If you want a question answered, just post it on facebook! Yesterday I may have hit a nerve when I asked, “What is the best response toward someone who continually seems to enjoy making your life miserable?” I loved the diversity of answers and answerers. Responses came from former students, past coworkers, church buddies, and friends – all even better friends now. 🙂 Thanks for your heartfelt, Christ-like answers.
I’d be lying if I said I didn’t struggle with that question. I think we all do at one time or another. I’m sure you have had times when you thought of just the right thing to say or do only after the opportunity had passed. Or maybe you said something you wished you could have taken back as soon as the words left your mouth. Maybe that’s why I like to write – it gives me the chance to think about what I’m saying before I say it. (I’ve already deleted an entire paragraph from this post!)
I went back to Romans 12 for some help with this and one verse just kept jumping out at me. “Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse.” When I put a face on my persecutors and read that verse again it became very painful. “Bless?” I asked God. “I can handle the “do not curse” part, but bless? Surely not, God!”
But then just like a good Father, he sat me down and reminded me of one of my favorite Elisha stories. It’s in 2 Kings 6. The king of Aram was at war with the king of Israel and had set an ambush for the Israeli army. Elisha, God’s prophet, warned Israel’s king about the ambush so they could avoid it. This happened time after time. Aram’s king finally had enough and wanted to know who was leaking information to the other side. One of his men informed him it wasn’t a spy, it was the prophet Elisha. Elisha had even told the king of Israel what his enemy whispered in his own bedroom! (Now, that’ll get your attention.)
When Elisha and the Israeli army woke the next morning a servant went out and found they were surrounded by Aram’s horses and chariots. He cried out to Elisha, “Oh, master! What shall we do?”
This is the first best part! Elisha prayed, “Open his eyes, Lord, so that he may see.” The Lord opened the servant’s eyes, and he looked and saw the hills full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha. As the enemy came down toward him, Elisha prayed to the Lord. “Strike this army with blindness.” So he struck them with blindness, as Elisha had asked.
Okay, now, don’t focus on the blinding the enemy part. Watch what comes next.
Elisha led them right into the heart of Israel and then prayed for their eyes to be opened. Can you imagine how they must have felt to be staring face to face with the king of Israel when their eyes were opened?
Here’s the second best part. The king of Israel asked Elisha if he should kill them all. Elisha said, “No! Set food and water before them so that they may eat and drink and then go back to their master.”
What?! Elisha blessed them? Yes, he blessed them with grace on top of grace. As a result, the bands from Aram stopped raiding Israel’s territory.
Lord, help us all learn to follow Elisha’s example and pray for our enemies. Help us see the grace you’ve given us so we may generously give it to others. Open our eyes to your power that is always with us. Give us the courage to sit at the same table with those who wish us harm so that our eyes can be opened to the hurt causing them to hurt us. May we patiently wait for an opportunity to lead them to Jesus. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus so others will want to follow along.
“Do not repay evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.”
Romans 12:17-18, NIV