When you bless those who curse you
From an article by Transform our World
You may have seen or experienced anger, mockery, opposition by those who disagree with you or perceive you as a threat. You will have seen such behaviour in society concerning local and national issues, using all sorts of media.
How can Christians rise above the cloud of mistrust between neighbours and insert God's grace?
The answer has to do with speaking peace and returning blessings in place of curses, as described in Luke 6:28 and 10:5, and is illustrated beautifully in the following testimony where God turned opposition into opportunity, and resistance into reconciliation.
Jackie Seeno is a San Francisco Bay Area resident and fourth generation of her family in the land development business. Over five years ago, she started her own company and later bought a piece of undeveloped local land, in hopes of building a small estate of homes. She went through the proper channels, submitted her plans to the city, outlined the nature of improvements, and received the necessary approvals and permits to begin.
As a hands-on developer, Jackie worked onsite with the numerous tradesmen contracted for the project. Spending every day with the on-site crew gave her a window into their daily lives that birthed within her a great respect and honor for the trades and moved her to look for opportunities to build up her workers. As construction commenced, Jackie purposed to honour the Lord by dedicating her business to Him and praying over and anointing the land with oil. Next, as a prophetic act, she placed Bibles into the poured-concrete foundations of each home, and wrote scriptures on the wood framing.
Things were going great. Jackie's construction crew worked diligently to stay on schedule, expenses were within budget, and many were receptive to receiving prophetic words, and allowed her to pray over them and the direction of their lives.
However, from the beginning, many neighbours opposed the project vehemently and held the opinion that the new development would somehow be a detriment to the existing neighbourhood, though the concerns were unsubstantiated. As the construction commenced, however, even greater opposition began to manifest. A few neighbours on the same street, led in particular by two ladies, began bombarding the City with complaints and accusations against Jackie and her construction crew. On various occasions, they would angrily tell Jackie and her crews that they and the estate were unwelcome. They would call Jackie names and try to provoke fights with her workers. These ladies monitored the site and whenever they believed there might be an infraction, they would skip talking to Jackie about it and call the police or City Officials instead.
Resistance to Jackie and the project took many forms. A band of neighbours filed a lawsuit against her, and on various occasions notified the newspapers and caricatured Jackie and her development in cruel terms to eager reporters, resulting in several mean-spirited articles that drew even more scrutiny and opposition to the proposed estate. On one occasion, a neighbour protesting the development sat in the street which effectively blocked the workers and heavy equipment from the site, causing a several-day shutdown of the entire project.
If that wasn't enough, the baseless attacks had gotten the attention of City staff and officials who threatened to penalize Jackie with fines and issue stop work notices to shut down the entire project.
In the midst of this, Jackie remembered the Lord's prescription to handle persecution: Bless those who curse you; Pray for the ones who come against you. You will overcome evil with good. She prayed and asked Him to prosper the neighborhood, beginning with the ladies who were leading the charge against her. She asked that His light would shine in a way that would change their lives. As she prayed over the project, the workers and neighbors, Jackie could feel a tangible grace over her heart, protecting her from getting bitter and resentful.
Hopeful to extend an olive branch, she tried to peacefully mitigate the opposition with the neighbors, but was rebuffed. When she asked God about this, He gave her a deep peace. Don't worry. I'm going to open a door no one can shut.
Despite these challenges, construction continued and Jackie and her crews worked to stay on schedule. Finally, on the day before Christmas, just before the grand opening, a big dumpster containing a final round of debris was taken away from the job site, but to Jackie's dismay, thick mud was strewn all over the street that she knew would cause even greater issues with the neighbours. It was now Christmas Eve, and Jackie was spending it sweeping away dirt from the neighbourhood that had rejected her. As she swept, God reminded her of the Christmas baskets that she had bought for each of the neighbours, but had set aside. Frustrated, she wrestled with Him about it, being the last thing she felt like doing on Christmas Eve. His response was unequivocal, True love is inconvenient. Go deliver the baskets!
Jackie finished sweeping, got the baskets and began going to each neighbours' house to deliver them and wish peace to each home. The final house belonged to the two ladies who led the protests. Jackie paused, knowing there was a real possibility they would call the police on her if she rang the doorbell. She asked the Lord and He replied simply, "Go."
The door opened and both ladies stood surprised that Jackie had approached their doorstep after being opposed for nearly two years. The woman who had led the opposition looked at Jackie, then at the basket. She stepped into the doorway - and began to cry. Through tears, she told Jackie, "Please forgive me! I allowed my anger to get the best of me, and you didn't deserve that. You weren't who I thought you were." The presence of the Lord was tangible in that moment of mutual and heartfelt forgiveness, repentance and reconciliation and wiped away the residue of everything that had led up to that God-ordained moment in time. As Jackie spent time with this woman, she learned that she was a believer in her youth, and her heart was now being stirred by the Lord once again. This woman's partner also reconciled with Jackie as they asked for each other's forgiveness, reciprocating peace to one another. These simple acts of obedience between the three of them began to set off a chain of divine events that would further prepare the spiritual atmosphere over the neighbourhood and subdivision for a new and fresh move of the Lord.
Now that Jackie and the two ladies had reconciled, it set off a process that continued with the entire neighbourhood. Jackie, with the help of the two women, invited the key neighbours who opposed the project to view the homes before the public grand opening, and hosted them for dinner and a time of making peace through verbal expressions of reconciliation that were reciprocated back to Jackie by each of the neighbours that evening. Jackie then invited the two ladies to come to the property to join her in breaking the word curses that had been spoken over it and to release a blessing in its place.
With the spiritual climate shifting, Jackie then sought a blessing from city leadership. She asked the Mayor to come in person and speak a blessing over the land. He did! He told her he honoured the trades and respected the work that was done on her site. The delays and seeming setbacks had another effect. They worked together to push the grand opening to a date that turned out to be the peak of the market. Jackie's homes sold for the highest price point in the entire city. Property values of the existing homes in the neighbourhood increased as a result, adding to the blessing of the residents. Today, the development represents one of the most beautiful spots in the Bay Area, both physically and spiritually.
The way to defeat evil is with good. The way to turn opposition into opportunity is to bless those who curse you.
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Transform Our World, 13/07/2016