it possible, it is God’s way for you and me.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Joseph Blessed His Enemies

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. (Matthew 5:44)
Joseph was cruelly treated by his ten older brothers. They hated him because he was their father’s favorite, and because he dreamed of greatness. At first they conspired to kill him, but then decided to abandon him in a pit in the wilderness. While they were about that dirty work, an Ishmaelite caravan came along, so they figured it would be more profitable for them to sell their little brother into slavery.

So Joseph became a slave in Egypt. Before long, because of the treachery of Potiphar’s wife, he spent many years in prison. But God was good to Joseph, even in the midst of hard circumstances, and through wonderful providence, Joseph rose to power and became second in command over all the land of Egypt.

When famine came upon Egypt and the surrounding territories, Joseph’s father, Jacob, sent all his brothers down to buy grain. Joseph was presented with a delicious opportunity for revenge. At first he hid his identity from them, spoke roughly and tested them. Finally, he revealed himself to them: “I am Joseph your brother, whom you sold into Egypt” (Genesis 45:4). Was he about to lower the boom on them? Quite the opposite; he reassured them.
But now, do not therefore be grieved or angry with yourselves because you sold me here; for God sent me before you to preserve life … And God sent me before you to preserve a posterity for you in the earth, and to save your lives by a great deliverance. So now it was not you who sent me here, but God; and He has made me a father to Pharaoh, and lord of all his house, and a ruler throughout all the land of Egypt … You shall dwell in the land of Goshen, and you shall be near to me, you and your children, your children’s children , your flocks and your herds, and all that you have. There I will provide for you, lest you and your household and all that you have come to poverty; for there are still five years of famine. (Genesis 45:5, 7-8, 10-11)
So Jacob and all his family came and settled in Goshen, and there they prospered, just as Joseph promised. But then Jacob died, and Joseph’s brothers began to wonder.
When Joseph’s brothers saw that their father was dead, they said, “Perhaps Joseph will hate us, and may actually repay us for all the evil which we did to him.” So they sent messengers to Joseph, saying, “Before your father died he commanded, saying, ‘Thus you shall say to Joseph: “I beg you, please forgive the trespass of your brothers and their sin; for they did evil to you.”’ Now, please, forgive the trespass of the servants of the God of your father.” And Joseph wept when they spoke to him.

Then his brothers also went and fell down before his face, and they said, “Behold, we are your servants.” Joseph said to them, “Do not be afraid, for am I in the place of God? But as for you, you meant evil against met, but God meant it for good, in order to bring it about as it is this day, to save many people alive. Now therefore, do not be afraid; I will provide for you and your little ones.” And he comforted them and spoke kindly to them. (Genesis 50:15-21)
Joseph discovered that God is far greater than our circumstances and any evil that can be perpetrated against us. So he was able to not only forgive, but to bless and love those who had betrayed him and treated him so shamefully.

God is greater than any evil or betrayal done against you, to deliver, heal and restore you in every way. If you will forgive, His love will enable you to love and bless even those who have hurt you the most.

Monday, April 24, 2006

Beyond Forgiveness to Blessing

You have heard that it was said, “You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.” 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, 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. (Matthew 5:43-45)
Some Christians think that you don’t have to forgive unless the other person has apologized. But in the sermon on the mount, Jesus blows that idea out of the water. He tells us to love our enemies. He tells us to bless those who curse us. He tells us to do good to those who hate us. He tells us to pray for those who spitefully use us.

These are obviously not people who have repented and apologized to us, and yet, we are called to do much more than forgive them. To forgive means that we let go of the offense someone has perpetrated against us. We give up the right for pay-backs or revenge. We forgive, not just for their sake, but for ours as well. By releasing the offender, we release ourselves from the offense, and are no longer held back by it — we are free to move forward with our lives.

But it is not enough to take a neutral position, simply to refrain from hating our enemies, cursing those who curse us, doing ill toward those who hate us, and being spiteful to those who use us. Such restraint is wise and healthy and good. But much more is required of those who follow Jesus.

Now, someone will say, “But you don’t understand what so and so did to me.” And maybe I don’t. But Jesus does, for He was mocked and scorned and nailed to a cross. And He tells you to love and bless your enemies.

Yes, it is very difficult — even impossible — to live that way. In our own strength, we cannot do it at all. We need divine assistance. That’s why Jesus adds, “that you may be sons of your Father in heaven.” The essence of fatherhood is inheritance, which means that a son is like his father. Our Father in heaven shows love and forgiveness even to those who hate Him. They may reject that love and forgiveness and so never enjoy His blessing, but that is because of their own unbelief and rebellion, not because the Father is unwilling.

And indeed, we might love our enemy and it won’t make one bit of difference to them. We might bless those who curse us, and find that they curse us still. We might do good for those who just continue to hate us. We might pray for the sake of those who spitefully use us, and they may yet persecute us.

No matter. It is the nature of the sons of God to manifest the character of our Father in heaven. Now, that is not how we become the sons of the Father. We become His sons through faith in Jesus Christ. “But as many as received Him [Jesus], to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name” (John 1:12). Through faith in Him, we are born again, born from above, by the Spirit of God. It is through the power of the Holy Spirit that we can begin to forgive, love and bless our enemies. When we do, we demonstrate that we truly are sons of the Father, because that is what He does. Indeed, we have the authority and power to act that way precisely because we are His children.

As children of God, we have the right to display His love, His grace, and even His power to the world. Jesus invites us to move past our own resources and step into divine sonship with Him, to let the love of the Father be revealed in and through us. It is a radical shift for us, but that is why He has given us the Holy Spirit. It is in this divine empowerment that we learn, not only how to forgive, but to move beyond forgiveness to blessing.

The Kingdom of Heaven on Earth

The Kingdom of Heaven on Earth
Keys to the Kingdom of God
in the Gospel of Matthew

by Jeff Doles

Preview with Amazon’s “Look Inside.”

Available in paperback and Kindle (Amazon), epub (Google and iTunes) and PDF.

Monday, September 19, 2005

Created For the Glory

For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. (Romans 3:23)
The bummer is that all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. But the good news is that God created us to share in, walk in, experience and come into intimate relationship with His glory.
For the LORD God is a sun and shield;
The LORD will give grace and glory.
(Psalm 84:11)
That is why God gave us the Torah — that’s the Hebrew word for it, but you and I generally hear it referred to at “the Law.” However,  it can just as well be translated as “instruction.” It is related to the Hebrew verb form, yarah, which means to aim or direct, as a spear or arrow. God gave us His instruction so we could live on-target lives and experience His blessing and prosperity — the glory of God — in everything we do.

The problem is that we have all missed the mark. That is what the Greek word for sin, hamartia, literally means (the Hebrew word for sin means the same thing). We have fallen short of the target. We were created, not only to experience the glory of God, but to wear it like a garment. But by disobedience, we lost that.That is why Jesus came:
The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 6:23)
When Adam fell into sin and lost the glory of God, God immediately had a plan to restore it through Jesus Christ. It was a plan to destroy sin and its effects and once again direct our lives to the target of His glory — only this time through the Lord Jesus Christ. It is eternal life — the Tree of Life — and we receive it by receiving the Lord Jesus. The glory we receive in Him is the exact same glory with which God glorified Jesus. Jesus gives it to us freely (John 17:22).

You were created to experience and share in the glory of God given to Jesus Christ. Though you have sinned and fallen short of that target, Jesus has taken the penalty of your sin upon Himself. In its place, He offers you the Tree of Life and the full expression of the glory He received from God the Father.