Before I read today’s Scripture, I sought the Lord to show me what He wanted me to see. “Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Give careful thought to do what is honorable in everyone’s eyes.” (Rom 12:17) Repaying evil for evil is what the world does. But we are no longer to be worldly, because the Holy Spirit is doing a work in us to make us more and more like Christ.
“Therefore, brothers and sisters, in view of the mercies of God, I urge you to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God; this is your true worship. Do not be conformed to this age, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may discern what is the good, pleasing, and perfect will of God.” (Rom 12:1-2)
We read in Paul’s first letter to Timothy that we are to pray for everyone, making petitions for them to come to the truth of Jesus. “First of all, then, I urge that petitions, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for everyone, for kings and all those who are in authority, so that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity. This is good, and it pleases God our Savior, who wants everyone to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.” (1 Tim 2:1-4) And if we are praying for those who have hurt us, then we aren’t seeking to “pay them back” for what they’ve done. Perhaps treating them with love and honor will make them ask us why we are able to forgive them, which opens an opportunity to share Christ.
If we love others the way Christ loves us, we will forgive them and show them the same undeserved grace we have received. The bullet points we’ve studied thus far point to this:
- Let love be without hypocrisy. Detest evil; cling to what is good.
- Love one another deeply as brothers and sisters. Outdo one another in showing honor.
- Do not lack diligence in zeal; be fervent in the Spirit; serve the Lord.
- Rejoice in hope; be patient in affliction; be persistent in prayer.
- Share with the saints in their needs; pursue hospitality.
- Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse.
- Rejoice with those who rejoice; weep with those who weep.
- Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud; instead, associate with the humble. Do not be wise in your own estimation.
- Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Give careful thought to do what is honorable in everyone’s eyes.
To choose to repay evil for evil means that we are thinking of ourselves. But Jesus was clear that when we choose to follow Him, we must let go of thinking of ourselves. “Then he said to them all, ‘If anyone wants to follow after me, let him deny himself, take up his cross daily, and follow me.'” (Luke 9:23) Being His disciple means putting aside selfish desires, and instead live for His purposes. “I have been crucified with Christ, and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.” (Gal 2:20)