Chapter # 6 Paragraph # 5 Study # 13
Thesis: Bless those who curse you.
Introduction: The last time we spent our time together looking into Luke's picture of Jesus, we considered Jesus' exhortation to "Do good to those who hate you." We saw that this was simply an explanation of what He meant when He said "Love your enemies". Those who hate you are your enemies and doing good to them is an expression of love. In that study we argued that "Love" is such a huge issue (the Bible says, the infinite God "is love") that it needs a lot of explaining for people to understand what it looks like in real life. Mankind has a massive problem with this concept and often finds itself demanding of "a loving God" what is not "love" at all. So, it is a truth that needs a lot of explanation.
We also saw in that study that the most basic problem in understanding "love" is how, with knee-jerk precision and false certainty, people claim to "love" when all the while they are focused only upon themselves and their own benefit. It is fundamentally impossible for anyone who is characteristically a black hole to understand the sun. So it is with "love": no one understands love as long as they are still trying to work things so that their lives will be what they want them to be. The only people who understand love are those who do it. These are not they who claim to love; these are they who actively ignore the losses to themselves that the needs of others require.
This morning we are going to go a step further into Jesus' insistence that the Kingdom of God is marked by the selflessness that the Bible calls "Love". We are going to look at what He says about how to respond to people who "curse" us. He says "Bless them", whatever that means.
It is our intention this morning to look into that "whatever". What does it mean to "bless those who curse you"?
January 6, 2008
- I. A Look at "Cursing" and "Blessing" in the Bible.
- A. What does it mean to be "cursed"?
- 1. Matthew 25:41 gives us a strong illustration.
- a. In the final sense, being "cursed" means ending up in the "everlasting fire" that makes participation in "Life" an absolute impossibility.
- b. In the intermediate sense, being "cursed" means being in a position so that the one doing the "cursing" is hoping the one they are "cursing" will be destroyed.
- 2. Mark 11:21 gives us more illumination.
- a. Peter called what Jesus said to the fig tree a "curse".
- b. What Jesus said to the fig tree was this: "No man eat fruit from thee henceforward for ever."
- c. What Jesus did was to declare that the fig tree was, from that moment, never again to function according to its creation-intention.
- 3. The summary point is this: to be "cursed" is to be subjected to the expression of another's hope that you will be utterly denied any form of "Life", but particularly that form which arises from being able to accomplish something of real eternal value.
- a. The major issue here is this: there is a status that arises out of being able to accomplish.
- b. To be cursed is to be relegated to that sphere in which one cannot accomplish anything of value (at least by means of words and at most by means of a sufficient power to actually impose that position upon one).
- B. What does it mean to "bless" someone?
- 1. Luke 1:28 gives us a strong hint: it means to declare that someone is of a kind of status that means they will be the instrument of enormous, eternal, benefit to others.
- 2. Luke 1:42 reinforces this concept.
- 3. Luke 9:16 adds an element: the "blessing" of the five loaves and two fish was an act of making them into elements of enormous, eternal, benefit -- not because of the provision of physical food but because of the impact of the miraculous upon those observing.
- 4. The summary point is this: to "bless" is to verbally respond to the recognition that the "blessed" has accomplished, or will accomplish, some enormously significant eternal benefit.
- II. A Look at "Blessing" and "Cursing" in This Context.
- A. According to 6:22-23 a person is "blessed" when he/she is "cursed".
- 1. This is not, according to 6:22, always so.
- a. This verse insists that the cause for the cursing is one's commitment to the Son of Man.
- b. No one is blessed by being cursed for one's own wickedness.
- 2. This is, according to 6:23, a matter of enormous, eternal, benefit.
- a. According to this verse, one is to rejoice and leap for joy in the day of cursing.
- b. The result of being cursed is "great reward in heaven".
- B. According to 6:26 a person is "cursed" when he/she is "blessed" by all men.
- 1. This means that a person is denied eternal impact upon others when he/she buys into the definitions of "benefit" assigned by the ungodly.
- 2. This denial is one that comes from God in this context.
- III. A Look at Reality in "Blessing" Those Who "Curse" Us.
- A. We are not to be hypocritical -- saying words we do not mean.
- B. We are to be loving -- genuinely seeking to steer others into the Life of God.
- C. But we are also to be believing.
- 1. It is because we believe what Jesus said in 6:22-23 that we can honestly express our recognition that the one who has cursed us has done us an enormous favor because of the character of our "blessing God".
- 2. If we honestly believe that the one who has cursed us has made it possible for us to inherit "great reward", how can we not respond to a curse with blessing?
- a. The plain fact is this: there is no reward where there has been no sacrificial love (1 Corinthians 13).
- b. Those who hate us make opportunity for us to "sacrifice" -- note 6:32.
- c. The recognition that reward springs out of sacrifice alters the words that come as a consequence of being subjected to that which required the sacrifice.
- 3. Those who respond to cursing with cursing are only proving that they deserve the cursing because of their unbelief.