Joel Osteen — Bless Your Enemies
I want to talk to you today about blessing your enemies. It's easy to be good to people that are being good to us. Doesn't take much faith to be someone that's kind to us. But what about when people do us wrong? They're talking bad about us. They weren't honest in a business deal. They walked out of a relationship. Is being good to them. They don't deserve it.
But Jesus said, "Bless those that curse you. Do good to those that hurt you. Pray for those that mistreat you". Is being good to people that have not been good to us. Everything in you will say, "Hold a grudge. Talk about them. Look for ways to get even". But your job is not to pay people back, your job is to bless your enemies. Will take care of your enemies. When it says to pray for those that have done you wrong, that doesn't mean pray that they'll go bankrupt, pray that that new girl will leave. Pray that God will bless them.
"Joel, they don't deserve it. They hurt me, it wasn't fair". Their sake, you're blessing them for your sake. Without you showing them kindness that they don't deserve, you'll get stuck. It will limit how high you can go. That left you out of the meeting, they did it on purpose, don't be surprised if you're in charge of inviting people to the next meeting. You'll be tempted to think, "Thank you, Jesus, it's payback time. I'm going to invite everyone except them. I'm going to invite the cleaning crew, the parking volunteers".
That's a test. They did you wrong, now here's your opportunity to be good to someone that wasn't good to you. If you leave them out, it's not hurting them, it's hurting you. Blessing your enemies is a test of your character. They don't need your blessing. God could have somebody else do it, but when you prove to God that you're not bitter, you're not vindictive, you're not holding a grudge, you're big enough to swallow your pride and bless them, then God knows you're ready to be promoted.
But the reason God can't promote some people is they would use that power to get even. They would fire the 6 people that did them wrong, demote the 12 people that talked about them, drive by their enemy's house every night in their new car, "Look at me now". No, God is not going to promote us to pay somebody back.
The sooner you learn to bless your enemies, to be good to those that have done you wrong, the better off you're going to be. And sometimes, the way you bless your enemy is by not talking bad about them. They may not even be in your life. They've done the damage and moved on, they're in a different chapter. You could bring up all the negative, tarnish their reputation, tell your friends how they have no character. They're dishonest, they played around. Instead, you zip it up, you cover for them, you protect their reputation, you just blessed your enemy. You just showed God you're ready to go higher.
There's an organization that training seminars for leaders and pastors. And a few years ago, when I came along, started doing the nights of hope and having big events, they didn't like it. They thought I was taking some of their audience. They started trying to discredit me and saying things that weren't true. I didn't know any of them and really didn't even pay attention to them, but a this man to come speak at one of their big conferences.
He's an influential man, it would be a big boost to their attendance, but he told them that he was my friend and he would have to check with me to see if I would recommend him coming. Well, I was the last person they wanted him to check with. They knew they had been vocal against me and said things that put me in a negative light.
You can say things that are true, but if you don't put it in the right context, if you don't tell the whole story, then technically it may be correct, but it's not being honest. That's what they had done to me, and the man called and asked me if I thought that he should do it.
My first thought was, "Lord, you are good. Feels to have somebody trying to disrespect them, to make them look bad". But deep down, I could hear the still, small voice saying, "Joel, be the bigger person. Bless your enemies. Be good to those that have done you wrong". I didn't feel like it, they line is they have a good organization. So, I swallowed my pride and put in a good word for them, didn't bring up any of the negative. When the man told them that I recommended him to attend, they nearly passed out.
A couple of months later, I receive a letter from the head of the organization. He said, "Joel, we want to apologize. We were jealous. We knew we said things about you that weren't true. We can see you're the bigger person". Proverbs says, "If your enemy is hungry, give him food to eat. If he's thirsty, give him water to drink. In doing this, you will heap coals of fire on his head, and the Lord will reward you".
When you do good to those that have done you wrong, it may feel like you're being weak, you're letting them take advantage of you. The truth is that's putting coals on their head. And that doesn't mean they're going to burn up. Some of you are thinking, "I know what to do now". It means that is more effective than trying to pay people back.
