bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. [romans 12:14]
in tennis there are two main areas of the court that you play from. you either stand behind the baseline, at the far end of the court ready to receive the ball from your opponent and cover tons of ground or, you position yourself up close to the net and cut down angles and use your reflexes more. both are solid strategies and necessary to win. you get into trouble when you find yourself positioned in the middle of the court. not close enough to the net to cut down angles and not far enough back to see the ball and cover the ground needed. this middle ground is often referred to as “no man’s land.” meaning, no one wants to be there. if you’re there, you’re really nowhere. you’re in-between strategies, if you will.
i think we often find ourselves in no man’s land when it comes to our approach to persecution. caught in the middle ground, meaning we really aren’t doing anything. the interesting thing about this verse to me is that it puts the believer on the offensive. “bless” is an active command here. not something you receive, it is something you do. proactively bless your persecutors.
the more common reactions to persecution are to fight back or to sit back and accept it but take no action yourself. instead, scripture commands us to take action. to respond. but not with aggression and hate. rather, we are commanded to lift up our persecutor. to show them honor. even to sacrifice in order to bless them. often times we find ourselves content with sitting back and accepting it, but not responding to it. this no man’s land strategy quite simply does nothing.
here’s the thing. to bend the knee, and proactively serve and bless those who are opposed to you is unbelievably difficult. it will be tiring, discouraging, and aggravating. you won’t be able to push yourself to do it continuously. which is why you have to turn your eyes to Jesus. not only is he the perfect example of one that gave his life for his persecutors, but he is the reason you have a hope beyond the suffering of this life. God will judge. God will also save. allow the presence of God to remind you of these things, so that you can be filled with grace, mercy, and love as you bless those who persecute you.
bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. live in harmony with one another. do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. never be wise in your own sight. repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. if possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “vengeance is mine, i will repay, says the Lord.” to the contrary, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. [romans 12:14–21]
~ keith kozlowski