Sermons

Summary: Bless those who persecute you! Learn to reverse the process of evil by incorporating a God-empowered response towards your enemies!

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THERE ARE A LOT OF DIFFERENCES BETWEEN CHRISTIANITY AND OTHER RELIGIONS. ONE OF THOSE DIFFERENCES IS THE WAY WE TREAT THOSE WHO ARE OUR ENEMIES.

THIS IS ONE OF THE CONSISTENT TEACHINGS OF JESUS. JESUS MODELED FOR US THE WAY HE WANTS US TO DEAL WITH OUR ENEMIES. JESUS’ SAYS THAT WE SHOULD NEVER TREAT OUR ENEMIES BASED ON WHAT WE THINK THEY DESERVE.

SO, HOW ARE WE TO REACT TO OUR ENEMIES? THE NATURAL REACTION OF ONE WHO DOES NOT KNOW CHRIST IS TO STRIKE BACK AND TO SEEK THE GREATEST RETRIBUTION POSSIBLE. BUT THIS IS NOT THE CHRISTIAN RESPONSE.

IF WE ARE GOING TO HAVE SUCCESS IN OUR CHRISTIAN LIFE AND ALLOW GOD TO MINISTRY THROUGH US TO THE WORLD THEN WE MUST FIRMLY GRASP THIS CONCEPT. WE MUST DIGEST IT AND MAKE IT A PART OF WHO WE ARE. THE CHRISTIAN RESPONSE IS TO BLESS THOSE WHO PERSECUTE US.

THE WORD BLESS COMES FROM TWO GREEK WORDS MEANING "TO SPEAK" AND "WELL." IN OTHER WORDS, IT MEANS “TO SPEAK WELL OF A PERSON.”

ONE OF THE CLOSEST WORDS WE HAVE IN ENGLISH TO TRANSLATE THESE TWO GREEK WORDS IS "EULOGIZE." SO, TO BLESS YOUR ENEMIES, IS TELLING US TO EULOGIZE THEM. WE MUST SPEAK WELL OF THEM IN ALL OCCASIONS.

THAT IS THE CHRISTIAN RESPONSE AND IT IS AN UNEXPECTED RESPONSE. IT TESTIFIES TO THE WORLD THAT WE ARE DIFFERENT AND RESPOND DIFFERENTLY.

D.L. MOODY, IN ONE OF HIS SERMONS, PORTRAYS THE LORD JESUS GIVING DIRECTION TO PETER AFTER HIS RESURRECTION ON THIS VERY CONCEPT. MOODY SAID, "GO, FIND THE MAN WHO THRUST HIS SPEAR INTO MY SIDE AND TELL HIM THERE IS A MUCH QUICKER WAY TO MY HEART. FIND THE MAN WHO CROWNED ME WITH THORNS AND TELL HIM I SHOULD LIKE TO GIVE HIM A CROWN OF LIFE."

THIS IS THE CHARACTER OF CHRIST. INDEED, HE PRACTICED WHAT HE PREACHED. ON THE CROSS, HE PRAYED FOR THOSE WHO HUNG HIM THERE. A THIEF WHO HAD ONCE CURSED HIM HAD THE GATES OF PARADISE OPENED TO HIM AS HE TURNED TO CHRIST.

EVEN AFTER HE DIED, IT WAS THIS VERY ATTITUDE JESUS DISPLAYED THAT CAUSED THE ROMAN CENTURION IN CHARGE OF THE CRUCIFIXION TO SAY, "THIS WAS THE SON OF GOD."

PAUL ENCOURAGES US TO IMMULATE THIS SAME ATTITUDE SO THAT OTHERS WILL SAY OF US, “THIS IS DEFINITELY A CHILD OF GOD.”

PAUL WROTE THIS TWELTH CHAPTER OF ROMANS BECAUSE HE WANTED CHRISTIANS TO PUT FLESH ON THE BONES OF JESUS CHRIST’S GREATEST COMMANDMENT TO LOVE ONE ANOTHER.

