14 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them.
Verses 14 to 16 show six exhortations regarding how Christians are to react to others in different situations.
14 Bless [speak good upon] those who persecute you;
To “bless” is to call on God to bestow His grace on someone. This is a standard of character that transcends natural norms. To bless is a step far beyond non-retaliation. Christians are to actively seek the best for their persecutors. To call unadulterated blessing on our enemies requires a definite action of the will.
Mt 5: 44 But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you,
Paul repeats the word “bless” for emphasis. Passive acceptance of those who persecute us is not sufficient. It is not enough to simply withhold retaliation. We must take the proactive step of blessing them.
and do not curse them.
“Curse” is more than an insult; it is a wish that God would sentence our enemies to punishment of some sort. They might view us as having a malicious tongue. The spirit of refusing reconciliation is not a Christian attitude. If we keep this approach, it will result in vicious retaliatory cycles.
There is a temptation to respond in kind to people who give us trouble. It is natural to resent ill treatment from others. The normal reaction is to take vengeance against them. The Greek indicates that the Romans were already cursing their persecutors; “do not curse them” is properly rendered “stop cursing them.”
God’s standard is no mere absence of retaliation towards reviled Christians; we are to take the further step of blessing them.
The Christian attitude is not a mixture of blessing and cursing on our enemies but is strictly a positive blessing. We invoke God’s blessing on them.
Christians are to call for God’s blessing on people who give us trouble. True love desires the best for others, no matter who or what they may be. This is against our natural inclination. Our natural reaction is to retaliate against people who hurt us.
1 Co 4: 12 And we labor, working with our own hands. Being reviled, we bless; being persecuted, we endure; 13 being defamed, we entreat. We have been made as the filth of the world, the offscouring of all things until now.
We like to think we are just being brutally frank, whereas people see right through that rationalization and they disregard what we say. Unguarded comments can do a great deal of damage to our relationships with non-Christians.