Speaking blessings into people’s lives does not come naturally for me. My old nature is ever-present to take over and tear down my enemies. My old nature is to defeat my enemies at all cost.
This is what makes Jesus so radical. He commands us to love and pray for our enemies. I don’t know about you but without Jesus’ supernatural grace and power I am incapable of such behavior. In fact, it is counter-intuitive to me:
“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.” (Matthew 5:43-44)
My first instinct with this command is to reject it outright. No one deserves such grace (I know, stay with me). Why would I bless someone who curses me? Why would I love someone who is my enemy? Why would I do good to someone who hates me? Why would I pray for someone who takes advantage of me and persecutes me?
Well the obvious reason is to obey Jesus. However, it is important to remember with every Biblical precept and principle there is protection and provision. One of the most destructive human emotions is bitterness. Bitterness congers up visions of retaliation and revenge, and these only lead to personal defeat and destruction. The bitter one is always the one in bondage; it is never the object of your bitterness. Our mental health depends on how we view our 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.” (Romans 12:17-18)
So I may be able to overcome my old vengeful nature, but how do I overcome my old selfish nature? I would naturally wonder, “What’s in it for me?” I would want to know what advantage it would be for me to treat my enemies with such grace. I understand that obedience of itself is enough blessing for my life, but how do I answer my old selfish nature through Scripture. The Apostle Peter writes:
“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 you were called to this, that you may inherit a blessing.” (1 Peter 3:8-9)
Dear Christian, if we are to be truly transformed by the renewing of our minds, then we will have to understand that Christian love does not look like human love. Christian love means being dispensers of grace, pouring blessings into those who do not deserve it. That is why it is called grace; unmerited favor of which you and I have been abundantly blessed.
I can think of fewer examples that witnesses to a lost world than a Christian returning good for evil. Jesus is not commanding us to be doormats for those who abuse us. He wants our love to radically change the world just as His love for us changed our world.
I am radically changed because Jesus’ teachings are radical. By radical I mean that Jesus’ teaching were completely contrary to the accepted or traditional forms of 1st Century Jewish culture. What made Jesus teachings so powerful is the authority with which He taught:
“And so it was, when Jesus had ended these sayings, that the people were astonished at His teaching, for He taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes.” (Matthew 7:28-29)
The way I defeat my old nature, the way I change an old habit, is to develop a new habit. I must retrain the way I think. I do so by learning a new way to live my life and my source for higher learning is the Bible.
In this precious book is all I need to learn about Jesus, why I need a savior, and how I can trust Christ with my life.
I pray that you will do so today.
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Copyright © 2015 David Jeffers