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.”
Bless our Persecutors
“Bless” means to “speak well of, praise,” but it also means to “confer what is beneficial,” and it means “to speak reason which confers benefit.” (https://biblehub.com/greek/2127.htm).
So, this is not saying that we should say what we don’t mean or what isn’t true in order to bless others. And this is not saying that we should speak well of or praise those who are deliberately and habitually sinning against us, either. I know nowhere in the Scriptures where they teach that we are to praise those who are living in deliberate and habitual sin and who are willfully doing harm to others.
But let me qualify that statement. We can say positive and kind things to people, even to those who persecute us, without giving false praise, without raising them above where they are so as to make them look better than what they are. And we can say kind things without sacrificing truth and righteousness. So, the truth, said in love, is the kindest thing to say.
For, we are to say to them what will be beneficial (useful, valuable, helpful) to them. And we are to speak reason (wisdom, discernment, logic, and good sense) to them. So, if we care about them, we are going to say to them what is going to help them to change who they are and how they are behaving, i.e. we will share the gospel of Jesus Christ with them.
Rejoice and Weep
Along those same lines of thinking, we don’t rejoice with evil but with the truth, and we don’t weep with people who are weeping over the fact that good is being done or that truth is going forth. So, our rejoicing and our weeping with others must be in line with God’s divine character and the things he rejoices over and the things he weeps over.
Especially in today’s world where everything is so confused and where good is being called evil and evil is being called good, and on social media we have so many memes which are making fun of and mocking people or blasting people just because they are not like us, and because they don’t think like us, we must be very careful that we don’t join in and end up rejoicing with evil and weeping because good is prevailing.
Harmony and Peace
Living in harmony with one another means that we are in agreement, that we are likeminded, that there is some unity among us with regard to faith, beliefs, practices, thinking, attitudes, values, and morals, etc. So, if we live in harmony with anyone else we need to make certain that person or those people are also in harmony with God and with the Scriptures (in context).
The same applies with regard to living peaceably with all, if possible, as far as it depends on us. We should never compromise truth and righteousness in order to make peace with anyone. We should never compromise God’s moral standards or his gospel truth or holy living so that we can live at peace with others. We must always be true to God first and foremost.
No matter who we are, no matter our walk with the Lord, there is never any reason for any of us to act as though we are superior to others or to be proud and arrogant of our spirituality. Always we should give all glory to God. For it is only by the grace of God that any of us have salvation from sin and eternal life with God.
But let me qualify that statement, too. Some people will accuse us of being self-righteous if we are teaching the truth of the gospel, if we are calling out sin, and calling people to repentance, and if we are teaching what the Scriptures teach with regard to holiness, righteousness, repentance, obedience, and submission to Jesus as Lord.
But just because we speak the truth of the Scriptures, and we call sin what it is, and we tell people what the Bible teaches about sin and the consequences of sin if we continue in deliberate and habitual sin against God, and we call them to repentance and to obedience, it doesn’t mean we are self-righteous. It just means we care about you.
No Getting Even
We are never to attempt to get even with people who have sinned against us. It is not our job to avenge them for their wrongdoing. That is God’s job. But this does not mean that we look the other way when we are sinned against, and that we do nothing, or that we don’t speak the truth in love, especially if the ones sinning against us claim to be fellow Christians.
For the Scriptures teach that if a brother or sister sins against us that we are to go to them to try to make it right, and if they refuse, we are to take others, and if they refuse them, we are to take it to the church. That is not getting even. That is a loving action to try to help them out of their sinful practices and for them to be able to walk in freedom from sin.
The Scriptures also teach about us confronting a fellow Christian about the sin he is caught in order to restore him, and about us exhorting one another daily so that none of us are hardened by sin’s deceitfulness, and that whoever turns a sinner from the error of his way or brings him back from his wandering will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins. So, speak the truth in love to one another (Gal 6:1; Heb 3:13; Jas 5:20).
If Your Enemy
An enemy is someone who is against us, who is opposed to who we are and to what we do. Some enemies may be opposed to what we stand for but they will be silent and just ignore us, or at least they won’t be nasty to us, while others may come against us strongly and in order to destroy us. But we are always to treat them kindly in return.
And again, it is not kind to lie to people. It is not blessing people if we lie to them or if we withhold the truth from them that they need to hear. All people need to hear the truth of the gospel because so many people are being led astray by lies that are intended to tickle their itching ears. Sometimes we will need to speak to people about their sin and sometimes with intensity, but that is still kindness if it is to rescue them.
So, doing kind things to our enemies should never involve compromise of truth and righteousness or of God’s moral standards or of his gospel truth. We should not join in with them in their ungodliness so that they will think we are being kind. Do what you are able to do to meet their physical needs, as needed, but don’t neglect their spiritual needs, for most of all they need Jesus. If they will not listen, don’t force it, but always act in a way towards your enemies that will glorify God and honor his name.
Warren D. Cornell, 1889 / William G. Cooper, 1889
Far away in the depths of my spirit tonight
Rings a melody sweeter than psalm;
And in heavenly strains it unceasingly falls
O’er my soul like an infinite calm.
What a treasure I have in this wonderful peace,
Buried deep in the heart of my soul,
So secure that no power can mine it away,
While the years of eternity roll!
I am resting tonight in this wonderful peace,
Resting sweetly in Jesus’ control;
For I’m kept from all danger by night and by day,
And His glory is flooding my soul!
And I think when I rise to that city of peace,
Where the author of peace I shall see,
That one strain of the song which the ransomed will sing
In that heavenly kingdom will be:
Peace, peace, wonderful peace,
Coming down from the Father above!
Sweep over my spirit forever, I pray
In fathomless billows of love!
O dear soul, are you here without comfort and rest,
Marching down the rough pathway of time?
Make Jesus your friend ere the shadows grow dark;
O accept now this peace so sublime!
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