Bless those who curse you. Pray for those who hurt you.Luke 6:28
Our words are important, and in this day of instant and voluminous communication, there are numberless words spent daily in the vast sea of our digital culture. Not all of that communication is helpful, and much of it is downright hurtful. However, as believers, our words should be a blessing to others.
The definition of the word that we translate as blessing means to “speak well of,” to “praise” or to “wish for the prosperity of.” It is the same word that we get our English word eulogy: an example of speaking well of someone who has recently died, or delivering a benediction of well-wishing upon a person or group of people. To bless others is to speak well of them and wish them prosperity and wholeness.
This seems simple and natural among friends and family, but we are commanded by Yeshua to have this same level of concern and care for those outside of our common circle, and in fact, with those who would seek to do us harm. In the verse above, he commands us to bless those who curse us, and to pray for those who would seek to hurt us.
This is a root sentiment among the early believers, as well:
Romans 12:14 – Bless those who persecute you. Don’t curse them; pray that God will bless them.
1 Peter 3:9 – Don’t repay evil for evil. Don’t retaliate with insults when people insult you. Instead, pay them back with a blessing. That is what God has called you to do, and he will bless you for it.
I find it interesting that Peter attaches a reward to this practice: God will bless you for it. To bless others is to receive a blessing from God in return. If we feel that we are outside of God’s blessing at times, perhaps it is because this required practice is lacking in our lives.
The real challenge is in not only speaking well of our adversaries, but truly meaning it from the heart. This requires a type of ongoing forgiveness for the wrongs that others may commit against us. And yet, for our blessing of others to be genuine it has to come from the heart.
Certainly, this is not a natural inclination, but, as believers, we are not just natural beings.
The apostle Paul speaks of it this way:
Therefore, if anyone [is] in Messiah, [he is] a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.2 Corinthians 5:17
Yeshua instructs us that we are not to call someone a fool or an idiot or be unrighteously angry with anyone, and that the words we speak always come from the overflow of the heart. If what is in your heart is bitterness and unforgiveness, then that is what will come out of your mouth. However, if what is in your heart is real love and forgiveness as part of God’s new creation, then what comes out of your mouth will be genuine blessing for others.
Keep your heart with all diligence, for out of it is the wellspring of life.Proverbs 4:23
Following in the footsteps of Solomon’s wisdom in Proverbs, the apostle James illustrates it in this fashion:
But no man can tame the tongue. It is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison. With it we bless our God and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in the similitude of God. Out of the same mouth proceed blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not to be so. Does a spring send forth fresh water and bitter from the same opening? Can a fig tree, my brethren, bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs? Thus no spring yields both salt water and fresh.James 3:8-12
When it boiled down to essentials, the issue is really not our tongue, but the spring of our heart. If the spring is fresh water, then the tongue will yield fresh water for others. If, in obedience to Yeshua, we are to truly bless those who work against us at all times, then we need to ensure that rooted in the depths of our heart is an ongoing measure of real forgiveness. Then no wrongs can be too harsh, no hurt can be too severe. Blessing and prayer for all others will become the living water flowing from our hearts.