Jan 25, 2015
Romans 12: Living Life
Study 21: Bless and pray
Paul here seems to have had some teaching about what Jesus taught for here he echoes Jesus, who is now His master. (Matthew 5:43-44 and Luke 6:27-28.)
To bless means to show kindness and love. Do you have enemies – people who don’t like you or loathe you because you are a Christian or for some other reason? I know some people who have been totally disowned by their own families because they became Christians. How are we to react? Paul here, echoes Jesus, commands that we are to show kindness and love. That is what bless means here - seeking the welfare of those that would cause us harm. It is a challenge to us because our natural reaction is usually to fight back or to ignore - that is curse. But we are challenged to pray for those who would wish us harm. Praying for their welfare is showing love for those who wish us harm. How can this be done? It can only be done using the power and strength of the Holy Spirit within us rather than attempting to do it in our own strength.
Paul here is a good example. Just a few years ago, Paul was going around persecuting the church. The first Christian Martyr was Stephen, as told to us in Acts 7:59-60. “While they were stoning him, Stephen prayed, ‘Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.’ Then he fell on his knees and cried out, ‘Lord, do not hold this sin against them.’ When he had said this, he fell asleep.”
Saul was standing there watching. Saul who we know now became Paul – our writer! Shortly after this event, Saul was arrested by Jesus whom He was persecuting. Paul has changed! His motto now is “bless those who persecute you.” Whereas his motto before was “Love your neighbour but hate your enemy!” What a change under the power of the Holy Spirit!
This is of course a picture of the Gospel. God showed love for His enemies, by sending His Son Jesus to die, so that all of humanity could change from being enemies of God to being friends of God.
Go! Bless others who are against you. Go and also pray for the persecuted church around the world – for they are your Christian family.