When we encounter opposition, hurt, or betrayal, our initial reaction might be to wish ill of the people who caused us pain. We may be tempted to curse our enemies, but is this the response we should have as followers of Christ?
In Matthew 5:43-44, Jesus gives us a radical new way to treat those who act as our enemies. “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.” It’s quite clear from Jesus’ teachings that we shouldn’t curse our enemies, but instead, love and pray for them.
The Example of the Apostles
The apostles took these teachings to heart. For example, when Stephen was being stoned to death, his response was not to curse those who were murdering him, but to pray for their forgiveness. “Lord, do not hold this sin against them,” he said (Acts 7:60). The Apostle Paul also encourages us to bless those who persecute us, to bless and not curse them (Romans 12:14).
The Old Testament vs. The New Testament
In the Old Testament, the law was ‘an eye for an eye’, which could easily justify cursing those who harm us. But Jesus turns this around in the New Testament. In Matthew 5:38-42, he says, “You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’ But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also.”
The Power of Words
Our words hold power. Proverbs 18:21 says, “Death and life are in the power of the tongue,” emphasizing how our words can either build up or tear down. As Ephesians 4:29 instructs us, “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.”
Cursing our enemies may be our initial, human response, but it’s not the one that reflects Christ’s teachings. We are called to a higher standard, one that chooses love over hate, blessings over curses, and forgiveness over revenge. It may be difficult, but by following these teachings, we can truly reflect the grace and love that we have been given. Let’s challenge ourselves to replace every negative thought and word with love and prayer.