Its not every day that the readings line up like they did today. Today, I was reading and heard the same thing in part of 1 Corinthians that I heard in Psalm 109. In both were the similar message…when cursed, our response is to bless.
While they curse, may you bless (Psalm 109:28)
When we are cursed, we bless. (1 Corinthians 4:12)
Not a lot to say with this other than how that is so against our nature. When we are wronged or hurt, we want to lash out so badly. We want to take revenge. We want to even the score. But so often when we do that it just perpetuates the cycle. Someone wrongs me, I get them back, they up the ante and get me back, and I go back at them and the cycle doesn’t stop. Martin Luther King once shared:
The ultimate weakness of violence is that it is a descending spiral, begetting the very thing it seeks to destroy. Instead of diminishing evil, it multiplies it. Through violence you may murder the liar, but you cannot murder the lie, nor establish the truth. Through violence you may murder the hater, but you do not murder hate. In fact, violence merely increases hate. So it goes. Returning violence for violence multiplies violence, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.
While King is talking about violence, I think you can widen the scope – it happens in our personal realtionships, in our business associations, and yes even in the church. The Lord really spoke to me today about blessing rather than cursing. Return the evil with a blessing. Hard, seemingly impossible, to do. But with the grace and Spirit of God, it is possible and the cycle can stop.
I pray this for the many places in our world where the cycle needs to stop – be it in places that we all hear about – war torn countries, places of deep racial and cultural and religious division, and in countless relationships where the temptation is to let the cycle continue. I want to choose another way. The way that I read this morning in both the words of the Psalmist and the world of Paul. (Oh and Jesus said something about this too – something about “turn the other cheek, love your enemies, pray for those who persecute you.”)