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Bless and Do Not Curse (1)

Charlie Wingard

Charlie Wingard

Associate Professor of Practical Theology at Reformed Theological Seminary Jackson and Senior Pastor of First Presbyterian Church, Yazoo City, Mississippi

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

Love is the preeminent Christian virtue. Justice, self-control, courage, and wisdom may mark our lives, but without love we are nothing (1 Corinthians 13:2).

Our obligation to love is all encompassing. We Christians must love our brothers and sisters in Christ. With all of our family sins and failures and shortcomings, that looms a monumental challenge, and without God’s help, proves insurmountable. But loving our dear Christian brothers and sisters is only the starting line. To finish our lives well our enemies too must be loved and prayed for, and for them, God’s blessings sought. It’s at this point that character faces its severest test.

“Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them” (Romans 12:14). No qualifications, no escape clauses.  The command’s very clarity troubles us. As one writer puts it, it is “one of the most revolutionary statements in the [New Testament] and can be carried out only by the power of the Holy Spirit.” [1] Another writer asserts: “No practical exhortation places greater demands upon our spirits than to ‘bless them that persecute us.”[2]

Persecution covers the spectrum: from a cold shoulder to harsh words, to mistreatment, to injustice, from confiscation of property to imprisonment, to death. Regardless of the situation, we are to bless our enemies. We are to bless and not curse the ex-spouse who has abandoned the marriage covenant and wrecked a home. We are to bless and not curse the business partner whose carelessness has wreaked financial havoc. Biting and hurtful words from the gossip do their damage, but our response must be blessing and not cursing. Not only must retaliation go, but so also the vindictive thoughts that provoke every harmful act.[3] Nor can we vacillate, sometimes blessing and sometimes cursing. The command stands unqualified: “bless and do not curse.”

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[1] Thomas R. Schreiner, Romans (Baker: 1998), 667.

[2] John Murray, Romans (Eerdmans, 1968), II:134.

[3] Murray, II: 134.


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