The Inner Strength of the Christian.
Ro Bless them which persecute you: bless, and curse not.
The nature of man, is love those who love you, bless those who bless you, hate those who hate you and curse those who curse you. If someone teach you to practice these qualities, you may ask I do not have to discipline my self to practice these as it is in me. The people in the world are always practicing these principals and we see it daily and openly. But the Christian does not belong to this world, and we do not conform to the world.
Ro 12:2 And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God. Only a transformed man a regenerated man can obey this principal, to bless those who curse you. So the Christian is living in the midst of a hostile world, he is opposed to the worldy living. Jesus was in the world but the world hated him. As he said, If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you." (" Joh 15:18) Then he said, "If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you." (Joh 15:19)
If you can remember the Lord said, " Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, 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; (Mt 5:43-44)
There is a great temptation to hate your enemy, curse him and to get angry with him. But we need to resist daily this temptation to hate our enemies, or else we cannot be a child of God "Out of the same mouth proceedeth blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not so to be." (. Jas 3:10 ) Our immediate reaction when someone is opposed to us or our opinion is to take revenge. Then when our enemy is injured of something we rejoice in our hearts, saying "good for him, he deserves it." But God here not only tells us to bless those who persecute us, then he goes on to say, do not curse them. He subdues of bitter feelings against the enemy.
We need to remember the persecution that you encountered is opposition to the Lord. Do not be impulsive and aggressive against your enemy. Your enemy is lost, he is at enmity with God, he is being manipulated by Satan. That is why we need to have a sympathy towards our enemies. As the book of Ephesians Chapter 6, says that our warfare is not against the flesh and blood but against Satan and his demons. You have a weapon, where no one has, that weapon is not a gun but the love of God, which can pierce the heart of your enemy, this love will either will convict him of his sins or hate you more.
Read the old Testament and the new Testament and see what the world did to the messengers of God, did they love them? No. Look at Chronicles II 36:16 "But they mocked the messengers of God, and despised his words, and misused his prophets, until the wrath of the LORD arose against his people, till there was no remedy."
1Co 4:12 And labour, working with our own hands: being reviled, we bless; being persecuted, we suffer it:
13 Being defamed, we intreat: we are made as the filth of the world, and are the offscouring of all things unto this day.
1Pe 2:21 For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps:
22 Who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth:
23 Who, when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered, he threatened not; but committed himself to him that judgeth righteously:
What an example Christ left, when we were at enmity with God, he died for the ungodly, when all the people in one accord said, crucify him, crucify him, and release Barabas Jesus said, "Father forgive them…"
Ac 7:60 And he kneeled down, and cried with a loud voice, Lord, lay not this sin to their charge. And when he had said this, he fell asleep.
15 Rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep.
There are two parts in this verse.
1. Rejoice with them that do rejoice.
2. Weep with them that weep.
For us to have these qualities we need to have a mutual affection for one another as we need to consider their condition as our own. Without a mutual affection you cannot practice this. For instance if you hear that someone that you do not know is rejoicing because that person who was hurting without a job, now he found a job, do you rejoice? Or you hear of a Missionary who is being persecuted by the neighbors and burned all his things, while he was away. Can you mourn for this person, whom that you do not know? You may feel sorry but you cannot feel it unless they are closely related to you. If something happens to my own family I feel it. But To someone else I do not feel that much. That is why I said, to practice to rejoice with one another and to mourn with one another you need to have a mutual affection to one another. This is true love.
Nehemiah 1:1 The words of Nehemiah the son of Hachaliah. And it came to pass in the month Chisleu, in the twentieth year, as I was in Shushan the palace,
Nehemiah 1:2 That Hanani, one of my brethren, came, he and certain men of Judah; and I asked them concerning the Jews that had escaped, which were left of the captivity, and concerning Jerusalem.
Nehemiah 1:3 And they said unto me, The remnant that are left of the captivity there in the province are in great affliction and reproach: the wall of Jerusalem also is broken down, and the gates thereof are burned with fire.
