“Bless those who persecute you.”
(Persecute – to harass or punish in a manner designed to injure; to cause suffering because of belief).
“I’m turning the TV down
Drowning their voices out,
Cause I believe that you and me
Can find some common ground,
See maybe I’m not like you
But I’ll walk a mile in your shoes,
If it means I might see
The world the way you do.”
(Revolutionary, Josh Wilson – a song about our current culture. Video is below).
Having mercy on others is right at the heart of what Jesus taught: “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.” (Matt 5:44)
To have mercy on your enemies is to imitate your Father in heaven – “that you may be children of your Father in heaven” (Matt 5:45a). God’s mercy extends to those who are hostile towards him: “He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous” (Matt 5:45b).
To have mercy like this marks you out from the world: “If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that?” (Matt 5:46). We tend only to love people who are like us, or whom we like. But you are called to be different. Love your enemies. Show them the fruits of the spirit (Galatians 5:23). Pray for those who persecute you.
How can we receive God’s mercy ourselves and then show no mercy to others?
“Let’s take some time, open our eyes, look and listen,
We’re gonna find we’re more alike than we are different.
Why does kindness seem revolutionary?
When did we let hate get so ordinary?
Let’s turn it around, flip the script,
Judge slow, love quick…”
We do not earn forgiveness by forgiving others, but Jesus says that our forgiveness of others is essential to receiving forgiveness from God. “You can’t get forgiveness from God, for instance, without also forgiving others. If you refuse to do your part, you cut yourself off from God’s part” (Matt 6:14–15).
Do it every day – receive mercy and forgiveness. Have mercy and forgive others.
Jesus explains the importance of prayer. He tells you to “pray for those who persecute you” (Matt 5:44). Praying for your enemies helps you to see them as God sees them!
The theme of mercy is also at the heart of the Lord’s Prayer: “Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors” (Matt 6:12).
When we pray, Jesus teaches us in Matthew 6 to:
Keep it quiet
“When you pray, go away by yourself, shut the door behind you and pray to your Father in private.” (v.6)
Keep it honest
“Then your Father, who sees everything, will reward you.” (v.6b)
Keep it simple
“Pray like this: Our Father in heaven, may your name be kept holy.” (v.9a)
In what way can you bless those who persecute you?