PAUL HAD GOOD REASON TO WRITE SUCH A LETTER. THE CHURCH IN ROME WAS SPLITTING DOWN THE MIDDLE IN TWO DIFFERENT DIRECTIONS.

INSIDE, BY CONFLICT BETWEEN JEWISH CHRISTIANS AND GENTILE CHRISTIANS. OUTSIDE, BY CONFLICT BETWEEN CHRISTIANS AND NON-CHRISTIAN ROMANS.

NEEDLESS TO SAY, THERE WERE CUTS, BRUISES, BLACK EYES, AND BAD FEELINGS ALL OVER THE PLACE. CHRISTIAN TESTIMONY WAS A MESS AT BEST.

CLAIMING THE POWER OF GOODNESS AND LOVING ONE ANOTHER, AT LEAST UNTIL SOMEONE CROSSED THEM. THEN “ALL BETS WERE OFF” AND SOON GOODNESS AND LOVE FELL PRETTY MUCH BY THE WAYSIDE BECAUSE RETALIATION PROVED TO BE NOT ONLY THEIR INTENT, BUT WHAT THEY REALLY BELIEVED.

FOR ANYONE WHO HAS BEEN ON THE RECEIVING END OF A REALLY GRIEVOUS WRONG CAN AT LEAST UNDERSTAND WHY CHRISTIANS IN ROME RESPONDED THE WAY THEY DID.

AFTER ALL ISN’T IT NATURAL TO CRY “I’VE BEEN WRONGED AND SOMEONE SHOULD PAY FOR THIS!” DOESN’T IT SEEM NORMAL TO JUSTIFY REVENGE BY SAYING “IF I DON’T DO SOMETHING SOMEBODY ELSE COULD GET HURT!”

YES, THOSE RESPONSES CAN BE RATIONALIZED AND JUSTIFIED IF YOU ARE A NOT A CHRISTIAN. BUT WE ARE CHRISTIANS AND WE HAVE BEEN CALLED TO A HIGHER STANDARD OF REACTION.

JESUS NEVER PREACHED THE MESSAGE OF FIGHTING FIRE WITH FIRE. SO, WHEN SOMEONE GETS THE BEST OF US, WE MUST FIGHT THAT HUMAN INSTINCT THAT TRIES TO TRICK US INTO BELIEVING THAT WE’LL BE ANNIHILATED (A-NILE-LATED) IF WE DON’T FIGHT BACK!

PAUL MADE HIS PLEA VERY UNDERSTANDABLE: DO NOT REPAY ANYONE EVIL FOR EVIL!” I DON’T THINK HE COULD HAVE MADE IT ANY MORE ELEMENTARY THAN THAT! WHY? BECAUSE PAUL HAD INCREDIBLE FAITH IN THE POWER OF LOVE.

PAUL UNDERSTOOD THAT THE REAL ENEMY IS NOT WHOEVER PUSHES US DOWN ON THE GROUND, BUT WHATEVER IS INSIDE OF US THAT WANTS TO GET RIGHT UP AND PUSH THE PUSHER BACK.

EVIL IS NEVER SATISFIEDWITH CONTROLLING JUST ONE SIDE OF THE SITUATION. EVIL’S GOAL IS TO INFECT BOTH SIDES AND EVERYONE INVOLVED – THE VICTIM AS WELL AS THE BULLY, THE PLAINTIFF ALONG WITH THE DEFENDANT, THE OFFENDED ALONG WITH THE OFFENDER.

WHEN EVERYONE HAS THEIR DUKES IN THE AIR THEN THE ENEMY WILL HAVE WON BECAUSE THE WHOLE POINT IS TO RECRUIT THE GOOD GUYS BY MAKING THEM BELIEVE THEY ARE STOPPING THE BAD GUYS FOR GOD’S GLORY!

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