The Lord God said in various places that vengeance belongs to Him. It is not for us to seek to avenge ourselves but rather to leave vengeance to the wrath of God.
If you are a Christian and have been for any length of time, you will certainly have suffered at the hands of someone who stands opposed to what you believe in. We are told that all those who choose to live a godly life will be persecuted. So if you have not been persecuted yet, be assured that the time is coming when you will.
The challenge for us though, is to live our lives appropriately to the call of Jesus Christ. He gave us the perfect example of how we should live and the attitudes we should take in all situations, especially when we are being persecuted or suffering at the hands of someone else.
In these verses we see another important instruction regarding this part of our life in Christ Jesus as we walk the Christian way.
Payback and Retaliation
The first part of this verse tells us,
“Repay no one evil for evil…”
In a nutshell we must learn tolerance. Payback in kind is not ours to give. Retaliation for a wrong done against us by doing the same back to them is not something we should even consider.
We are being trained for the kingdom of God and how to live in a manner that is pleasing to God. In the end we are being groomed to enter God's eternal kingdom where we will all live together with God the Father and Jesus Christ. But first we must learn how to live together with one another.
When you suffer evil from someone, and it WILL be happen, your response should not be to fight back using the same tactics and evil used against you. Your response should be to learn how to conciliate. Your response needs to be to hold fast to your peace that you have in Jesus Christ, recognizing that if there is judgement required and some retaliation necessary, it will come from the Lord God, and it will be meted out with the correct justice.
When we retaliate and seek payback for a wrong done against us we are judging that other person or people and then seeking to execute our judgement against them. When we do that we are no longer a victim but a judge. And judgement does not belong to us. Judgement sits with God. If we take it upon ourselves to judge and execute judgement on others, the. We need to also remember the scripture that says,
1 “Judge not, that you be not judged. 2 For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you. (Matthew 7:1-2)
When we cast judgement on others we bring judgement on ourselves as well. When we seek evil against others and seek to repay evil for evil, we bring evil upon ourselves.
Does this sound like the way of God or the ways of man? It is the way of man to judge harshly when slighted and it is the way of man to seek retribution for wrongs, real or perceived. Do not do that! Leave it to the wrath of God for He will judge justly and ensure that what is appropriate and rightin the situation occurs.
What is honorable
Instead we are told in the second part of this ver to…
“…give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all.” Romans 12:17
Instead of seeking out evil in repayment for evil done to or against you, seek out what is honorable.
It is more honorable to take the high moral ground and do what is right in the sight of God when you are wronged than it is to fight back. It is more honorable to seek the good in a bad situation. It is more honorable to seek to help your enemies, even if that means only that you pray for them.
Philippians 4 tells us to think about what is honorable. It says,
Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. (Philippians 4:8)
To think about what is honorable is to find the good, the morality, the lessons and so on in a bad situation. It is about looking for and finding the blessings in all situations and remembering to hold fast to the truth by acting in accordance with the word of God, especially when you are persecuted for His name's sake.
We must understand too that we are living examples of the life of Jesus Christ. Our lives are testimonies of our faith and the belief we have in God and Jesus Christ. Thus we need to ensure we behave in a manner befitting people who call themselves Christians. And as such we seek not just to be honorable amongst our brothers and sisters, but also to the rest of the world, as Paul showed,
for we aim at what is honorable not only in the Lord's sight but also in the sight of man. (2 Corinthians 8:21)
The apostle Peter also spoke about the need for conducting our lives with honor, especially when we are dealing with people outside the church. He said,
Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation. (1 Peter 2:12)
Our aim is to please God and we do that by seeking out what is honorable. When we please God we honor and glorify Him and people see that we act in honorable ways. They will see that when people speak against Christians, they do so out of envy or jealousy or with a will to do evil against us that is not justified. And others will take notice and recognize the poor treatment meted out to those who live honorably.
So if we are going to live as children of God then we must learn the lesson of this verse. Seek not to repay evil for evil, but instead learn what is honorable in every situation, especially when you are being persecuted, and seek the glory of aGod by focussing on what is honorable, not what tends to judgement and evil.
Judgement belongs to God and a he has promised to avenge all wrongs saying,
30 For we know him who said, “Vengeance is mine; I will repay.” And again, “The Lord will judge his people.” 31 It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God. (Hebrews 10:30-31)
So do not take matters into your own hands but leave it to the will and the wrath of God. As children of God learn instead to walk in peace and in the love of God and to treat others as you would seek to be treated.
(Photo sourced from freeimages.com provided by Andras Kovacs
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