My brother Paul was overseas on people that had been injured in the war. There's a group trying to harm innocent people, doing so much damage and causing so much heartache, and Paul didn't just operate on the bring soldiers in from the other side, the ones causing all the trouble. After an operation, two of these men were talking. They didn't know Paul was around the corner with an interpreter. One said to the other, "Why are we trying to kill these people? They love us. They treat us with respect and kindness". What they felt that day was more powerful than any machine gun, any explosive.
Love is the most powerful this is what Joseph did in the scripture. His brothers were so jealous of him, they threw him into a pit. They were going to leave him there to die, but this caravan of ishmaelites came by, and they sold Joseph as a slave to a man named Potiphar. Joseph's whole world was turned upside down. His dreams, his goals, seeing his family, having his of his brothers. He ended up spending years in prison for something that he didn't do, going through lonely nights, times where he felt like God had forgotten about him.
Finally, 13 years later, after all the heartache and pain, he was vindicated and put in charge of the food supply in Egypt. He was second in command of the whole nation, one of the time. There came a great famine in the land.
One day, Joseph's brothers, the same ones that threw him into the pit, showed up at the palace looking for food. They had traveled a great distance from a foreign land and they were right in front of Joseph. It had been so long, they Joseph knew exactly who they were. This was his big chance to get even. After all the years of heartache, pain, injustice, God brought the people that caused it right in front of him.
Most of us would be thinking about payback, but the reason God could promote Joseph, the reason he could give him incredible influence and favor is God knew he could trust Joseph to handle the power correctly. Joseph had proved he would do the right thing and be good to people that had done him harm. Joseph looked at his brothers.
Instead of getting revenge, the scripture says he threw his arms around them and wept, kissing and embracing them. He invited them into the palace and served them dinner. He had them go home and bring their father and the rest of the family. He gave them land and a place to live where he could watch over them.
When you can do like Joseph and be good to someone that's caused you pain, when you can embrace someone that's betrayed you, show kindness and respect even though they don't deserve it, there's no take you. And Joseph being betrayed by his brothers, that was all a part of God's plan. God knew years down the road there was going to be a great famine. He needed somebody on the inside of Egypt where the food would be stored so the israelites could survive. He had to find somebody that could handle being mistreated vindictive.
If Joseph would've tried to get even, put his brothers in prison, then the israelites could've perished during the famine. Everything that happens is a part of God's plan. We can't see it at the time. Having a family member betray you, that doesn't make sense. A friend walk away, don't be bitter, don't hold a grudge, be a Joseph. Be good to those that have done you wrong.
Years ago, there was a pastor in another state. We had been friends with him our whole life, but there was this political issue that he felt strongly about, it was his new mission. He wanted me to get on board and help him. Well, my plate was full doing what God's called me to do, but he didn't understand it. He got so upset with me. They interviewed him in his paper back at home, and he spent half the time talking about how I wouldn't help him and I wouldn't be involved, on and on.
It's one thing to disagree, but another to start blasting somebody in public, especially somebody that's been your friend for years. And of course, I wanted to respond, set the record straight. I've learned it's better to let God fight your battles, let God be your vindicator.
A couple of years later, one of his staff members sent a request asking me to make a video for his 25th anniversary of being at his church. It was a surprise. They were going to play it in front of the whole congregation. This staff member obviously didn't know that the man had made all these negative comments about me.
My first thought was, "Yes, I have a lot to say about him, especially in front of his congregation". But seriously, I thought, "God, making a video, that's too much. I'll bless him in private, but not in public. God, you didn't say anything in the scripture about having to do it in front of people".
He didn't deserve it. He had tried to make me look bad. Him look good. This is what Joseph faced. "God, here are the brothers that did me wrong. You want me to do what? Invite them into the palace? Give them a place to live? Use my influence to give them land, give them food? Get behind me, satan. That could not be God". I didn't feel like doing it, but I knew this was a chance to bless somebody that had done me wrong.
