When someone repeatedly mistreats us, we have a choice. We can respond our way, or we can do it God’s way.
…Bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. If someone strikes you on one cheek, turn to him the other also. If someone takes your cloak, do not stop him from taking your tunic. (Luke 6:28-29 NIV)
Who on earth would ever want to bless those who curse them? What kind of person lets someone slap them not once, but twice? Our natural inclination when wronged is to respond, “I’m done. I’ve had enough. I’m going to curse you and slap you back even harder than you slapped me!”
Only authentic children of God, led by His Spirit, can bless and turn away when they really want to curse and hit. When someone repeatedly mistreats us, we have a choice. We can do it our way, or we can do it God’s way. Often we try to fix things on our own, but we are limited. We say way too much and take things further than they ever needed to go. There is only so much we can do, and then we must surrender to our heavenly Father.
Is it easy to respond to mistreatment with blessing? Absolutely not, but our feelings cannot dictate our responses. When we surrender to God’s Word, which teaches us to love, we allow Him to get involved.
…Love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you! In that way, you will be acting as true [authentic] children of your Father in heaven. For he gives his sunlight to both the evil and the good, and He sends rain on the just and the unjust alike. (Matthew 5:44-45 NLT)
Our authenticity as children of God is tested by our reactions to our enemies. Our response to an enemy is a direct representation of our Father since we belong to Him. He is consistent in His character of goodness to both the righteous and the unrighteous.
Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you. (Ephesians 4:32 ESV)
We must learn to imitate our Father if we want to show the world His love. This means remembering that He forgave us, that He turned His cheek to those who struck out against Him, and that He blessed those who mistreated Him. He is not asking us to do anything that He has not already done Himself. If you struggle to bless those who curse you, to turn the other cheek, or to pray for your enemies, then pray:
Heavenly Father, help me to represent You in all your splendor. I want to bring glory to Your name in all the earth. I surrender my will to You so that people might know Your character and Your love through me. I pray for those who mistreat me (mention these people by name if any come to mind), and I ask that You bless them! Give me Your heart, Lord. In Jesus’ name, amen.
*Adapted from Fight Like a Girl (Faith Words, 2006).