Today’s message is from Pastor Pam Sutherland of the St. Paul United Methodist Church & Fort Gibson United Methodist Church
|“Bless your heart.” Most southerners would say that phrase is used more often as an insult rather than an expression of concern or sympathy. I guess it all depends on the situation and tone of voice. And while I am not a southerner by birth or family heritage, I’ll admit I have used it both ways.|
What does it mean to “bless” someone? In a biblical sense it means to invoke God’s favor and protection over someone. We pray God’s blessing over our family and our friends. Over those we love or are at least fond of. But what about those “others”? You know, the ones you don’t really care for, the ones who irritate you, harass you, actually try to bring harm to you?
Romans 12:14 in the Amplified Bibles says: “Bless those who persecute you [who cause you harm or hardship], bless and not curse [them].” That can’t be right, can it? Why would I bless someone who is harassing me or trying to harm me?
Years ago, my friends had a neighbor whose dog barked all night long. Every night. The neighbors weren’t the sort to take kindly to any suggestions about keeping the dog quiet, so night after night my friends prayed against the unkind and thoughtless neighbor and their little dog too. They prayed for some not-so-nice things to happen to them. (They were new Christians so they didn’t know any better.) Until one day when they came across that verse in Romans 12 and they realized they were doing it all wrong! From that point on they stopped “cursing” the neighbors and began praying blessings on them. Specific blessings, not just a generic “bless my neighbors” kind of prayer. They did this every night as they listened to the dog bark, and it went on for quite a while – God doesn’t always answer in our time frame, does He? Maybe He waits to see how serious we are about our obedience.
The answer came when my friend got an unexpected promotion at work with a nice raise that allowed them to move away from the barking dog and its owners into a better home and neighborhood. God honored their obedience to His command to “bless and not curse” by blessing them.
In a world where it has become so easy to harass, insult, and harm others with our words, (especially from the other side of a computer screen) and to be insulted and offended by the words of others (even people we don’t know!), I wonder what difference it would make in our lives, our world, and our “virtual worlds” if all the Christ followers would bless and not curse those with whom we have differences of opinion and perspective?
Is there someone in your life you need to bless and not curse? Why not try it? Perhaps God will honor your obedience by blessing you in a special way.
Bless your heart! And I mean that in the nice way, I really do.