Nehemiah 1:4 And it came to pass, when I heard these words, that I sat down and wept, and mourned certain days, and fasted, and prayed before the God of heaven,
Luke 19:41; Now as he drew near, he saw the city and wept over it. Jerusalem meant a lot to Jesus. He had affection for this city. At one time he cried saying in Luke 13:34 "O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, which killest the prophets, and stonest them that are sent unto thee; how often would I have gathered thy children together, as a hen doth gather her brood under her wings, and ye would not!"
If someone is rejoicing and here we are not blessed, and the tendency of the flesh is to be jealous instead of rejoicing. Yes, outside we can show we are smiling but inside we are bitter with envy. That is hypocracy. Once we are truly regenerated we can rejoice with whom rejoice.
The most hard part is to weep with those who weep. We need to weep with our brother or sister rather than to look at a distance and feel sorry for him. What ever the condition of the other person we need to transfer our mind and our heart to the condition of our brother or the sister, whether it is grief in adversity or joy in prosperity. And not to be envious of our brother when he is in joy and not to be sorry for his sorrow and say "I feel sorry for him, but adapt the same feeling of his situation to us. Read, James 2:15-16 "If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food, And one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled;"
Ro 12:16 Be of the same mind one toward another. Mind not high things, but condescend to men of low estate. Be not wise in your own conceits.
The Bible speaks about the mind a lot. The word mind, the heart the soul and the spirit are all interchangeble and talking of the same thing. Here it is talking of the proud mind.
We should not be high minded of our knowledge or in our outward appearance but to exercise humility. Many times we like to show how knowledgable we are and to excel ourselves before the others to show that how strong a Christian we are and we do that with the flavor of pride. In encouraging others we should not exalt ourselves so others will look up to us and not to the Lord. Our superior wisdom and intelligence can make us like the Pharisees. Even among the reformed churches today there is pride, as some might say who are you? And what are your credentials? Look at mine. Boy I am proud about it. We should not elevate our mind for others to recognize us, but need to have a lowliness of mind, instead of looking to honor myself we need to honor others. When we think we are smarter than others and want recognition and attention from the others, our mind begins to swell. Today there are lot of sermons preached on self esteem. This is a hinderace to have a humble mind before the Lord.
Read Psalm 131.
Matthew Henry in his commentary on this portion says, "Humble saints cannot think so well of themselves as others think of them. The love of God
reigning in the heart, will subdue self-love. Where there is a
proud heart, there is commonly a proud look." Also he said, "as the child at the disposal of the mother or nurse." Our hearts are crying out for worldly things, and we want to be like the world as we are fond of the world. But we need to be like a little child who goes through a weaning process, who is so fond of the mother's milk, one day the child has to stop drinking mother's milk and go to more solid food. It is not easy to stop the mother's milk, in the same way we need to go through that process of weaning like a child and to the ones that we adored so much the worldly attitude, although we were fond of it we need to stop as we need to eat more solid food. Then when our souls are weaned like a child we can have confidence in God as we will humble us like Christ.
# Mt 18:4 Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven.
PRACTICAL SIDE OF THE LESSON
Mat. 5:5 Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.
Jesus said, "For I am gentle and lowly in heart.."
Meekness toward God is that disposition of spirit in which we accept His dealings with us as good, and therefore without disputing or resisting. In the OT, the meek are those wholly relying on God rather than their own strength to defend them against injustice. Thus, meekness toward evil people means knowing God is permitting the injuries they inflict, that He is using them to purify His elect, and that He will deliver His elect in His time. (Is. 41:17, Lu. 18:1-8) Gentleness or meekness is the opposite to self-assertiveness and self-interest. It stems from trust in God’s goodness and control over the situation. The gentle person is not occupied with self at all. This is a work of the Holy Spirit, not of the human will. (Gal. 5:23)
A calm temper of mind, not easily provoked (James 3:13). Peculiar promises are made to the meek (Matt. 5:5; Isa. 66:2). The cultivation of this spirit is enjoined (Col. 3:12; 1 Tim. 6:11; Zeph. 2:3), and is exemplified in Christ (Matt. 11:29), Moses (Num. 12:3)and Paul (1 Cor. 9:19).