January 22, 2023 | Doug Sauder
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“Do not repay anyone 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. Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: ‘It is mine to avenge; I will repay,’ says the Lord. On the contrary: ‘If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.’ Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”—Romans 12:17–21 (NIV)
As we talked about in Friday’s devo, forgiveness is essential to healing. But what if you went above and beyond forgiveness? What if you went as far as to bless your enemy? That seems like a wild concept—even as someone like me who’s been a Christian my entire life. It just doesn’t come naturally to me. I love justice. Nothing makes me happier than when I’m watching a documentary about someone who broke the law or hurt someone to get what was coming to them. But, while this does make for satisfying entertainment, it’s not fruitful for our real-life relationships.
In this passage, Paul instructs us to turn the other cheek and reminds us that God has called us to love our enemies. What could it look like to bless them instead in a world that tells us to cut off toxic people? This by no means indicates you have to allow them into your life or even let them know you’re blessing them. It could be as simple as praying for them in your time with God.
Early on in my marriage, there was a situation where I felt I was owed an apology from someone, and I let that rot my overall view of them every day. My husband reminded me of this passage and challenged me to pray for them every day. After several days of this and swallowing my pride, I did start praying for them. And you know what happened? I no longer felt entitled to the apology, and my heart was set free from the burden of carrying that. It allowed space in my heart to care for their needs, and God opened up opportunities for me to be a listening ear, a shoulder to cry on, and a support system later on. Over time, through a lot of persistence and grace, that relationship was fortified, and this person no longer was my enemy. They didn’t need my justice; they needed my compassion.
As cringy as it is, that old saying, “Let go and let God,” is often relevant in complicated relationships. Even if our enemies never become our friends and they continue their behavior towards us, it’s our job to make sure we’re doing everything in our power to live at peace with them—and on occasion, bless them.
When was the last time you complained about someone you didn’t like? I think for me, it was probably this morning. Can you imagine the difference it would make in your life and theirs if you turned that complaint into a prayer for them? One of Jesus’ last words as He was dying on the cross was, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing” (Luke 23:34 NIV). So, take the time to pray for that person (or people) today and ask for God to bless them.
Pause: Who in my life can I pray for and how can I bless them?
Practice: Take some time in these moments to ask God to soften your heart towards this person or situation. This is an ongoing posture of humility; ask for strength!
Pray: Father, I ask that You will give me the power to bless those who have wronged me. I pray You will give me the guidance to live at peace with those who I consider my enemies. Please always provide a path of grace and compassion. Amen.
Kristen Hollis has served in the Communications Team of Calvary since 2020 as a Senior Copywriter and Editor. She contributes and edits content for Calvary’s digital and promotional initiatives. She has a Bachelor of Arts in English and Communications from Palm Beach Atlantic University. Kristen and her husband Zachary enjoy all things musical theatre, vinyl hunting, and having the opportunity to serve Calvary on staff while utilizing their talents.