What Jesus requires of His disciples is something more than mere restraint. It is not just that one refrains from responding in kind; it is more than that. Jesus wants His disciples to respond by blessing in the face of cursing. One can sow seeds of kindness, patience, love, and reconciliation. By not responding in kind, believers demonstrate that they are different from the world and its ways. By not responding in kind, believers show that they are the true sons of God who have been and are being transformed by the grace of God in the inner man.
The Apostle Paul also promotes this godly and Christ-honoring way of responding to hurt or offense. In Romans 12:14–21, he writes, “Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them,” and, “Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all” (vv. 14, 17). Here again we hear echoes of the teaching of our Lord. Jesus teaches us in Luke 6:28: “Bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you.” Again, this is contrary to the inclinations of the fallen nature of mankind. However, God has granted His Spirit to us as believers that we might have the power to do what He requires of us (Rom. 8:4).
The believer who is under the controlling influence of the Holy Spirit will look at the big picture instead of the narrow focus of how he has been offended. He will look up to the greatness of his heavenly Father, who, although He has been offended infinitely more by sinful men, allows the warming rays of the sun to shine on them and the refreshing rains to fall on them in kindness. His heart will be overwhelmed by the realization that God has not responded to him in kind, that for all of his sin, disrespect, and rebellion, God has responded to him in kindness. In Titus 3:3–5, we read:
For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by others and hating one another. But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us.
When a Christian faces harsh, unkind, or unfair treatment from others, the manner of his response can bring great glory to God. When the temptation to respond in kind is resisted, the door is opened for an opportunity to see God at work. When prayer is offered for persecutors and blessing is given in response to cursing, God’s Spirit is at work, and the grace of God that enables a believer to deny himself and not to respond in kind is put on display.