Repay no one evil for evil. Have regard for good things in the sight of all men.
There is an unspoken human understanding that says we should treat people the way they treat us. But in Luke 23:34, Jesus taught the opposite when he said, “Father, forgive them because they don’t know what they do.” He gave His life to prove that you do not repay evil with evil. We are commanded in Ephesians 4:32 to “be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you.”
Jesus was the greatest example of love ever seen. Truly, God is love (1 John 4:8, 16), and Jesus is God (1 Timothy 3:16). Still, Jesus was rejected by those He came to die for. Jesus had no fault in Him. It wasn’t His fault He was rejected. We aren’t responsible for the actions of someone else, but we are responsible to make sure it’s not our fault that they reject us.
In Romans 12:17, Paul repeated the same teaching. If we are to be like Christ, then we don’t give people what they deserve. Just being honest in God’s eyes isn’t enough. This verse directs us to have integrity in the sight of others. This parallels what Paul said in 1 Thessalonians 22. We are to “abstain from all appearance of evil.” Not only do we need to be right, but we also need to act right.
“If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men” (Romans 12:18).
This verse advises us to live peaceably with all people. However, the wording of the verse shows this isn’t always possible. We are responsible for our actions and how we react to others, but we aren’t responsible for the actions of other people. Pursuing peace with others—even when we aren’t at fault—is our choice. We need to be sure that we are at peace with other people. It is their decision if they are at peace with us.
“Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good” (Romans 12:21).
We cannot combat evil with evil. Evil is only overcome with good. It is maddening to see the plans of the enemy played out in someone’s life. However, we must never allow our frustration with them to make us utilize the enemy’s tactics. Our anger never accomplishes the righteousness of God (James 1:20). We need to curse the darkness and be the light of Christ.
“But I say to you who hear,” Jesus instructed in Luke 6:27. “Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, and pray for those who spitefully use you.”
It is the goodness of God that leads us to repentance (Romans 2:4). The goodness of God in us—where we don’t repay evil with evil—can lead another to repentance, too.
©2023 Lynn Lacher