Thought of the Day:
When faced with persecution, l will remember the love of Christ and bless those who seek to mistreat me.
“Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them.”
Romans 12:14 (NRSV)
My husband Solomon and I have been living in Germany for many years as expatriates. I am British and Solomon is Nigerian. We are well integrated with the traditions and social intricacies of the German culture, and we speak the language fluently.
In the past few years, I have become increasingly concerned about the growing presence of xenophobia in Germany. A few months ago, my husband was personally confronted with racial prejudice.
Solomon was entering a train, when a young man stepped forward and barred his progress. He looked angry, and his hands were balled into tight fists.
“Hey, you, foreigner,” the young man said gruffly. “Go back to your own country, and stop taking our jobs!”
Solomon was sorely tempted just to ignore the man. He was very tired and just wanted to get home. However, he saw that his persecutor was pale, gaunt, and poorly dressed. This individual had clearly gone through some hard times. Solomon felt sorry for him.
Smiling at the man, Solomon replied, “I can see that you’re angry. But I am not your enemy.”
Taking advantage of the man’s shocked silence, Solomon continued, “Anger and resentment are costing you your health. Turn those negative emotions into positive thoughts that can change your mindset and ultimately your life.” My husband is a great admirer of Dr. Norman Vincent Peale and his ministry of preaching God’s Word in combination with the principles of positive thinking.
Suddenly, the man’s mask of bravado evaporated. He admitted to Solomon that he was unemployed and living below the existence minimum. Out of frustration, he had joined a right-wing political party that cultivated animosity towards foreigners by targeting them as the cause for Germany’s socio-economic problems.
Later, when they both disembarked from the train, Solomon wrote down the title of Dr. Peale’s bestseller The Power of Positive Thinking and offered it to the young man. Solomon told him about how a relationship with God and an application of thinking positively had changed his own life around – it could change his life, too.
The young man took the piece of paper from Solomon eagerly, promising to read the book. As he walked away, gone were the former anger and bitterness that had been etched on his features; instead, the young man’s face was now full of hope and encouragement.
You tell us in 1 Peter 4:12, that we are not to be surprised when faced with persecution. Help us to react with love to those who mistreat us, for You opened out Your arms to give us Your redeeming love when our transgressions had made us Your enemy.
In Jesus’ name, we pray.
What if my husband had perceived this act of persecution as a threat and not as an opportunity to share God’s love and to set someone on the path towards a relationship with Jesus?
Paul writes in Romans 12:14 that we should bless those who persecute us. The next time someone mistreats us, let us try to react to them as Christ would — with love and forgiveness. From personal experience, I know that it’s not always easy, but it is worth striving for, in order to further God’s kingdom on earth.
Watch the video to “A Love Reaction to Racism”
We have also made a short video about this devotional for you to watch!