When someone does us wrong, something in our human nature erupts. We want to “get” the person or people who have “gotten” us! We often talk about wanting to…Get back at them.Get even with them.Get ahead of them.Get over them.
The word “get” shows up quite frequently in our language of retribution and revenge. This “getting back at them” seems “fair” to us — it is our way of extracting “justice” in an unfair world. Not only do “getting back” and “getting even” and “getting ahead” seem fair, they feel right.
“Getting back at them” seems right… until we start listening to God. God challenges us to approach our world’s unfairness and underhandedness redemptively. Our Father in heaven calls us to bless in the face of hardship, mistreatment, and being cursed:Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult, but with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing (1 Peter 3:9 NIV — the apostle Peter).Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse (Romans 12:14 NIV –the apostle Paul).We work hard with our own hands. When we are cursed, we bless… (1 Corinthians 4:12 NIV — the apostle Paul about apostles).Bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you (Luke 6:28 NIV — Jesus to his disciples).
In fact, Jesus says:
Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven (Matthew 5:10 NIV — Jesus to his disciples).
More than an aberration or a once-in-a-great-while response in the face of evil, this is to be our redemptive response, always. Ouch! That’s hard. It’s not something we want to do. It is hard to do and on a very human level, it doesn’t seem to make any sense at all. However, Jesus is our greatest example of this principle and we claim to be his followers. His life and his actions as he faced the cross are powerful challenges to our world’s way of doing things. Yet the principle of blessing others goes all the way back to the call of Abraham.
Abraham’s call is the origin of this principle, but this principle of blessing is to be embedded into the spiritual DNA of God’s people through all ages. When the world was hopelessly lost and caught in the death spiral of evil that we find in the first eleven chapters of the Bible, God called a man — and through him he called a family, a nation, and a people — to be different and to bring redemption. Look at the call of Abraham and the purpose of that call:
The LORD had said to Abram, “Leave your country, your people and your father’s household and go to the land I will show you.
“I will make you into a great nation and I will BLESS you; I will make your name great, and you will be a BLESSing. I will BLESS those who BLESS you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be BLESSed through you” (Genesis 12:1-3 — emphasis on the word “bless” added).
In a world full of bitterness, hatred, rivalry, hostility, meanness, gossip, slander, violence, and cursing, God has called us to be a reflection of his grace, generosity, forgiveness, and blessing. Abraham was called to be a blessing and frequently demonstrated it. Jesus displayed it throughout his life and powerfully lived it through his arrest, trials, and crucifixion. Now, we are called to follow their examples and leave an imprint of blessing on our world so deeply in need of God’s grace. It seems crazy to our basic instincts. It is counter-intuitive to our way of thinking. But, it is our call and for our own ultimate blessing!
Paul said it well for us all:
I do all this for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings (1 Corinthians 9:23 NIV — the apostle Paul).
I want to encourage you to read an old article that was done years ago. You can find it here: “The Heavenly Boomerang” — http://hlt.me/PNPROJ .
Don’t miss the free compilation of blessings that you can share with others. You can find it here: “The Book of Blessings” — http://hlt.me/PNROjD .
© Phil Ware. All rights reserved.
Phil Ware is minister of the Word at Southern Hills Church in Abilene, Texas. For the past 15+ years, he has also been co-editor of HEARTLIGHT Magazine. For more details, click here.
Website: The Phil Files