Posted May 13, 2013
17 Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. 18 If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. 19 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.”
These verses are a continuation from the last few weeks as Paul takes us on a journey of observing what a Christian life should look like as he alludes again to Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount.
Repay no one evil for evil.
There are no instances where evil should be an option! Has someone wronged you? As you rehearse the evil done to you, have you concocted the perfect vengeful response that would “put them in their place”? God has called you to refrain from such acts; revenge and retaliation are the marks of the world, not of the Christian.
Give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all.
Note that Paul doesn’t merely call us to do what is honorable, but also to “give thought” to it. Christians should not only spontaneously show acts of honor and goodness, but also should pre-meditate them. Where the world pre-meditates evil, so Christians should pre-meditate goodness. We ask for the Holy Spirit to lead our thoughts and lives as we do this.
If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.
Three observations within this. First, the caveat Paul offers regarding peace is an insightful one. Peaceful living doesn’t just involve one party, but two. Should the other party not be willing to do the same, we are not to be at fault, but rather willing to seek out peace. Unfortunately, until Christ’s return we will live in a world of broken relationships. Secondly, since God is the God of peace, we should seek out peace! Jesus Himself said, “Blessed are the peacemakers.” If kids look like their parents, we should look like our peace-making Father. Third and lastly, Paul does not put a limit to this peaceful living but applies it to all! We like to know the limits of such peaceful living (“Who is my neighbor?”), but God broadens this to all, including our enemies.
Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God.
What a beautiful first word: “Beloved”. Are you afflicted? Persecuted? That is not your chief identity; the primary identity of the Christian is as one who is loved by God (who in turn loves others). What an amazing truth! If we are God’s beloved, then we can trust Him to ultimately work all things for the good of those who love Him (Romans 8:28) and to bring about justice in His timing. God is not only a loving Father, but also a righteous Judge. Note that God’s wrath is still a reality; it did not suddenly disappear in the New Testament. God’s wrath was dealt with on the cross for those repent and put their trust in Christ, but it remains on those who haven’t (John 3:36). Vengeance & retribution is not ours to bring about, but rather we trust in God to do so in righteousness & justice. The perfect King will judge the world and bring everything into the light. This we can trust in.
This week’s song was written by Emery and Chris Clark, produced by Chris Clark, and artwork created by Kayla Sanders (http://www.kayla-sanders.com/). We have 2 design options you can pick from.