Summary: Continuation of the expository study of the Book of Romans
Book of Romans Study
Lesson # 33 – Romans 12:14-16
By Rev. James May
As we continue our study of Romans chapter 12 we will see that the Apostle Paul is giving us a lot of practical means of being obedient servants and faithful Disciples of Christ. As we grow in the Lord, the things that Paul is writing to us should become more evident. Growing in the Lord means that we are continually taking on his nature and characteristics while our own are diminishing.
Just as John said in John 3:30, “He must increase and I must decrease”, so shall it be for anyone who is a true follower of Jesus.
Now let us continue as we see more of these practical ways of living for the Lord.
Romans 12:14 Bless them which persecute you: bless, and curse not.
Bless – Greek meaning: to speak well of in a religious sense by invoking a prayer upon them that will make them to prosper in their spiritual condition.
Jesus told us that we would be hated for his name’s sake. He warned that those who chose to follow him would be as sheep for the slaughter. All through history it has been the lot of those who served God to be persecuted for their beliefs, and since Jesus came on the scene and declared that he alone is the Savior, that persecution has increased even more. If you serve Jesus and declare his name, get ready because persecution is coming. You may have already faced some ridicule and persecution, but you must know that as evil increases, persecution will increase too. The world hates Jesus, and because you serve him and preach him, the world hates you too.
If you are being persecuted for your faith in Jesus, how many of us would find it hard to do bless those who are doing the persecuting? You really must have the heart of Jesus to withstand persecution and have a heart of love and compassion for those who are being so spiteful to you.
(This kind of love was seen in the story of the Hiding Place when Corrie Ten Boom’s sister, Betsie, was constantly saying, “pray for the guards. Don’t become bitter toward them.” Instead of calling on the Lord to bring them to judgment and stop the persecution, she said to call upon the Lord to bless them and help them to prosper in their lives to the point of becoming a Christian and joining in the work of the Lord. To have such a heart of love, even while the enemy was destroying her life in Ravensbruck Death Camp is miraculous.)
The nature of the flesh is to call down fire on their heads; to retaliate and seek revenge for the persecution. The flesh would prefer to curse those who are spitefully using you and causing you trouble and pain.
I know that there are many Christians, perhaps some even in this room right now, who would think that what I’m about to say is crazy. But before you call the padded wagon, let me remind you of what Paul is saying. We are to pray for those who persecute us and not curse them.
There are lot of issues going on right now in our country that could easily bring persecution to the church in one form or another as the laws are changed and declarations are accepted, seemingly for the cause of national security or equal rights.
One of those is gun control, where our constitutional right to keep and bear arms and have certain weapons is being challenged and slowly taken away. It begins with assault weapons and high capacity magazines, but the end will only come when no citizen is allowed to have any type of weapon. In so doing, supposedly it will protect us from one another.
Now I’m not going to talk about the many wrong suppositions that fuel this change, because anyone with even the slightest of common sense knows that it’s not the guns, but the condition of the heart of the man who has his finger on the trigger that’s the real problem.
Driven by fear and worried about their safety and freedoms, many Christians are stocking up and declaring, “They can take my gun only if they take it from my cold dead fingers.” It all sounds patriotic and is a declaration that I won’t go softly into the darkness. No one will take my freedoms easily. I’ll fight for them.
The Bible tells us that if we live by the sword, we will die by the sword. I’m not for gun control, but I’m not for stocking up to shoot anyone that comes to take them either. Does anyone here think that he can stop it from happening if it ever becomes the law of the land? How many people are we willing to shoot to keep your guns? Will that stop anything? No, it will only serve to make things worse. It’s hard to pray for your persecutors if you’re shooting them first!