“Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.”
I received a phone message that caught me by surprise. It was a blistering, angry, cursing message that burned my ears and bruised my heart. Hell would be too good for me, the voice said.
I had been asked to conduct the funeral of a man I didn’t know. In a meeting with the family, I learned things that were helpful to know as I prepared for the funeral service. But what I said in that service had angered the man’s son. So he had called and left that message. With a tongue loosened by liquor, he let me know just how angry he was.
How should I respond? As I absorbed his anger, I prayed for grace and wisdom. I sent him a letter in which I acknowledged that it was my task to communicate clearly, but that I must have said something that caused him offense. I offered to meet him at his convenience.
I never heard from him again. But I thought of him often with pained heaviness. Every time I felt upset or troubled by this matter, I heard Jesus’ words in our text for today: respond with love, bless those who curse you, pray for them. With hurting but loving concern, I placed this situation in the hands of our gracious and loving God. The peace I feel as a result, though not untroubled, is real. Thank you, Jesus.
Thank you, Lord, for your gracious ways in our lives. Give us the grace to pray for people who curse us, and to love those who hate. In Jesus, Amen.