“Bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you.”
- Jesus, from the Sermon on the Mount (Luke 6:28)
When Jesus commanded us to love our enemies, he was not giving us an abstract unattainable ideal. By fulfilling his own commands as he died on the cross, he purchased our redemption, providing us with an example to follow and the power necessary to obey.
“Love your enemy.” This command is surely one of Jesus’ most difficult sayings. Return blessings for curses and prayer for abuse. How can we begin to obey this strong saying?
The person who gossips, spreads lies, and accuses us wrongly behind our back may truly become like an enemy to us. Our response must be to speak well of the hurtful person, thus pouring water on their fire.
The great temptation is to fight back with even harsher words, but Jesus commands us to avoid this trap by speaking blessings instead of cursing. Only love-filled speech can free us from the entanglement of hateful speech that tries to spin its web around us in hopes of dominating our conversation.
Even though the blessing we return may not stop the abuse, our only choice, according to Jesus, is prayer – not payback…
Reaching out – not retaliation…
Resolution to do good instead of resentment of the bad…
Jesus does not encourage us to fight the one who mistreats us. Instead, he demands we pray for the one who hurts us and fills our life with pain.
And nowhere do we see a better example of keeping this command than in Jesus himself. Jesus lived out His teaching when He prayed for those who mocked Him as He hung dying on the cross.
Likewise, even in the midst of our suffering, we must continue praying for the one who would harm us.
The command remains always: Continue loving; continue blessing; continue praying. Even when we see no response, with hope in our hearts and Christ’s love in our lives, we can bless the curser and pray for the abuser.
The more we obey this command, the more we will see that even if there is no change in our enemy, Christ is surely bringing about change in us.