Peacekeeping and Pacifying or Persecution

Romans 12:14-21 ESV

“Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight. Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. 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.’ 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.’ Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”

In Harmony and Peace

We are to rejoice with those who rejoice and weep with those who weep, but this is not a statement with a broad brush that covers all things which people may rejoice or weep over.

For, if they rejoice over what is evil, or if they find joy in their sin or in hurting others, we are not to rejoice in that. And we are not to weep with them if they are crying about having to do what is right or if they are moaning over true justice and righteousness prevailing.

For, love “does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth” (1 Co 13:6 NASB).

On a similar note, we are to live in harmony with one another. And, if possible, so far as it depends on us, we are to live peaceably with all.

But harmony means agreement. It involves some kind of conformity or cooperation or consensus. And peaceably means without resistance, or absence of conflict, neutral, yielding, and non-confrontational. And we are never to live in agreement with sin nor to conform to the ways of this sinful world nor to cooperate with what is evil and immoral.

And we are never to live without resistance to evil nor in a state of yielding to what we know is wrong just so we are at peace with others. And we are never to avoid conflict if avoiding conflict means compromising truth and righteousness. And we are never to be neutral with regard to good and evil, and right and wrong, but we are to take a stand on the side of holiness.

So, we live in harmony with those who are in harmony with God, which may not include everyone who professes faith in Jesus Christ. For, many people profess faith who do not walk in that faith at all but who are still walking in unrighteousness, still regularly and deliberately yielding to the passions of their sinful flesh. We are not to be in harmony with them.

And we live at peace with God first and foremost and then only at peace with others who are also at peace with God or who are not openly defying God and his will and purpose for our lives. For, we are to never compromise truth or morals to be at peace with others, and we are to never refuse to share the gospel in its fulness in order to make peace with others, either.

Those Who Persecute You

If we are followers of Jesus Christ, who is our enemy? Our enemy is Satan (Lucifer, the devil, the dragon). But we will have human enemies, too, who will oppose us, attack us, work against us, persecute us, and/or who will wish and/or work us harm because we are following Jesus Christ with our lives, and because of our testimony for Him and for His gospel.

They may lay traps for us to try to trip us up with our words, just like the Pharisees did to Jesus. Or they may lie about us, falsely accusing us of intentions or motives that are not ours or of teaching a false gospel of salvation just because we teach obedience of faith and repentance and submission to Jesus Christ as Lord (owner-master) of our lives.

They may spread rumors about us which are not true in hopes to turn others against us so that they will not listen to us. Or they may accuse us of being hyper-religious, legalistic, unloving, unkind, judgmental, and hypocritical, because we are teaching that we must forsake our sins to follow Jesus in obedience, and that if we don’t, we won’t have eternal life with God.

Although they may try to destroy our lives and our reputations, we are to wish them no evil in return, and we are not to do evil to them, for it is God’s job to avenge, not ours. Instead we are to bless them. We are to do good to them and pray for them and say to them what is beneficial for them, which is what will be for their ultimate good as God determines “good.”

So, even though our enemies may come against us to do us ill, we are not to get even with them, but we are to demonstrate much love and grace to them. So, if they are in need, if we are able, we should seek the Lord regarding how we might minister to them in their time of need. For we are not to be overcome by evil, but we are to overcome evil with good.

And what we do and what we say and how we respond to our enemies must not come from our own flesh or from earthly wisdom, but it must come from the love and the wisdom of God. Thus, we will not coddle our enemies in their sins, but we will speak the truth in love to them in hopes that they will turn from their sin and in hopes that they will follow Jesus with their lives.

[Matt 5:10-12; Matt 10:16-25; Matt 23:34; Matt 24:9-14; Lu 6:22-23; Lu 21:12-17; Jn 15:18-21; Jn 17:14; 1 Co 4:12; 1 Jn 3:13; 2 Tim 3:12; Lu 9:23-26; Rom 6:1-23; Rom 8:1-17; Eph 4:17-24; 1 Jn 1:5-9; 1 Jn 2:3-6]

Oh, to Be Like Thee, Blessed Redeemer

Lyrics by Thomas O. Chisholm, 1897
Music by W. J. Kirkpatrick, 1897

Oh, to be like Thee! blessèd Redeemer,
This is my constant longing and prayer;
Gladly I’ll forfeit all of earth’s treasures,
Jesus, Thy perfect likeness to wear.

Oh, to be like Thee! full of compassion,
Loving, forgiving, tender and kind,
Helping the helpless, cheering the fainting,
Seeking the wandering sinner to find.

O to be like Thee! lowly in spirit,
Holy and harmless, patient and brave;
Meekly enduring cruel reproaches,
Willing to suffer others to save.

O to be like Thee! while I am pleading,
Pour out Thy Spirit, fill with Thy love;
Make me a temple meet for Thy dwelling,
Fit me for life and Heaven above.

Oh, to be like Thee! Oh, to be like Thee,
Blessèd Redeemer, pure as Thou art;
Come in Thy sweetness, come in Thy fullness;
Stamp Thine own image deep on my heart.

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