Bless those who persecute you

William Tyndale, whose last words were, "Lord, open the King of England's eyes."
William Tyndale, whose last words were, "Lord, open the King of England's eyes."

Bless them which persecute you: bless, and curse not. Romans 12:14

Christians are to be not only "wise as serpents" but also “harmless as doves” (Mt. 10:16). We are required not only to love those who love us (which is easy) but also to love those who hate us (which is really difficult). It is what our Lord was getting at when he said, “But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be the sons of your Father who is in heaven” (Mt. 5:45).

This sheds some light on how we should look at the imprecatory Psalms. When our Lord came to earth on his redemptive mission, he said that he had not come to condemn but to save (Jn. 3:17). But there is coming a time when the impenitent will be condemned at the Final Judgment by the Savior. If you will not have him as Savior now, you must have him as your condemning Judge later. As Matthew Henry put it, those who will not come to Christ to be saved must depart from him to be damned. In the same way, we are not now to curse those who persecute us (imprecation is a spoken curse). But there is coming a day when we will judge the world (cf. 1 Cor. 6:2) and in that day the imprecatory Psalms will be justly on the lips of all of God’s people. But at the present time, we are not only not to curse our enemies, but we are also to bless them. Our words are to be words of gospel hope for today is the day of salvation.

This is important because this is often the very time when our witness is most effective. It is no coincidence that “martyr” comes from the Greek word for witness. Our Lord said that it is precisely when “they will lay their hands on you and persecute you” and deliver “you up to the synagogues and prisons” that “this will be your opportunity for witness” (Lk. 21:12-13). Church history bears witness to this fact. It is our blessing for their curse that often precedes their reception of the gospel.

By: Jeremiah Bass