"Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep."|
- Romans 12:14-15 NKJV
Years ago, while I was working as a secretary in a small office, my husband, Joe, and I got engaged. Up until this time, I had a warm and friendly relationship with all of the girls in my office, and it was a very pleasant work environment for me. As soon as my husband presented me with a beautiful diamond engagement ring, and we began to make plans for our wedding, the ladies in my office began to treat me differently. Suddenly, the warmth that we shared between us seemed to evaporate, and our relationship became distant and cold. All of these women were single at the time, and even though I had hoped that they would share my joy, they instead chose to become jealous and offended. I can still remember sitting alone in my car during lunch time, weeping bitter tears because of the pain in my heart.
These unpleasant memories came to mind recently when I experienced some extraordinary blessings from the Lord, and was met with a cool reception from some of my friends and loved ones. We often talk about "fair-weather" friends--those who desert us in the hard times--but what about the friends who reject us in the good times? I recently heard from a dear lady I know who was in the process of adopting some young children, since all of her own children were grown and out of the house. She had earnestly sought God about the matter, and she felt sure that she was in His will. She shared with me how her dearest friend of more than 20 years was not happy about the adoption, and that she had every intention of ending the friendship if it took place. She asked for my advice, and I told her that it was all right for her to feel saddened by the loss of this friend, but that it was not all right to let her emotions dictate her actions. She should obey God, and let Him take care of the consequences. And that's exactly what she did. Today, though she misses her friend very much, she rejoices in the constant flow of blessings that have entered her life since she welcomed these two precious little ones into her home and heart.
One of the things that Satan hates most is seeing God's people blessed and making progress. Suppose you get a promotion at work? Chances are that there will be someone who won't like it, and who will become jealous and critical of you because of it. What if you're in ministry and the Lord opens a new door of opportunity for you, so that you can reach more people with the life-changing message of the Gospel? Brace yourself, because the devil is not going to sit idly by while you become a greater threat to his kingdom. Don't be surprised if he incites people--including some of your closest loved ones--to have a negative reaction. I made up my mind a long time ago that even if every single one of my loved ones deserts me, I am STILL going on with God. If you can't make the same statement with all sincerity, then sooner or later, Satan will put enough pressure on you to make you turn your back on the Lord.
The Bible says: "Bless those who persecute you [who are cruel in their attitude toward you]; bless and do not curse them." (Romans 12:14 AMP) When others hurt us or turn their backs on us, it can be tempting to respond in an un-Christlike way. But God commands us to bless those who are unkind to us. If we pray and ask the Lord how we can do that, He will most likely tell us to pray for them, and to refrain from speaking unkindly about them. If these people are a constant source of pain and discouragement for us, God may lead us to distance ourselves from them, at least for a time. The rest of this passage says: "Rejoice with those who rejoice [sharing others' joy]..." (Romans 12:15 AMP) It's God's will for us to share others' joy when they are blessed somehow. It's offensive to Him when we respond with a jealous or judgmental attitude. Sometimes, when others respond negatively to our good news, we are just reaping the consequences of our own sinful attitudes from the past. If we pray and ask the Lord for His help, He will change our hearts. David declared, "Even if my father and mother abandon me, the Lord will hold me close." (Psalm 27:10 NLT) David had the right attitude. How about you?
Prayer: Lord, when others turn their backs on me because of Your blessings, help me to respond in a Christlike manner, and to be quick to turn to You for comfort and healing. Don't let me be so afraid of rejection that I miss out on the awesome plans You have for my life. Thank You that as I cling to You, You'll make me steadfast, immovable--and faithful to Your call!
- J. M. Farro