May 31, 2020
Originally Presented: August 17th, 2008
Scripture Reading: Romans 12:14-21
This passage in Romans goes against our natural (and sinful) response to people who wrong us. Our knee-jerk reaction to people who slander us or harm us in some way is to retaliate. Children retaliate by hitting the offender. In most cases adults retaliate by silence, withdrawal, gossip, withholding help or withholding compassion.
The commands of Romans 12:14-21 call us to respond to offenders in a way that is contrary to what our sinful hearts beckon us to do. These verses not only prohibit us from retaliating when we are wronged, but they command us to actively pursue doing good to the very people who wrong us. "Bless those who persecute you . . . If your enemy is hungry, feed him, and if he is thirsty, give him a drink . . . overcome evil with good" (Rom 12:14,20,21).
But the fact that our hearts cry out for justice does not necessarily rise from our wounded pride. This passage reasons with us to do good to those who wound us because if punishment is due to them, God, who is perfect in justice and holiness, will mete it out. The delineation between God and us is emphasized in Romans 12:19. Vengeance taken on sinners is a prerogative of the Almighty and we must not try to wield Christ's rightful authority. Taken to heart, these commands are quite liberating to our souls and keep us from destructive bitterness and joy-robbing hostility.