I made the video congratulating him on 25 years and thanking him for all of his meanness, I mean all of his faithfulness. Event when the video played. He said when I came on, this pastor put his head down, and started weeping and weeping.
Blessing your enemies not only shows God that you have the character to go higher, really are. It's easy to be good to those that have been good to you, but when you can be good to people that have done you wrong, you're an exceptional person, you're a Joseph. You're the kind of man, the kind of woman that God can entrust with greatness. He could use you for his highest purposes.
We see this same quality in David. When he defeated Goliath, king Saul loved him, so much so he brought him to the palace. David would play the harp for Saul when he wasn't feeling well. But David began to get so much recognition, so much popularity that Saul became jealous of David. And one day, while he was playing the harp, Saul took a barely missed him. This happened time and time again.
Saul was wrong. He was jealous, but you will never read where David tried to pay him back. Despite Saul trying to kill him, what did David do? Played the harp for him, tried to make his life even better. Fast forward years later, Saul had been killed in a David had been the king and won many victories, had incredible success.
Now, he was later in his life, not out fighting battles, but enjoying the blessings and favor that God had given him. One night, sitting around the palace, David said to his men, "Is anyone still alive from the house of Saul that I can be good to"?
I can imagine his men saying, "Excuse me, David, are you feeling okay? Do you remember Saul was trying to kill you? He chased you through the desert, made your life miserable, threw spears at you when you were being good to him". David said in effect, "Yes, I know who he was, but I want to bless my enemies. I want to do something good for his family despite what he tried to do to me".
No wonder David is called a man after God's own heart. My prayer is, "God, help us to grow to the place where we're not looking for ways to get revenge on our enemies, but we're looking for ways to "Well, Joel, you're too nice. I believe in standing up for myself. I believe in paying people back".
The scripture says you overcome evil with good. You don't overcome evil with more evil. If you do the same thing to them that they're doing to you lie about them, they betrayed you so you betray them, not only will you have a bigger problem, more conflict, but you'll get stuck. It will keep you from rising higher.
David found Saul's grandson. He was crippled. They brought him to the palace. David gave him all the land that belonged to his grandfather. He said to him, "From now on, you will sit at my table and have dinner with me every night". You imagine having the grandson of the man that tried to kill you eating dinner with you every night, that takes a big man. That takes somebody of great character. And you may have had people do you wrong, we all have. Don't be bitter, be a David. Overcome the evil with good.
During the Korean War, a father was arrested by the communists. When they found out he was a follower of Christ, he was ordered to be shot. But when this young communist leader that was about to carry out the execution learned that this father was the head of an orphanage, he decided to spare his life and instead take the life of his son. Right on the spot, they lined executed him.
Years later, when the war was over and peace was restored, this young communist leader was put on trial by the united nations. He was found guilty and sentenced to death. Before the sentence could be carried out, this father whose son was murdered pleaded with the court to spare his life. He argued that he was too young, that he didn't really know what he was doing. Him into my own home. I'll be responsible for him. I'll make sure he lives a productive life".
Against all odds, the united nations granted this unbelievable request, and this father took the murderer of his son into his home. He loved him, he cared for him. That young man gave his life to Christ, he ended up becoming the pastor of a church.
But most of us will never have to face anything that traumatic, but you may have a co-worker that's jealous, tries to keep you from a promotion. You may have a friend that walks away, a relative that's not honest, and it's easy to hold onto the hurt and look for ways to pay them back.
Why don't you try a different approach and bless your enemies? Be good to those that have done you wrong. Living vindictive, angry, bitter, it only poisons your life. I know the pain was real, what they did hurt, it wasn't fair, but holding onto it doesn't make it better. If you will let it go and live out of a place of forgiveness, a place of wholeness, you'll not only feel better, but that's what allows the Creator of the Universe to go to work.