Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all (Romans12:17)
Give a thought to do what is honourable in the sight of all. This is not about pleasing people but about acquiring peace amidst backstabbing people. God does not want us to compromise with truth to have a cordial relation with fellow-men.
In Genesis 19 we see that God sent His angels to save Lot and his family from destruction but he was unable to understand God’s plan. More than the understanding of God’s love and care he was familiar with the whims and fancies of people. Hence, Lot engaged himself into filthy negotiation to please those sinners. Many a time we too tend to commit this mistake as we are living in a corrupted world. Maintaining peace does not mean compromising our ethical values. Lot was interrupted by the angels of God and he was saved.
While Jesus was in a boat with His disciples, a tempest tossed their boat and the disciples feared that they would sink but as they approached Jesus, the tempest was calmed down by Him and they were able to reach ashore. In our day-to-day struggle let us learn to approach Jesus. He is greater than the one who is in this world. He dwells within us. Paul is teaching us to exercise peace amidst trials and tribulations. The best example in this context is Acts 16:22-25.
“The crowd joined in attacking them, and the magistrates tore the garments off them and gave orders to beat them with rods. And when they had inflicted many blows upon them, they threw them into prison, ordering the jailer to keep them safely. Having received this order, he put them into the inner prison and fastened their feet in the stocks. About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them.”
Paul had captured his prison experience while writing the epistle to Romans. They (Paul and Silas) did what was honourable in the sight of all. A broader aspect of acceptance. Praising the creator in a corruptive environment. Paul did not want to please a few people, the inmates, the soldiers and the authorities. But Paul and Silas started praising God forgetting their situation. If we love God then only we can overcome the situation. But it was even acceptable for the soldiers. They accepted Jesus Christ as their personal saviour in spite of Paul’s and Silas’s helpless condition. Do not lose heart because of your helpless condition. Do not stop proclaiming His name because of your own problem or sickness. Jesus Christ came to our rescue not as a king but as a poor man. Remember this.
If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. (Romans12:18)
Broken relationships create panic in many believer’s heart and they continue to have a guilty feeling.
“So if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift. Mathew 5: 22-24″.
Jesus knows that when a believer comes to the altar to offer a gift, definitely he will not be having anything against his brother but the brother might have something against him. Hence Jesus advises reconciliation. Resolving the problem is not reconciliation. Loving a person who is a reason for a conflict is reconciliation. Jesus addresses this to believers so that he will have a guiltless heart. Jesus says if a believer remembers the conflict he should clear it. Jesus does not say that you shall not have a conflict. It is all about our conscious. If a brother keeps on blaming you in spite of your cooperation then how are you going to offer a gift at the altar. Paul dealt with this situation in Romans 12:18 “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.” (Romans12:19).
God does not allow us to intervene in His jurisdiction. He says Vengeance is mine. It does not necessarily mean that God is going to take revenge but it is to keep us safe, preventing us from conflicts and to give us peace. God cares for us so He talks about us. But we do not bother about God and His ways, hence are unable to understand Him. When we do not understand God, we commit mistakes by relying on our own expertise.
To the contrary, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” (Romans12:20)
Jesus in another place asks us to move forward if anyone does not listen to our words.
“And if anyone will not receive you or listen to your words, shake off the dust from your feet when you leave that house or town. Matthew 10:14“ This is not a contradictory statement but it is a practical way out to move forward. But Jesus does not say to curse them or punish them. But to leave them at His hand. Paul here quotes from Proverb 25: 21-22 “If your enemy is hungry, give him bread to eat, and if he is thirsty, give him water to drink, for you will heap burning coals on his head and the Lord will reward you.“ In Acts chapter 16 Paul explains his application of above verse when the soldier was about to die. Paul does not want any acceptance in the sight of soldiers when he praised God but did not wait to help him. God turned that situation to the benefit of that soldier and his family.
Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. (Romans12:21)
With all these Biblical illustration we have to understand that God is good – God only is good. Our good deeds cannot contribute in overcoming evil but it is the goodness of our Lord God that overcomes the evil. Let us submit all the hostile situation of our life at our God’s hand and overcome them.