Paul now addresses the Christian’s response to persecution. “Bless those who persecute you. Don’t curse them; pray that God will bless them.” Romans 12:14 NLT
Persecution, in one form or another, has been the lot of Jesus’ followers ever since Jesus Himself walked this earth. And the response God is looking for from us remains the same– blessing our persecutors. When Paul’s letter went out, Christians faced a double persecution; they were hated by the Jews as religious heretics, and they were hated by the ruling Romans, viewed as a political threat because they refused to worship the emperor as divine. And the Romans could not understand a people who had no fear of death, and yet had such an impact of compassion on those around them. In fact, a Roman governor once sent a report to Rome; “A curse on these Christians; they take care of not only their own poor, but ours as well.”
In short, persecution had the full backing of not only the religious establishment, but also the government as well. A common human reaction would be to cry out to God for vengeance on these haters; cursing the persecutors would be perfectly understandable and normal.
But God tells His followers to bless, only bless, and never curse.
And what of us, now? Persecution of Christians, of course, is thriving in the world today in Muslim countries and in places such as North Korea. We in the West live comparatively sheltered lives. Yet God can use this instruction to speak even to us.
Have you been mocked and humiliated because of your faith? Denied a promotion or faced punishment for refusing to act in opposition to God’s commands? Then, God says, bless those who hurt and humiliated you. Because they deserve a blessing? No, of course not! Because Jesus is giving you a chance to be like Himself. He came to bring mankind the biggest blessing in eternity, yet He was rejected and hated by those who claimed to be following God, and put to death by a government who feared insurrection. Through it all, His actions were blessings; His prayer to His Father was for forgiveness for those who crucified Him.