Romans 12:9-20 says, “Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord. Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality. Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight. Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, ‘Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.’ To the contrary, ‘if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink …” (ESV).
Believers in Jesus Christ are not to be wise in our own sight. Last time we talked briefly about the difference between confidence and haughtiness—or pride. Confidence means having the assurance that we can do all God calls us to do because of His enabling. Haughtiness and pride mean thinking we don’t need Him. We must remember we cannot even draw a breath without His mercy and grace.
I’ve often said I wouldn’t do such and so and thereby compared myself to another person. It is something I now try to deliberately avoid. Even though I didn’t necessarily mean to imply that I was better than the other person, that is easily how it could have come across. It was a subtle indicator that I didn’t truly believe we’re all equally in need of God’s forgiveness and cleansing. In this and other ways, I don’t want to be wise in my own sight.
Last time I also mentioned living peaceably with others. It makes me think back to when my three were young. There is so much more I could have done to make our home more peaceful. Sadly, my expectations of both my children and my husband were often unrealistic. I would say hurtful things when they didn’t meet these expectations. It is evidence of God’s grace that our relationships are infinitely better now and that they love me deeply despite my shortcomings and failings as a wife and mother.
Philippians 2:3 says, “Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.”
If we do this, we are much more likely to live at peace with family, friends, coworkers … everyone.
This doesn’t mean others will recognize and appreciate our efforts. But even if they don’t, even if they are hurtful and hateful toward us, we must not take it upon ourselves to get even. We must leave it up to the Lord to take care of us, to work things out for our good as He promises in Romans 8:28.
We are not to repay evil for evil. In fact, we are to love our enemies. If we are walking in obedience to these commands, we will not seek to avenge wrongs done to us.
As I’ve often said, I don’t believe God expects us to remain in abusive relationships. We don’t have to let others use us as a doormat. But we can stand up for ourselves and get the help we need without disobeying God’s directives. It will require a great deal of godly wisdom, which He will gladly give those who ask.
As we look at the marks of true Christians one by one, we realize the Lord has much to say about those who do us wrong, those who are our enemies. This passage says we are to care for them. Just like love, we may think of caring for someone as an emotional response. But both words mean so much more.
Our love is exemplified by what we do, as is our care. In fact, we use the term “to care for someone” as synonymous for meeting another person’s needs. We care for children by nurturing them and keeping them safe. We care for the sick by meeting their physical and possibly, their emotional needs. We care for the elderly in the same way.
We don’t find it unusual to think of caring for our family and friends. We likely spend several hours each week doing exactly that. But what about caring for our enemies? Is God serious? Indeed He is. And His command that we care for them leads right into the next mark of a believer.
We are not to be overcome by evil. And how is that possible? I love what the rest of the phrase says. Instead of being overcome by evil, we are to overcome evil with good.
Hatred seems powerful. Love is more so.
Malice also seems powerful. Kindness is more so.
We only need to look around to come to the conclusion that evil is powerful. But rest assured, God’s goodness is infinitely more powerful.
Be encouraged by Galatians 6:9, which says, “And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.”