I recently heard a pastor preaching on the text from Romans 12:14 which reads, “Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse.” (NIV)
As the pastor continued his message he shared a story about a woman who had been in a car accident over 22 years ago and as a result of the accident was not able to turn her neck. The result was that she lost her driver’s license. One day while speaking with her pastor they began discussing how this accident has taken away her driving privileges for over 20 years. The pastor asked this lady if she had ever forgiven the driver of the vehicle who caused the accident to which she assured him she had many years ago. Then he asked a very different question. He asked her if she ever prayed for a blessing upon this drivers life. She paused and said no. As soon as she began praying to bless the life of the man who caused the accident, her neck was healed and she was able to get a driver’s license again. It has been over a year since this healing in her life.
The focus of this story is not so much in the healing of the woman’s neck as it is in the healing of her heart. One of the challenges the pastor gave listeners before closing his message was to write the names of all the people who have wronged them or who were persecuting them. Then he said to pray for blessing in their lives. Wow! What a thought. Not only should we forgive, but pray for blessings upon their lives. I made a list and I couldn’t believe how long it was. God brought to mind people from many years past; people who I had forgiven in thought, but still suffered hurt feelings or had angry thoughts toward because of what they had done. So there I was, holding a list of people who I really had never forgiven with my heart. Now, what was I supposed to do?
Forgiveness is about love and love is not a thought…it is an action. It is one thing to say that we forgive someone, but it is another thing to actually go beyond that and pray for blessing in their lives. Why would I want someone who has hurt me to be blessed? Because God says, “bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse.” We do it because God says to do it. But the funny thing is, when I began to pray for blessings in the lives of the people on my list, I felt a release from the prison of unforgiveness I had created for myself. I felt peace in my life. Unforgiveness really is a jail cell that we lock ourselves inside of and the truth is it only hurts us. There are still times that I remember people from my list and negative feelings are aroused, but now I turn to God and start praying blessings into their lives. And once again, I find peace.
What will you do? I suggest you do what I did and make a list. Then begin to pray blessings into the lives of the people on your list. Don’t become a prisoner to unforgiveness because it will only hurt you. Leave any vengeance to God for that is his responsibility and not ours. Our job is to love others as Christ has loved us; forgive as we have been forgiven. Don’t wait, start today!