Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep. Be of the same mind toward one another. Do not set your mind on high things, but associate with the humble. Do not be wise in your own opinion. Repay no one evil for evil. Have regard for good things in the sight of all men.
We are called to display grace, mercy and love toward others, just as it was shown to us when we were sinners in rebellion against God. Though we can become angry and hurt when wronged or persecuted, we are not to respond in like fashion. Paul may have been thinking of Stephen or Jesus when he wrote this passage, both of whom, were examples of this great Biblical truth. This means we are not to take this lightly, it is a difficult thing, especially when we know there will be suffering and persecution in the lives of Christians. Moreover, this is something we cannot do in our own willpower, it requires the work of the Holy Spirit in us. That’s why spiritual growth and the study of God’s word are so important in our lives. What is being asked of us cannot be done under our own willpower. We cannot use our own determination and pride, to make ourselves place the concern of others above our own personal welfare. Why is this not possible? Because it requires that we have a changed heart, which can only happen through a relationship with Christ Jesus our Lord. God calls us to love our enemies and to not retaliate or seek revenge. It’s not enough to just not seek revenge, but we are to have a genuine love for our enemies.
A love which shows heart-felt concern for their fallen state. And this can only happen through the work of the Holy Spirit in our hearts and in our lives, which builds us into a new creation in Christ Jesus our Lord. In addition, it also requires the study of God’s word and the spiritual growth that comes with it. It’s through the Holy Spirit’s work in us and our regular study of God’s word that we can gain a heart for putting others first including our enemies. But first, before our hearts can be changed, we must be found in Christ Jesus. Without a relationship with God, through Christ, we will not have the indwelling of the Holy Spirit and His work of sanctification. Moreover, we will not be able to understand the Bible, because the Bible testifies of Jesus and God’s plan of redemption. In addition, without the Holy Spirit and God’s word we cannot begin to fight the spiritual battle that rages all around us. We must always remember that our sin nature will not go down quietly. We must first cut it off and starve it out, by turning our lives over to Jesus. Then we must lay siege against it from the regular reading and studying of God’s word. It’s only when we do this that we can truly develop a heart of humility, which places others before ourselves and finally turn off the switch in our hearts that keeps the “self” light continuously lit.