Romans 12:14,17-21 Dealing with hostilities
Romans 12:14, 17-21
14 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. … 17 Never pay back evil for evil to anyone. Respect what is right in the sight of all men. 18 If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men. 19 Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord. 20 “But if your enemy is hungry, feed him, and if he is thirsty, give him a drink; for in so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” 21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
In this passage, Paul draws attention to the strategies of the devil to incite hatred and distrust in the community. When hatred and distrust are allowed to fester, it paralyses the community and stunts its growth. The solution is to never return evil for evil, but to uphold forgiveness and goodness when wronged. The best way to defeat the devil is to overcome evil with good by forgiving the wrong doer and help him when he is in need.
14 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. … 17 Never pay back evil for evil to anyone.
Here is a principle to prospering in life by winning people’s respect, and even those of your enemies. The first principle is to turn the tables on those who persecute you by operating on an entirely different principle: Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Never pay back evil for evil to anyone. Your persecutors would expect you to retaliate, but if you respond in kindness, you will surely throw him off balance. Kindness is not only defensive but offensive to the enemy who desires to divide and to ratchet up the conflict.
Always consider and uphold to do what is right in the sight of all men. If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men. (paraphrased)
Always act to preserve the peace and integrity of the community as the top priority. We do this by upholding the principle of righteousness and justice and not to retaliate in anger. We negate the effect of evil by imputing the values of love and goodness. Your persecutor will not be able to keep up with his aggression without your tit-for-tat retaliation. Do your very best to avoid aggressive confrontation, but to keep the peace for open communication by which the problems may be solved. In keeping the peace and harmony of the community, we thwart the workings of the devil that seek to threaten the prosperity of the community.
19 Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord.
When someone violates your boundary and sins against you, it does not give you the right to do the same to him. For no one is allowed to execute his own vengeance; two wrongs do not make a right. But vengeance is the responsibility of God: Vengeance is Mine, I will repay. Even as justice must be served for the evil that was done against you, the execution of justice or the wrath of God must be left to God. But if you retaliate, not only does it remove the obligation for God to act, you have done an evil thing for which you will also pay.
20 “ But if your enemy is hungry, feed him, and if he is thirsty, give him a drink; for in so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” 21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
Here is the spirit of it: not only must you refrain from causing harm. You must help your enemy if he is in need: But if your enemy is hungry, feed him, and if he is thirsty, give him a drink. The result more than often will cause your enemy to ponder over his unreasonable behavior and repent. “Heap burning coals on his head” refers to a ritual in ancient middle east culture to express remorse and repentance. However, that does not mean restoring fellowship with the aggressor which requires acknowledgment of wrong doing and repentance. Hence, believers must overcome evil by winning the perpetrator over through grace, and not be overcome by it.
1. We can stop the advance of evil by engaging the authorities that are appointed by God to protect us. But we are not to execute judgment on the wrong doer or take matters into our own hands. By causing harm to the aggressor in a personal way will not cause him to back down. It will only fuel the conflict and entrap you into hatred, and bitterness that may spiral out of control. In the end, you may even find yourself breaking the law.
2. Do not focus on the wrong doer and the injustice done to you, but be mindful of the puppet master whose real intent is to distract you from your spiritual goal. The devil uses ignorant people to hurt you and sow seeds of injustice within your soul. He uses these hurts and wounds of the soul to detract you from your tasks at hand. The devil wants you to doubt God’s wisdom, love and power over life. Therefore, we must not be distracted by the accessory of the devil, but keep our eyes on fulfilling God’s mission.
Consider some of your recent conflicts: Why does God allow these to happen? What should your response be?
Dear Lord, I forgive those who has hurt me, and I release them from having to pay back what they have taken from me. I declare that they have no more influence over me, their hurtful words don’t matter to me anymore. I pray that You move the circumstances around them and cause them to realise and repent from the evil that they have done so that they may be blessed. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.