"Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse" (Romans 12:14)
It is interesting that Paul reminds us to bless those who persecute us. This is completely opposite of what our our human response tends to be in such circumstances. A normal reaction would be striking back to defend ourselves. But Paul warns us not to curse but bless instead. The Bible gives us good reason to have this perspective and knowing these truths will protect your heart from the persecution that will come your way.
First of all when we are slandered or persecuted it is because we bear the name of Christ. Peter wrote to the church, "Dear friends, do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice that you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed. If you are insulted because of the name of Christ, you are blessed, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you" ( I Peter 4:12-14 ). Persecution is a sign that you are born again. Jesus told us that we would have trouble in this world ( John 16:33 ) and that people would hate us just as the world hated him ( John 15:18 ). But in all of these things we are to rejoice because we bear the name of Christ and the glory of God is evident in our lives. Peter went on to say, "However, if you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed, but praise God that you bear that name" ( I Peter 4:17 ).
Secondly, when we are persecuted we must remind ourselves of the true reason behind it. Jesus told the disciples in the parable of the sower of the seed that persecution comes because of the word ( Matthew 13:21, Luke 8:13, Mark 4:17 ). The word of God is so powerful that planting it in the soil of our heart will forever change our lives and yield much fruit. If the devil can stomp out the word of God by stealing it before it gets planted or by persecution, he will render us ineffective for the kingdom of God. This is why when persecution comes it is important to remember that it is because of Christ and His word, not us, so we can move past it and keep an eternal perspective protecting our heart and the word planted at the same time.
Lastly, it is important to remember when persecuted that we are called to be a blessing. This is why we bless and not curse. Jesus spoke extensively about this. He was always reminding the disciples to serve one another, to consider each other more highly than themselves, to turn the other cheek when wronged. These actions were evidence of the new birth and nature. In the same way to curse those who persecute us would be to go against the nature of God living inside us. Isaiah 53 told us that Jesus did not curse or defend himself when standing accused before Pilate, "as a sheep before her shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth" ( Isaiah 53:7 ). Jesus could have annihilated every one of his accusers by speaking and defending himself, yet he remained silent on our behalf. Isaiah went on to say, "nor was any deceit in his mouth" ( Isaiah 53:9b ). He did not curse those who brought such agony on him but remained silent so that He could fulfill the purpose for which he came. He became a curse for us so that we could receive blessing ( Galatians 3:13-14 ). Following His example we are to bless those who persecute us. Remember; it is on the account of Christ.
Today, I pray that this truth penetrates your heart and gives you a new outlook on persecution. Keeping this perspective in mind will get you through any trouble that comes your way on the account of Christ and His word. Blessed are you because you bear His name.