What is your first reaction when someone brings harm to you or someone you know? Is it getting even? What should we think when we read in the Bible where it says “an eye for an eye”? What’s that all about?
Paul is clear here in this verse. We should not repay evil with evil. I remember being picked on as a child. Hurtful words are certainly evil in my book. It was so tempting to lash back with more of the same, but I didn’t have the courage. Looking back, it seems my fear actually kept me from sinning in return.
I can also remember my mother breaking up a fight or two between my little brother and me. I can almost hear my mother saying, “be the bigger person and stop this nonsense.” Even her words echo the truth being shared by Paul to his readers. Evil for evil is what I would label “revenge.”
The Bible is pretty clear that revenge is not on God’s approved behavior list. If it is our intention to live a life that pleases God, then we should steer clear of revenge and what that does to our hearts and souls. Luke 6:27 says, “But to you who are willing to listen, I say, love your enemies! Do good to those who hate you.” That’s a tricky one – to love your enemies. Not bullying back seems much simpler!
In Romans 12:17-21 , Paul goes into a little more detail on the issue of revenge. I love the message here to let God be the one who seeks revenge on our behalf. It’s our job to conquer evil by doing good. Have you ever tried that? I’ve heard other people say, “kill them with kindness.” Now, of course, there is no killing going on. But showing kindness in return will surely stop our oppressors in their tracks, don’t you agree?
What are some examples of conquering evil by doing good that you have been part of? In describing the armor of God, Ephesians 6:16 says, “In addition to all of these, hold up the shield of faith to stop the fiery arrows of the devil.” That is how we can overcome evil and stay strong in the face of adversity. Our faith in Jesus. What a role model we have to follow. Jesus faced evil and won!
We sometimes forget we have a whole tool kit of resources at our disposal. God’s word is so full of those resources. We can feel “safe in our bubble” with that shield of faith surrounding us. Take some time today to just visualize that for yourself. You are safe inside a force field of God’s love protecting you from the evil one. When evil does sneak through the barrier, it is only because of our own failure to stay true to our faith. Thankfully God is always with us and can pick up the pieces when we’re broken.
I read a cool internet story today on a friend’s profile. It’s probably a true story, but I am not sure of the original source. I love how the story is told to include God. I’ll share it with you here.
“I was at TJ Maxx today and heard a loud crash and something shattering. Being nosy, I walked towards the sound and saw some people whispering and looking back to the end of the next aisle. When I walked down that aisle, I saw that an older lady had hit a shelf and many things had fallen to the ground and broken. She was kneeling on the floor embarrassed, frantically trying to clean up. I felt so bad for her. Everyone was just standing there staring at her. So, I went and knelt beside her and told her not to worry and started helping her pick up the broken pieces. After about a minute, the store manager came and knelt beside us and said, “Leave it, we will clean this up.” The lady, totally embarrassed said, “I need to pay for all this.” The manager smiled, helped her to her feet and said, “No ma’am, we have insurance for this, you do not have to pay anything!” If you have read this far, give me another minute.
Wherever you are, close your eyes, and imagine God doing the same for you! Imagine the broken pieces of your mistakes or the pieces of your broken heart from all the blows life has thrown at you all over the floor and you’re there trying to collect all of the pieces and fix them yourself. Now imagine God comes and kneels right down beside you, smiles and says to you, “Leave it all there, I will clean this up for you.”
He loves you that much and wants to put all of those pieces back together if you will let Him! With Him we have this insurance and it’s called GRACE! It’s free! All you have to do is ask Him to forgive you, help you, and to heal you. He’s faithful, I promise!”
Let’s pray … Lord, thank you for what you have done for me. Help me to always focus on that as I grow closer to you and deepen my faith. I want to have the courage and bold faith to love even my enemies. Give me the wisdom and strength to break the cycle of evil. Use me to make this world a safer, happier, and more loving place. In Jesus’ name. Amen.