Tuesday, 29 August 2017
See that no one renders evil for evil to anyone, but always pursue what is good both for yourselves and for all.
1 Thessalonians 5:15
The words of this verse are plain, simple to understand, and without any ambiguity or vagueness. He begins with “See that no one renders evil for evil to anyone.” It is human nature to want to seek retribution, especially when someone renders evil towards us. We want judgment on their actions, and we want it immediately. Further, we want to execute that supposed judgment at least in kind, and possibly in a more stringent manner than it was rendered to us. But the word instructs us otherwise.
When evil is brought against us, we are asked to not turn around and act in a like manner. The word translated as “evil” is correct. It signifies evil in a broad sense. Returning evil for evil only produces more evil. It does nothing which will produce holiness. And Paul doesn’t just expect this toward believers, but “to anyone.” Our withholding of rendering evil includes all. It is a giant exhortation for us to follow, but it is a part of the word.
Next he contrasts the thought with, “but always pursue what is good.” This shows that rendering evil for evil is by nature wrong. In pursuing such an avenue we are, by default, pursuing evil. Paul asks us to instead pursue that which is moral, upright, and honoring of the Lord. Again, this is often a really hard thing to do in this life, but this is what is asked of us. And again, he notes “both for yourselves and for all.”
Certainly, Paul has included this thought to show that our attitude is not to be one way among believers, and then another way among non believers. This may be the hardest part of all. Unbelievers often persecute those in the church in amazingly perverse ways. However, we are to conduct ourselves in a moral manner even towards them, placing them on the same level as those with whom we stand in agreement about our faith.
Life application: In today’s world, it is incredibly easy to return evil for evil to people via electronic means. We no longer have to look someone in the eyes in order to act this way. We can send out angry words laced with poison, and feel unashamed at doing so. But the modern world doesn’t exclude this ancient precept. It is as binding today as when Paul wrote it. Let us be careful to act morally, and honoring of the Lord, at all times.
Lord God, it is a very easy thing to tear others apart after they have attacked us. This is especially so nowadays. We don’t even have to see their faces. We can do it with our fingertips, rendering evil for evil. Help us to apply Your word to our lives and to not act in such a way. You have instructed us to always pursue what is good. It is often difficult, but we would pray for Your help in this so that we may honor You. And so do help us, O Lord. Amen.