Why should I bless those who curse me?
When we experience abuse from others, our natural response is to strike back. Pride prompts us to return hurt for hurt and insult for insult. However, God instructs us to love our enemies: “Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbor, and hate thine enemy. But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you” (Matthew 5:43-44; see also Luke 6:27-29).
When Scripture speaks of blessing those who curse us, this cursing can include insults, reproaches, and verbal offenses of all kinds. Many people struggle for weeks, months, or even years as a result of wounds caused by curses.
A Blessing Can Break the Bondage of a Curse
Although a curse always has potential to do great evil, a blessing has potential to accomplish greater good.
Once a young woman was deeply offended when her supervisor criticized and belittled her. She could not forget her supervisor’s stinging words, and she became increasingly bitter and angry as time passed. She testified, “I carried that hurt to college, and without knowing it I was in bondage to a curse. . . . I started struggling in school and failed three exams in a row. I had never had problems with school before. I then became consumed with my studies so I would not fail any more exams.
“I lost my focus so that God was not number one in my life. I had sacrificed my relationships with people and ultimately my time with the Lord by working on projects and my studies. . . . One day when I was on summer break, the Lord really spoke to me. I realized that I could not honestly say that I loved the Lord with all of my heart, soul, mind, and strength.”
At about the same time, this student heard a message about the value of blessing those who curse us. She later testified, “I went into my room and closed the door . . . I cried out to God to bless me, and I asked Him to bless my former supervisor and his family. Instantly I felt as if chains had been lifted off of me. I felt an incredible freedom that I had not experienced before. . . . The joy that I now feel is overwhelming. . . .”
Bless Those Who Revile You
One of the Biblical terms for someone who speaks abusive words is reviler. Reviling comes from a heart of scorn and contempt and is a means of verbally attacking a person as an expression of anger and hatred. A reviler intends to vilify, to defame, to bring shame, to discredit, or to attribute evil motives to another.
Ridicule is one aspect of reviling. To ridicule is to hold up a person or his ideas to laughter—to sneer, scoff, and belittle a person. Giving someone an insulting or demeaning label is a common method of ridicule. Reviling is a form of railing upon a person.
God’s Word condemns reviling. The Apostle Paul instructed the Corinthian believers not to keep company with a believer who was a reviler (see I Corinthians 5:11), and he also said that revilers are among those who will not inherit the kingdom of God (see I Corinthians 6:9-10).
Jesus was reviled. Immediately prior to His crucifixion, Roman soldiers not only scourged Him; they mocked and belittled Him as well. (See Matthew 27:26-31.) While Christ was on the cross, “they that passed by reviled him, wagging their heads, and saying, Thou that destroyest the temple, and buildest it in three days, save thyself. If thou be the Son of God, come down from the cross.
“Likewise also the chief priests mocking him, with the scribes and elders, said, He saved others; himself he cannot save. If he be the King of Israel, let him now come down from the cross, and we will believe him. He trusted in God; let him deliver him now, if he will have him: for he said, I am the Son of God. The thieves also, which were crucified with him, cast the same in his teeth” (Matthew 27:39-44). Yet, even while He was suffering the horrors of crucifixion, Jesus blessed His persecutors, saying, “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34).
Follow the Lord’s Example
Jesus set the example that we are to follow, returning blessing for cursing and committing Himself into His heavenly Father’s care. (See I Peter 2:21.) “When he [Jesus] was reviled, [he] reviled not again; when he suffered, he threatened not; but committed himself to him that judgeth righteously: who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness . . .” (I Peter 2:23).
If we bless those who hurt us, God will take full responsibility for whatever punishment should be administered to offenders. It is our responsibility to overcome evil with good, and speaking words of blessing is one way to do that.
The Apostle Peter specifically addresses the need to bless those who revile us: “. . . [Do not render] evil for evil, or railing for railing: but contrariwise blessing; knowing that ye are thereunto called, that ye should inherit a blessing. For he that will love life, and see good days, let him refrain his tongue from evil, and his lips that they speak no guile . . . . The face of the Lord is against them that do evil” (I Peter 3: 9-12).
The Apostle Paul gave this instruction to the believers in Rome: “Bless them which persecute you; bless, and curse not . . . Recompense no man evil for evil. . . . Avenge not yourselves . . . Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord. Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink . . . . Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good” (Romans 12:14, 17, 19-21).
Receive the Rewards of Blessing a Reviler
Freedom from an emotional, often vengeful, reaction and genuine love for an offender are the immediate rewards of blessing a reviler. When a person is reviled, the resulting anguish can easily develop into emotional grief and bitterness. However, if by faith that person chooses to bless his offender, rather than curse him, evil will effectively be overcome with good.
Resolve Long-Term Bitterness
Many people have testified to overcoming years of bitterness that began when they were cursed or abused during childhood. As these abused individuals blessed their offenders, often their bitterness disappeared immediately.
But how are you to deal with bitterness toward someone on whom you no longer have the opportunity to bestow a blessing, such as someone who has died since the offense occurred?
- Put your faith in God and His love for both you and the offender.
- Thank God for His power to redeem those hurtful circumstances and memories.
- Ask Him to give you wisdom and grace to forgive and release your offender from your bitterness and condemnation, even though the person may be dead already. You are still living, and you can still make choices that bring freedom and blessing to your life as you choose to forgive and bless instead of be bitter and curse. (See James 1:5, John 16:23, II Peter 1:2, Hebrews 4:16, and James 4:6.)
Love Your Enemies, Because That Is God’s Will
Apart from God’s marvelous grace, you will be unable to bless those who curse you, but with God, nothing is impossible. Jesus said, “As ye would that men should do to you, do ye also to them likewise. For if ye love them which love you, what thank have ye? for sinners also love those that love them. And if ye do good to them which do good to you, what thank have ye? for sinners also do even the same. . . . But love ye your enemies, and do good . . . and your reward shall be great, and ye shall be the children of the Highest: for he is kind unto the unthankful and to the evil. Be ye therefore merciful, as your Father also is merciful” (Luke 6:31-36).
This article is adapted from The Power of Spoken Blessings.