Unlimited: Bless Those Who Persecute You
Aug 7, 2023 215
Bless those who persecute you (Romans 12:14a.)
Here the apostle Paul echoes the words of the Lord Jesus, when he taught the Sermon on the Mount:
love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you (Matthew 5:44).
This makes us wonder how many of Paul’s other instructions in this list also echo the remembered teachings of Jesus, which may not have been written in the gospels themselves. They certainly reflect the tenor of Christ’s words and life.
It is fascinating that in Acts 20:35, Paul quotes the words of Jesus, “It is more blessed to give than to receive”, which are not mentioned anywhere in the gospels. It is evident that the words of Jesus resonated loudly through earliest Christianity and in the mind of the apostle Paul, even when they didn’t make it into the gospels themselves.
Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you
In Christ’s command for us to love our enemies we find, on the one hand, the most difficult command for the carnal nature to accept, yet on the other hand, the virtue that most directly points us to the perfection of God himself. That’s why, having told us to pray for those who persecute us, Christ ended this section of the Sermon on the Mount with the words,
Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect (Matt. 5:43–48.)
You may not experience persecution in the physical sense, but we will all have those to hate and despise us, and who mistreat or belittle us. How much do you love that person in real and practical ways? How often do you pray for them, and not against them?