Aug. 4, 2020

Bless And Be A Blessing

Luke 6:28. “Bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.” Some translations use revile in place of mistreat. The synonyms for revile take in a broad spectrum of attitudes, speech, and behavior. Here are a few: abhor, abominate, detest, hate, loathe, anathematize, censure, condemn, damn, decry, denounce, attack, blame, criticize, fault, slam, belittle ... the list goes on! 

Jesus says we are to bless such as mistreat us in these ways. Did He not do so? Certainly in the churches today, evidence points to the fact that more is thought of avenging ourselves than of following Christ Jesus. There is more of the spirit of the world driving attitudes and behaviors than the Spirit of Christ.

1 Peter 3:8,9 brings us back to the idea of blessing those who mistreat us and the reason for it: “... let all be harmonious, sympathetic, brotherly, kindhearted, and humble in spirit, not returning evil for evil, or insult for insult, but giving a blessing instead; for you were called for the very purpose that you might inherit a blessing.

This brings on some real conviction by the Holy Spirit! Not condemnation but deep conviction that some changes are needed.

Might it just be possible that we are not enjoying some of the blessings that we would like to see in our life because we have not been the blessing - in the power of the Holy Spirit - that Christ calls us to be, the way Christ calls us to be? He poses a serious question, “Why do you call Me Lord, but you don’t really do what I say?” (Luke 6:46) Such questions are hard, challenging, even confrontational, in the face of popular "easy grace” perspectives.

If we are called to bless, so that we may receive blessings in our life, as the chief Apostle points out, perhaps we have not planted the seeds of that harvest of blessing! Without planting the seeds there can be no harvest! It is a fairly simple matter, but perhaps gravely overlooked. We pray and pray for something, but fail to see that it is our own failure to think, speak, and be the seed of blessing that stands in the way! Yet the best blessing to desire is not of this world, but rather to eschew all such things to become more like Jesus! The Holy Spirit alone can awaken this desire. And so we should continue to ask, seek, and knock for the Holy Spirit, for the unregenerate, self serving will is certainly not going to make such a request. Another subject for another day…)

How can we expect to be blessed if we do not bless? To bless is to plant the seeds of blessing. There can be no harvest without sowing and tending the crop! Not once, but as the ever developing Spirit driven habit of life.

The Lord has opened the windows of heaven and poured out infinite blessing upon blessing. The thief comes only to rob, kill, and destroy - chiefly by way of lies and deception. Christ, however, has shown us that to make disciples means teaching disciples to observe all that He commanded and revealed through His apostles. This includes that we are to bless and be a blessing - in thought, word, and deed. Might that include body language and demeanor? Attitude?

We’re called to be a reflection of His holy image and likeness. For the gospel message is not taught by words alone. It is revealed, and evidenced, by vessels filled with the Holy Spirit of Blessing!

If anyone wants to talk about “ascetic” practice, let’s begin with this one, a denial of the self that wants to condemn and criticize by instead putting forth Christ love. It is divine grace as He would extend it toward those we have difficulty with. Not so much those we get along with, or if we think someone deserves a blessing. God’s kind of love is not deserved or earned. It must be extended - by His living Body (what “church” really is) to those, poured out upon, who need its healing intervention. It is when we bless this way that God’s love can be made real to those who need to see Him in His true temples!

Here perhaps is the wicked way from which we must repent, according to 2 Chronicles 7:14, for the healing of our land as He promises. We may be good at pointing out the “big” sins of others and not ourselves participating in them (for example abortion and homosexuality and other perversions), but might we be abysmal failures at blessing and not cursing those with whom we don’t agree or even regard with disdain? Can we consider that and also begin to pray for our enemies as a way to bless? We may find that in so doing our own attitude changes, and we begin to see them in a different light - as those also for whom Christ died. It becomes hard to hate anyone as we pray for them.

So much dark reaction to so many things does not reflect the grace of our Lord. May we in the power of the Holy Spirit repent from the wicked way of cursing rather than blessing! Let it be so for the sake of the shed blood of the One we call, “Lord! Lord!” Our response needs to be His, proactive in every way rather than reactive.