In our previous lesson we learned the key idea and Scripture upon which this lesson is based.
- Romans 12:21
- Aggressive good overcomes the evil we cannot stand in others.
The idea of doing good to people we cannot stand seems impossible at times and that is why we need to start with small steps. In this session we'll examine how to begin this process.
Blessings and not Cursing - Romans 12:14
It would be great to be able to ask God to simply make the conflict go away in our lives and "poof" everything would be rosy. It does not happen this way because the blood of Christ takes away the hostility between ourselves and God but not between ourselves and the people we cannot stand. For this to be removed we, ourselves, must be involved and doing so with the help of Christ.
Paul helps us understand the process of removing this hatred, this dislike from our hearts with his instructions in Romans 12:14.
Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse.
- Romans 12:14
Christians will be persecuted for a variety of reasons, it is a promise.
Indeed, all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.
- II Timothy 3:12
Persecuted for our beliefs (Jesus vs. Pagan), persecuted for our moral stand.
Sometimes we are persecuted because our conscience will not permit us to simply hate someone we dislike and leave it at that. The Spirit within us demands that we fight this weakness of the flesh. We cannot go through life without being wronged somehow by family, friends, the people in the church or the world and when that happens we must overcome evil with good. But how? Paul says that we need to begin with our mouths. Do not curse, he says, instead bless your enemy when you are wronged.
Let us examine these two key words so we can understand what we are to avoid and what we are called on to do.
This word originally meant to doom, to desire or call down punishment or destruction. We curse in four ways:
1. In popular usage, we use vulgar language.
2. In relationships, we say bad things to God about someone. David would sometimes do this to his enemies
Let death come deceitfully upon them;
Let them go down alive to Sheol,
For evil is in their dwelling, in their midst.
- Psalm 55:15
3. We talk badly about someone to other people. We are guilty of cursing when we have nothing good to say about a particular person or continually bring up the personal slight we have suffered by this person to others. We do this when complaining about people at work or even worse, brethren who have offended us or church leaders who are not functioning in a way we think they should.
4. We talk badly to the person themselves. Threats, angry words and giving them the silent treatment. These are all ways of cursing the person we cannot stand.
The word blessing means to speak well of or to thank or invoke a prayer on behalf of someone else. We also bless in the following ways:
1. Say good things about that person to God. It is hard to stay angry and hate the one you are praying for. For example, Jesus asked God to forgive those who crucified him (Luke 23:32). On Pentecost Sunday many of these same people were among the 3000 who were forgiven when they believed in Jesus, repented of their sins and were baptized in His name (Acts 2:37-41). Stephen asked God to forgive those who had persecuted him and were stoning him (Acts 7:60). Not long after, one of these, Saul, was converted (Acts 22:16). Job 42:10 says that after Job prayed for his friends who had treated him badly, he received twice as much as he had before his suffering.
2. Say good things about your enemy to others. The fastest way to cool the fires division and hurt between you and another is to begin to say what you know is good about your enemy. The bad may still be there, but you choose to find and repeat only the good. Stop using the "but" word, (i.e. "He's a good guy, but...negative comment"). Neutralizing the acid of your own hatred takes away any reason for your enemy to hate you or others to continue fanning the flames that fuel your separation.
3. Say something good to the person you cannot stand. You might not be able to settle or solve the problem with them in person, it is not always in your power to do so. However, you can choose to say what is good to them for their edification. Jesus says that we will be judged by the things that come out of our mouths (Matthew 12:37), even the things we say to those we cannot stand.
We may not have the solution, get the apology, receive the power to change the person we cannot stand or erase the hurt they have caused. We have to concentrate, therefore, on what we can do and what is within our power to do. One of these is to avoid the negative. Stop complaining to God, bad mouthing to others, or acting in an unchristian way towards the one we cannot stand. We need to begin finding good things to say about this person to God and others, and expressing good and positive things to them in their company. This is the beginning point of overcoming evil with good.
- In what places have you most often been wronged or received persecutions? (Each discuss)
- When you curse, which of the four ways does it usually manifest itself? (vulgarity, God, gossip, the person) - Open discussion
- Why does "blessing" your enemy seem so foolish to the world? - Open discussion
- What obstacles stop you from blessing the one you hate?