Thursday, 21 November 2013
Repay no one evil for evil. Have regard for good things in the sight of all men. Romans 12:17
What a difficult thing this verse asks! “Repay no one evil for evil” equates to “turn the other cheek.” For a good analysis of this directly from Jesus, refer to Matthew 5:38-48. As this is a part of Paul’s prescriptive writings, these words are intended to be followed despite being contrary to our normal human nature. By staying in the word, fellowshipping with others, talking to the Lord continuously, and praying without ceasing, this high and lofty goal can be attained. But with the distractions in the world, constantly tugging at us from every direction, it truly is a difficult task. In the end, repaying evil for evil is simply producing a second evil. If the first evil was wrong, a second one doesn’t make the first right; it only adds to the evil.
Next we are told to, “Have regard for good things in the sight of all men.” This thought comes from Proverbs 3:3, 4 –
“Let not mercy and truth forsake you;
Bind them around your neck,
Write them on the tablet of your heart,
And so find favor and high esteem
In the sight of God and man.”
By living with mercy and truth as lamps on our path, we will be able to use them when strangers step in our way. When they look to harm, we should return with peace. When they bring a curse, we should utter forth a blessing. And should they refuse our graces, we should be ready and willing to offer a second helping. By writing them now on the tablet of our hearts, we will be prepared in advance when the calling comes.
It should be noted that to “have regard” for good things is not speaking of what man determines is good. The thing man determines is good is a bad standard to rely on. Rather, we are to have regard for good things which are noted in Scripture and to have that regard “in the sight of all men.” They are to see our conduct toward that which is truly good. And the intention of the term “in the sight of all men” is that we are to apply this precept at all times and in all places. In other words, we’re not to act rightly just when men are watching, but as if men are always watching.
Life application: Repaying evil for evil can only lead to an unhappy result. Even if we think we obtained the upper hand, in end we will always reap a negative reward. And that negative reward may only come when we stand before the Lord. It is incumbent on us to live without acting in revenge. As hard as this is to accomplish, it is the right avenue for peace in this life and favor from the Lord at our judgment.
Jesus, You have asked me to turn the other cheek and to not repay evil with evil. It is an extremely high calling for a person like me. It is in my fiber to come back with punches, but You would have me return with blessings instead – even a kiss of love. Help me to fulfill this that You will be glorified and I will have a life of peace and favor from You. Thank You Lord. Amen.