Scripture Reading: Romans 12:14-17 (The Message)
14 Bless your enemies; no cursing under your breath.
15 Laugh with your happy friends when they’re happy; share tears when they’re down.
16 Get along with each other; don’t be stuck-up. Make friends with nobodies; don’t be the great somebody.17 Don’t hit back; discover beauty in everyone.
Thought for the day:
So far, this list of things to do in Romans 12 haven’t been too difficult with which to comply. The call to be genuine in our love and devoted to others isn’t easy but I think we’d all give that a shot. None of us really want to be lazy so we’d probably put in a bit of an effort to avoid being labelled as such. We love the prospect of being full of joy especially when there’s something good to look forward to. However, the concept of being afflicted jars somewhat in this list. Add to that the fact that we are to be patient through those tough times and we’re beginning to have a slightly different perspective on Romans 12. It started so well but it’s all going downhill now!
Well, if everything was a smooth ride up to this point, I’m sure that verse 14 will hit you like a truck. The fact however, is that verse 14 isn’t as remote as you may first think. It is very closely related to the previous verse and is in perfect keeping with all of the Scripture. Verse 13 tells us to do good to those who are in need and to practise hospitality. Verse 14 tells us to ‘bless those who persecute you’, or as the Message states ‘bless your enemies’.
It certainly is not obvious when reading this in English but the original Greek word used for ‘practice’ in verse 13 is the same word translated as ‘persecute’ in verse 14. At its root meaning, it just means ‘to run after or to drive away’. We are to run after, to pursue hospitality in a good way, to do all we can to seek the goal of doing good to those in need. The play on words in verse 14 is easily missed in English. This kind of a pursuit in a good way is admirable, but when we are pursued with hostility it isn’t a pleasant thing. As we do good, there are always those people who dislike us and will pursue or persecute us for those very things that they too would consider to be good. People hated Jesus and so in this world, we too, if we identify with Christ, will know something of that same persecution and hatred. How are we to respond? This is the truck that is going to hit us: we are to bless them. What does it mean ‘to bless’? In this context it means ‘to invoke God’s blessing upon’. Saying the words isn’t enough though, we are to bless and not curse under our breath!
Prayer and Application:
This runs entirely in conflict with our human nature where we struggle to see injustice go unpunished. We are not only to do good to those in need but we are to genuinely ask God to bless our enemies. Now that’s a tough call!