Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord. On the contrary: “If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
I think it will always be true that our Christian faith has mystery to it. There are many things about living out our faith in Christ that don’t make sense to the human mind, the natural mind. That is our tendency, though, to think of our world and our responses to it in the natural; add 1 to 1 and you get 2, throw a ball up and it falls back down, yell at someone in anger and they become angry back. Uh oh, that last example is getting a little personal. I mean, I have the right to defend myself, don’t I? They need to know they can’t treat people like that. Doesn’t this make perfect sense? Sometimes people really need to be put in their place.
Let’s look at what Jesus did and said to prove this point. Let’s see, in John when the leaders and soldiers were coming to get Jesus, Peter cut off one of their ears. No, I guess Jesus told him not to do that and healed the man, so that example doesn’t work. Doesn’t the Bible say something about “an eye for an eye”? I guess that doesn’t work either, as I read in Matthew that Jesus tells us to turn the other cheek if we’re slapped, and if we’re sued for our shirt to give them our coat too. I don’t think I’m going to be able to make my point. As we are attempting to make our way and live in the world, God says we are not to be “of the world” (John 15:19). He changed the narrative for living when he sent us Christ.
As it says above in Romans 12, “If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink.” Christ wants us to live for something bigger than ourselves. I am glad I’m saved, but Christ desired that all would be saved and come to know who He is. If we are to fulfill the Great Commission by going out into the world and telling others the Good News of Christ, we need to work on reacting to the world as Christ wants us to. It is good for us personally as we take peace in knowing we can just do our best, and God will handle the big picture. And what is our best? Mom always said, “Just do your best, Honey” That’s good encouragement, but what is our best when it comes to following Christ in how we relate to others?
Christ succinctly told us in John 13:34-35, “Love one another.As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” So, maybe not slapping back, but rather showing grace and compassion for the angry person. This is how we show the world that there is something different and something good about being a Christian. For me, this isn’t always easy or natural. I have to check myself often. Frequently, I have to take a step back and consciously think about what it is Jesus would want from me. Faith in Christ is a journey. I have solidly come to the conclusion that I am imperfect and will always be in need of a Savior. So, given that, I just need to prayerfully work on my attitude, my perspective, and my love one day at a time.
by Chet Gilmore