HATEFUL ENEMIES BLOG POST GRAPHIC

Redemptive Response to Cursing, Abusive, Hateful Enemies

Between emotion and action, Jesus issues four corrective commands. “Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you.” – Luke 6:27-28 Those commands seem unreasonable and impractical especially when we have such cursing, abusive, hateful enemies. Does Jesus really expect us to respond to such horrible people with redemptive action? The answer is, Yes. Not only does he expect it, but one character in the Bible exemplifies it, Joseph.

In my previous post, we looked at how Joseph loved his family despite them becoming his enemy. How did Joseph exemplify the other corrective commands of Jesus?

When Family Becomes Enemy Title for Blog Post

Do Good to Those Who Hate You

Joseph did good even when life was bad. Joseph’s brothers sold him. He served his master well and God gave him favor (Genesis 39:3-6).

Potiphar’s wife falsely accused Joseph of rape. Potiphar put Joseph in prison. Even there he did well and the Lord gave him favor (Gen. 39:21-23).

“Where” Joseph was never changed who Joseph was. He did well because the Lord is good. Joseph’s actions became a testimony to everyone around him. We can learn from his example. When you respond with bad, it does no good!

Bless Those Who Curse You

Joseph’s brothers conspired against him. Blessing and cursing; both are about words. Words hurt.

Our natural emotional response to cursing is to curse back. In Genesis 45, Joseph had the opportunity to get physical and verbal revenge on his brothers. At one time they determined his fate in a pit, now Joseph had the opportunity to determine their fate from the palace. What sort of words would Joseph choose, blessing or cursing?

Joseph chose blessing. If you read Genesis 45:4-14 you will find that Joseph directs his brother’s attention to what God has done. He then promises to bless them and provide from them out of the abundance of Egypt. Notice the last line of this paragraph full of blessings.

“After that his brothers talked with him.”

How many of us in our time of hurt would welcome a productive conversation? Imagine having a conversation in which wrongs are confessed, the hurt is expressed, and apologies are exchanged. That sort of reconciliation only comes through redemption. A conversation like that does not come about through revenge. Cursing for cursing does not cure the hurt.

Pray for Those Who Abuse You

The Bible doesn’t record Joseph’s prayers, but make no mistake, Joseph prayed. The integrity of his character, the strength of his witness through trial, and the favor God gave him only comes through prayer. Joseph never wavered from God’s will. He interpreted dreams through the wisdom of God. When the moment of redemption came, the emotions were overwhelming. I’m sure the hurt resurfaced. But rather than revenge Joseph chose redemption. A choice like that only comes as the product of prayer.

As for you! But God!

The climax of Joseph’s story comes in Genesis 50:20. Jacob, the father of these lost boys brothers has died. Now that dad is gone, will Joseph finally get revenge? Absolutely not. He explains:

As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good to bring it about that many people should be kept alive as they are today.

Genesis 50:20

Somewhere between angry emotion and destructive action is something only Christ can do in you.

So how do we tap into this redemptive response only Christ can give?

  1. Know Christ as Lord and Savior. Through repentance and faith, we enter into a relationship with Jesus Christ (Rom. 10:9,10, 13). We don’t need a situation change as much as we need a nature change. The Bible teaches that when we repent of sin and receive Jesus as Lord and Savior that He places His Holy Spirit inside of us (2 Cor. 1:22). The fruits of our new nature will begin to emerge (Gal. 5:22-24).
  2. Renew your mind. After giving his discourse on such a great salvation, Paul turns his attention to life application in Romans 12:1-2. Our new life in Jesus calls for us to not be conformed to this world, but to be transformed into Christ. That transformation comes only through “renewal of the mind.” Renewal of the mind means that we unlearn those habits and patterns of reaction to emotion that conform to the ways of the world. We then learn Biblical, Christ-honoring patterns of behavior as part of the transformation of salvation.
  3. Feed and foster new life from the graces of the church and spiritual discipline. Part of discipleship is discipline. Seek to establish daily habits of Bible reading, prayer, service, and worship. Your church becomes a critical ally in the transformation process. God uses the church to minister His graces of forgiveness, conviction, grace, mercy, and love to His people. Prayer is a conversation with God. Sometimes in prayer, you feel as if you are only speaking to Him. You will be amazed at how God uses His church to speak back to you.

Conclusion

We will all have cursing, hateful, abusive enemies. When people take destructive action against us we are flooded with negative emotion. Our natural reaction is to return destruction for destruction. But Jesus is our in-between. He is our corrective thought. In a sin cursed world He has chosen to call his people to be the conduits of redemption. Unnatural? Yes. Supernatural? Absolutely. But by following Christ we introduce into the fabric of a fallen story something that will save many people alive. Think about it. Had Joseph chosen destructive action and destroyed his brothers the seed of the Savior would have been lost. What salvation could Christ bring from you if you choose redemptive response rather than destructive action?

