Bless Your enemies
One evening a railway missionary was preaching outside the bar of a large city station. A group of drunken men cursed and jeered at him. As the whistle sounded for the train’s departure, he leaned out of the window for a few final words. One of the men, his face livid with fury, came right up to him, stuck his face inches away from that of God’s servant and spat in his eye. A deadly silence descended upon the group. The train began to move. Wiping the spittle from his cheek with his handkerchief, the missionary smiled, stretched forth his hand towards the man, and said clearly, yet gently:“The Lord bless you, my brother!” The watching men stood in stunned silence, their mouths agape as the train departed.
Towards midnight the train stopped at another large city station. God’s servant was awakened by someone calling loudly for the missionary. Standing forlornly on the platform was the man who had spat in his face. Still in his pyjamas, the missionary stepped onto the platform to join him.
“I took an express train to catch up to you,” gasped the man. “When you reached out your hand to bless me, it was as if an electric current flowed from you to me. I want to know your Jesus.”
Jesus said, “But I tell you who hear me: Love your enemies. Do good to those who hate you. Bless those who curse you. Pray for those who ill-treat you. Love your enemies. Do good to them and lend to them without expecting anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, because He is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.” Luke 6:27, 35-36.
Going the extra mile
This is perhaps the most ignored of Jesus’ teachings, yet also one of the most powerful and profound. This instruction to bless our enemies flies in the face of every survival instinct – every law of self-preservation. We recoil from the thought, particularly when raw and hurting from some vicious attack on ourselves or our loved ones. Instead of blessing, we want to bring down the curses of God upon our enemies. We long to see them destroyed.
Here are powerful guidelines for how to bless our enemies.
• Be blessed with the PRESENCE of God.
• Be blessed with the POWER of God
• Be blessed with the PEACE of God
• Be blessed with the PROTECTION of God
• Be blessed with the PURPOSES of God
Just think what such a blessing implies: it is calling down the Presence and Power of the Most High, the Almighty and awesome God of creation and re-creation, to settle over our enemies. The Apostle Paul puts it this way:
“If your enemy is hungry, feed him; If he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals of fire on his head.”
The ‘burning coals of fire’ sounds more appealing, but we need to remind ourselves it is the ‘burning fire of God’s Holy Presence’. When you bless your enemies, this is what you are calling down upon them. There is no need to be specific or prescriptive. Just let God be God.
Now for the practical bit. When you are burning with pain or outrage, try praying the ‘Five-P Blessing’ over the person responsible for your hurt. Do it as an act of your will. Do it repeatedly.
Two amazing things will happen: You will experience the Holy Spirit joining you in the blessing as the God of mercy begins to touch your enemy; you will feel the bitter poison of hatred and unforgiveness draining from you. This is the first step towards offering forgiveness – and it is one which God also requires. When we act like this, we are truly ‘children of God’.
The story of the Apostle Paul is one of the greatest stories of courage and Christian heroism ever told. He was beaten five times with the dreaded scourge of 39 lashes and three times with rods, cursed, punched, savaged by howling mobs, hated and betrayed by the Jews and those close to him. What was the secret that enabled him to become ‘more than a conqueror’? I believe it was his ability to bless his enemies, even while the vicious lashes were tearing his body to shreds.
Luke never wrote of these things in Acts. I believe it was because Paul forbade him to do so, for fear that he might be revered instead of Christ. But Paul undoubtedly knew the power of blessing his enemies and rejoiced that he was able to conquer enemy strongholds and win them for Christ.
In South Africa, we need to pray down the blessings of God upon those whom we perceive to be our enemies in government, society and in prison. What a change this could make! Can we ever gauge the effect that a blessing in God’s Name and Power could have on another human being? God will reveal it to us one day and we will see how our love for others led them closer to Him.