Bless Those Who Persecute

Confession time. I am a loud mouth native New Englander with only a slight filter from brain to mouth. I speak what is on my mind and often times I put my foot in my mouth. I think I rub some people the wrong way with my “open book” way about me. God is working on me in this area. Believe it or not, I’m better than I once was but if there’s anything in life that gets me in trouble, it’s my mouth. Even though I’ve been in the south for 16 years, I am still an outspoken New Englander at my core. You can take the girl out of New England… you know how that goes.

Sadly, my openness has led some people to say ugly things about me in my absence. People that don’t know me well at all. Not only ugly, but demoralizing against my character, morals, integrity and walk with the Lord. We have all had this happen a time or two, haven’t we? The Bible tells us in James 3:8, “but no man can tame the tongue. It is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison.” I have felt the sting of that poison recently.   

Of course, my knee-jerk reaction is to be offended, outraged and hurt. I may sometimes shed a tear or two. Those types of things have way of piercing the heart. I don’t know about you, but for me, I take pride in being a person of integrity and as much as I wish I didn’t sometimes, I do care what other people think of me. Don’t we all want to be liked? I really do try to be kind, courteous and compassionate towards others. I want to live a life that honors God. I also know that I fail at this daily.

Fortunately, I had time to ponder why some people would choose to be so hateful to someone they don’t know well, for no apparent reason. I prayed about it and I put on my “big girl britches” and preached to myself the truths I know. Here’s some verses that came to my mind and brought peace to me and maybe they will for you too, if you are experiencing this type of backbiting as well.

2 Corinthians 6:18, “I will be a Father to you, And you shall be My sons and daughters, Says the Lord Almighty.”

I am a Child of God. Does it really matter what someone else thinks or says about me? The only thing that really matters is what God thinks of me. The opinion of others does not define me.

Matthew 5:39, “But I tell you not to resist an evil person. But whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also.”

This one is tough isn’t it? Jesus made it very clear. He did not say to seek revenge or harbor bitterness in your heart. He said turn the other cheek. If we, as Christians, retaliate, surely there will be someone there just waiting to accuse us and put us under a microscope. We make the whole body of believers look bad when we do that.

Matthew 7:3, “And why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye, but do not consider the plank in your own eye?”

Ah yes, this famous verse we all know well. Am I holding someone else to a higher standard than myself? Yep! We like to make sure the “rules” apply to others and not ourselves, don’t we? I am guilty of doing the very same thing that was done to me. Their sin is not greater than mine.

Romans 12:14, “Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse.”

Another tough one, but again, the message is very clear. We are not to retaliate or defend our honor. We are to bless the very people that persecute us. I don’t know how I am going to do that in this situation, but not harboring resentment or bitterness seems like a good place to start. And harboring those bad feelings doesn’t do a thing to the other person/people anyway. It only hurts me.

James 5:16b, “The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.”

I believe, during these times, when our feelings are hurt and other people may be trying to make us feel less than, well, those are the times we need to seek God in prayer. He is the only one that can heal our hearts. He is the only one that can remind us who we really are.

I cannot control what someone else thinks or what they say. I can only control myself and how I respond. My flesh wants to call them up and give them a piece of my mind. I want to defend my honor and reputation. I want to let them know they hurt me. I want to tell them they are wrong about me. I want to change their mind… But Jesus did not instruct us to handle our hurts in this way.

After praying, and speaking truth to myself, I had one of the “right song at the right moment” experiences while listening to our very own JOY FM. The song “Hey Girl” by Anne Wilson came on and I turned up the volume and shouted these lyrics:

Letting everybody and their mother try to tell you what you're worth
Oh, what you're worth
When did you forget that the one who made you told you what you're worth?
Repeat after me

I'm a blood bought, battle fought, all my shame long gone
Made new child of the King
I'm an amen, testify, holy water baptized
Went down and came up clean

I'm a soul been saved by that amazing grace
And now there ain't no way, girl, can't take that away, girl
Don't forget you're free
It's who you're made to be, hey girl

don't you know you're beautiful?
Crazy kind of wonderful, and there's no one like you
(Hey girl) you don't need to measure up
You are the treasure of the God who loves you

No more letting everybody and their mother try to tell you what you're worth
What you're worth
And if you should forget, let the one who made you tell you what you're worth
And repeat after me

Thank you Anne Wilson! Nobody else is going to tell me what my worth is and don’t let them tell you either! You and I were known by God before He formed the world! You are beautiful and precious to Him and that’s all that matters! Humans will let you down, but God never will. Seek Him first and you will never be disappointed.

We should all remember that we have the power to uplift with our words and also the power to tear people down. You can’t take the words back once they’re said; use them wisely.