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Overcoming Temptation, Just Like Joseph

In my Wednesday night Bible Study Cafe´class (Wednesdays 6:30pm at Liberty Hwy 76) I shared 7 observations about overcoming temptation gleaned from Genesis 39 as Joseph is propositioned by Potiphar’s wife.

1 Your mindset going in often determines how you come out (Gen. 39:1-6). If any man had a reason to be bitter about life, it was Joseph. He was hated by his brothers; betrayed by them and sold into slavery. Yet even in a difficult place Joseph was a man of integrity and found ways to advance. Had Joseph chosen bitterness and thought of himself only as a rejected brother and purchased slave – when a beautiful woman propositioned him he would have thought, “why not?” But because Joseph was man, his location may have changed but his mindset never did and he knew WHY NOT! How you think of yourself going in usually determines how things will come out.

2 Don’t just FANTASIZE about what you stand to gain. THINK about what you stand to lose (Genesis 39:6-10). Fantasy is a story without consequence. THINK is rooted in reality. Fantasy is in your own mind. THINK seeks out wise counsel. Fantasy “glorifies what is wrongfully gained (thank you Rob Hoffbauer – great word).” THINK understands the value of what is lost. As Potiphar’s wife propositioned Joseph with an attractive offer, Joseph cited truth – Potiphar has withheld nothing from me – he has given me responsibility – YOU ARE HIS WIFE – how can I do this great wickedness and sin against God. Don’t let the situation play out in your fantasies, THINK through it with a lens of truth.

3 Temptation is not a single encounter. It is a persistent offer (Genesis 39:10). For Potiphar’s wife, “no” meant “ask again the next day.” The Bible says she propositioned him “day after day.” I wish our temptations would go away, but even when you tell them “no” they may keep talking. You are the one who has to determine “NO” means “NO” and will continue to mean “NO.”

4 Temptation is not sin. Sin is temptation after incubation (James 1:12-15, Genesis 39:11-12). I think it is important here to insert what I believe to be the Bible’s most clear, concise teaching on temptation. It is not wrong to be tempted. We are all tempted. But James describes temptation with the same language we would describe the beginnings of human life – conception, incubation, birth, and maturity. The Bible says that Joseph did not toy around with it, he fled from it. 2 Tim. 2:22 gives us a great strategy for overcoming temptation – RUN!

5 Refusing evil does not stop evil (Genesis 39:13-18). Joseph did the right thing, but it put him in a bad situation. Joseph did not make the decision based on who she was, but on who he was. It was not about what she was willing to give, but about what he wasn’t willing to take. As right as Joseph’s decision was, it is amazing how quickly she came up with a story that was all wrong. You can’t change people – but you must be careful to not allow bad people to entice you into bad behavior. You can’t change who THEY are. Never forget who YOU are in the Lord.

6 No matter what happens, trusting God is always better than giving in to temptation (Genesis 39:19-23). A lot of us may read Genesis 39:19 as defeat – Joseph gets thrown into prison. The problem in reading that verse through modern Western eyes is that it fails to realize what COULD have happened to Joseph. He was a Hebrew slave. He could have been castrated, killed – executed – and even by some ancient Egyptian laws, fed to gators. But he was thrown into prison. Even then notice, this was not Cairo County jail. It was the King’s prison. Also notice, the Lord never left him. The language in the beginning of the passage – Joseph was favored, trusted, prospered – is the same language that is used in the end of the passage. What God did for Joseph in Potiphar’s house he will now do for him in prison. The location may change. God never does.

7 Some things feel detrimental but may prove to be beneficial (Genesis 39:19-23). Joseph wound up in prison, but if you continue to read the story he is one step closer to the throne! The stories of God’s people are filled with detrimental episodes that proved to be beneficial turns in life. There are no shortcuts to blessing. Sometimes the right way is the hard way.

Sermon of the Week: Raising Cain

The choice for this edition of Sermon of the Week is strategic. It was originally shared at Liberty Baptist Church in March of 2012, but I think it is particularly pertinent as we continue to grieve over the tragic massacre of students in Parkland, Florida last week. We not only grieve, but we scratch our heads trying to figure out, “why?” We debate as a society on how to prevent the next one.

I think the Biblical story of Cain’s slaughter of his brother Abel is instructive for us as we seek to make connections between Biblical content and culture. We had a great dialogue last week in the opening week of our forum and I want to draw this topic to a conclusion tomorrow night (2/20) in a follow-up post also entitled, Raising Cain.

In the course of political debate, we cannot fail to examine ourselves as humans. Sin is crouching at the door. We need to be careful concerning our approach to self and sin.

You can also find this audio on Liberty’s sermonaudio page.

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The Grace, Hope, and Love Daily Devotional: 52 weeks of great stories and devotions with Scriptural insight from some of America’s greatest pastors, evangelists, and authors, to help you on your daily walk. I contributed week 50!