Blessing those who annoy you is hard enough, but being told to “bless those who curse you, and pray for those who mistreat you” (Luke 6:28), seems a little extreme.
However, returning blessings when cursed, and prayers when meant harm, is the only way to drain hate from the heart; maybe not theirs, but definitely yours. This kind of love is at the centre of Jesus’ life and teachings. And because he loved us and blessed us while we were enemies of his righteousness, we are now empowered to love and bless others.
For many I am preaching an ideal; something out of the reach of all but a few ‘saints.’ But not so! Expanding the borders of our love is what we signed up to at baptism. We had joined that brotherhood of believers commissioned to “go and make disciples of all nations” (Matthew 28:18). This immediately required us to expand our capacity to love those whom we previously gave no thought to before that day.
All sorts of extra miles are going to be expected of you. And, yes, your desire to show soul-saving compassion will be taken advantage of. Your time, money, patience, and nerves will be abused by some, and thus you must beware lest your heart grows cold. The temptation to retreat to the warmth and comfort of your brethren at the church building is stronger than you think. And there, if you are not careful, you will forget your part in that Great Commission.
It is in those extra miles of service – for the appreciative and the unappreciative alike – that you walk in the footsteps of your Saviour. Along with every good word and good deed the Holy Spirit is working on the hearts of those for whom you are walking those extra miles.