Did you watch that video for even a second? Go back and do it now! How many Seinfeld fans are out there, besides me? The show about nothing that captivated audiences for years. And still does.
Jerry and his mailman nemesis, Newman, were always at odds. This video makes me laugh.
Every time Newman persecuted Jerry somehow, he’d make that fist, grit his teeth and hiss, “Newman!”
Every felt like that? I have.
Today, we’re moving along in our study on Romans 12:9-21 in the context of humility. How do we keep it humble? I hope you’re applying what we’ve studied so far to your life and seeing results! If you need to catch up, here are the links for the previous studies. Part 1,Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5
Let’s look at Romans 12:14. “Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse.” NKJV.
Here it is in the MSG. “Bless your enemies; no cursing under your breath.”
How can we bless those who persecute us? Slander, gossip, maliciousness, hurt, disappointment, abandonment, liars, cheaters, stealers. The whole lot.
Bless them? Like, for real? Maybe you say, “I’ll bless them when they apologize first. I didn’t do anything wrong!” Perhaps you didn’t. Perhaps you did.
Let’s take a look at the words in the original Greek to discover some richer meaning.
First off, we live in a time where we don’t actually bless people, except when they sneeze. The concept is tad foreign to us, but in ancient times, blessing was a serious deal. It had meaning.
The word “bless” in the Greek is eulogeō Kind of looks like eulogy doesn’t it? Some of you are thinking, I only wish my enemy was dead! It means, to praise, celebrate with praises; to invoke blessings; to consecrate a thing with solemn prayers.
Persecute might mean something different to each of us. Let’s see it in the Greek. The word is diōkō and it means, to make to run or flee, put to flight, drive away; to pursue (in a hostile manner); in any way whatever to harass, trouble; to be mistreated, suffer persecution on account of something
It comes from two root words that mean timid/fear and a word that gives the picture of running or fleeing.
Have you ever been so troubled and harassed you feel like running away? Maybe physically, but what about emotionally? Spiritually? Has someone or something gotten you so down that you’ve been driven away—from a relationship, a ministry, a dream, the church, God Himself?
Most people’s first reaction to conflict is to avoid it! To run.
But God doesn’t say to run.
He says, to pray solemnly—earnestly—in a way that sets that person/s apart as holy. “God, use them for your glory. A vessel of honor.”
Ephesians 6:12 tells us, “Our fight is not against people on earth but against the rulers and authorities and the powers of this world’s darkness, against the spiritual powers of evil in the heavenly world.”
People are the vessels he carries out his hostile take-overs with. And if you’re not paying attention, he might even prompt you to do something hateful, thereby using you! Ouch!
Should we go to God with our feelings over mistreatment, harassment? Absolutely. Can we vent to God and be honest about what we’d like to say or do with those who hurt us? Please do! But at the end of the day, if you let God administer healing, it needs to end with earnest prayers that God will bless that person and use them for his glory. That God will save them if they’re unbelievers.
Do not curse or wish bad things on them. Though we certainly can imagine most vividly them getting hit by a train, can’t we? Or we can dialogue in our head all the hurtful things we could say to lash the flesh right off of them.
God understands our hurts and anger—whether legitimate or misguided. But he doesn’t want us to sin in our anger. Trust him to handle your enemies. To fight for you. And know that sometimes persecution is allowed to sift us. To grow us. To mature us. To prepare us for a position we might not yet be able to handle otherwise.
We need humbled. And so many times, God uses people to do it. Enemies and loved ones.
I’ve been there. Some of the people I should trust most, who should care about me most, be my biggest supporters have slandered, rejected, and treated me hatefully. But I learned a lot about myself through that time. And I learned how to grow thick skin. As writer, God knows
I’m going to need it when my books are published. He gave me a taste of rejection from those who should support me most. It was a humbling experience and a little humiliating. And zero rejection I may have received since then has compared.
Expect opposition to try and put you to flight. To distract you and keep you from fulfilling your purpose and plans.
Even David was persecuted by Saul, who set him to flight for many years. And yet he says in Psalm 23. “You set a table for me in the presence of my enemies…goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life.”
No matter how fast the enemy pursues you to overtake you, God’s goodness and mercy runs faster.
Allow the humbling experience. And pray for those who hurt you. Watch God elevate you to new levels!
At the end of the day, what he thinks about you is all that matters. In the words of Big Daddy Weave, “Your name is all I’ve ever needed.”
Life Application: Start today by asking God to forgive you for any retaliation you may have done to those who have hurt you and then make a commitment to God to pray for them. For God to truly bless and enrich their lives. Do it whether you feel like it or not and see what God will do to your heart!
Prayer: Father God, we thank you that your goodness and mercy run faster than the enemy, that he will never and can never overtake us to destroy us. We may be knocked down, but we are never defeated in Christ! We honor and praise you for that. We thank you for your disciplining, even though it hurts. Humble us. Make us strong. Use us for your glory. Fill us with your presence so that we can walk worthy of our calling and fulfill every good work you have planned for us before the foundation of the world. Bless those who hurt us and mistreat us. Show them the error of their ways and illuminate them with your glory, majesty, power, and love. Whether they ever apologize or not, rule and reign in their hearts. Heal their hurts, bring healing to painful places in their lives and for those who do not know you, draw them Lord with your grace and mercy. Overtake them Lord! In Jesus’ name, Amen.
Do you have a Newman in your life? What do you plan to do about it?