Repay no one evil for evil. Have regard for good things in the sight of all men.
Our humanness often wants to retaliate when it is offended. It declares that we should treat people the way they treat us.
But in Luke 23:34, Jesus taught the very opposite when he said, “Father, forgive them because they don’t know what they do.”
Jesus 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.” Paul says in Romans 13:8, “Owe no one anything except to love one another, for he who loves another has fulfilled the law.” Forgive. Do not be in debt to anyone else’s actions, and you fulfill Christ’s Law to love as He has loved you.
Jesus was the greatest example of love ever known. 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. He was without fault. It wasn’t His fault He was rejected. We aren’t responsible for the actions of someone else. But we are responsible for the way we react to make sure it is 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. Jesus gave His love unconditionally to us when we did not deserve it.
Just being honest in God’s eyes isn’t enough. Romans 12:17 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.” In 2 Corinthians 8:21 Paul writes, “providing honorable things, not only in the sight of the Lord, but also in the sight of men.” Not only are we to be honest in God’s eyes but also in the eyes of men.
“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. We are to pursue love and peace with others (1 Corinthians 14:1)—even when we aren’t at fault. It is our choice. We need to be sure that we are at peace with other people. But 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.
We love with the unconditional love Jesus has given us. Freely we have received. Freely give.
© 2023 Lynn Lacher