Ro 12:17 Repay no one evil for evil. Have regard for good things in the sight of all men.
How shall we then live? As redeemed children of God, what do our behavior standards look like? That’s what we have been talking about in chapter 12. You may think that we are moving far too slow through this material, but I look around at my own life and the church in general, and I see these things lacking, therefore we must explore them.
Our spirit must understand these things so we can cooperate with the Holy Spirit in doing these things. We must understand what our Father expects from us. We must stop glossing over these things and pause to consider, is this how we are really living? Or are we doing something else?
The first thing we see in our text is that we are to repay no one evil for evil. Underline the words “no one,” because that takes our behavior outside the confines of our Christian family and into the world. We are not to be in the business of dispensing evil.....no matter what!
The Christian must not attempt to play God and avenge himself. That’s the way of the world, but as a child of God we are to live at a higher level. We must return good no matter what! What? That’s crazy pastor! Yes it is, but you know what’s even crazier? God so loving the world, good or bad that He gave His only begotten Son to die for it.
Where would you be if God had your attitude about giving people what they deserve?
Returning good for evil requires supernatural help, supernatural love for your fellow man, and it also requires faith. By doing good instead of evil, we are believing that God can work and accomplish His will in our lives and the lives of those who hurt us. We’re leaving it up to God and that’s faith!
Warren Wiersbe tells the story of a preacher friend of his who was publicly attacked on the radio by another preacher with unkind and untrue words. His friend planned to fight back, but a godly preacher told him, “Don’t do it! If you decide to defend yourself, then the Lord can’t defend you, leave it in His hands.
The preacher followed that advice and sure enough, he was vindicated. Very few things reflect as poorly or damage the Christian witness more than when we try to take matters into our own hands and repay evil for evil. Vengeance is mine says the Lord and He means it!
Do you really think you can avenge better than God?
In the Book of Esther we have a great example of God’s style of vindication. Remember the account?
There is a king name Ahasuerus (Uh has’er us) A young Jewish woman named Esther, her uncle Mordecai, and a prince named Haman. No one knew that Esther was a Jew except her uncle. One day Uncle Mordecai overheard of a plot to kill the king.
He told the proper authorities and the plotters were executed and it was duly noted in the record books of the king. (Remember that detail)
Now the king had ordered all people to bow to his right hand man Haman, but Mordecai being a Jew could not bow to anyone but the Lord his God, so he refused to bow. This made Haman furious, but rather than going after Mordecai, he convinced the king that all Jews needed to be destroyed and so a decree went out to do just that. The Jews were to be destroyed on the thirteenth day of the twelfth month.
Thanks for the warning!
When Mordecai heard of it, he tore his garments and put on sackcloth and ashes. Word of the plot got to Esther and she knew she had to do something about it. SO she requested a banquet be held for herself, the king, and Haman.
Well when Haman heard of this great honor he went home with great joy, what a great day at work! (well until he walked past the gate and saw Mordecai who still refused to bow to him) Nevertheless, he restrained himself, he knew Mordecai was going to get his!
When he got home he called his wife and friends together just to tell them what a great day he had and how great things had been going for him at work! How he had found great favor with the king and had been promoted to second in command,. People bowing down to him, blah, blah blah.
And to top all that off, today he alone was invited to a special banquet with the king and queen! (Then he gave himself a little license to grumble as he brought up Mordecai again.) He said, “all this avails me nothing as long as I see Mordecai the Jew sitting at the kings gate.”
Well his wife and friends had a great idea. They said, “why don’t you have a gallows constructed in the morning, and then suggest to the king that this Mordecai fellow be hanged and done with once and for all! Then go merrily to the banquet. Oh Haman loved that idea, so he had the gallows made.
That night the king couldn’t sleep. So he asked that the record book be brought to him. (That ought to put anyone to sleep!) Wouldn’t you know it, he gets to the part where Mordecai alerted the authorities to the plot to take the kings life. He asks, “what kind of honor or dignity has been bestowed upon Mordecai for saving my life?
“Nothing your highness.”
Just then, Haman arrives with his great plan to hang Mordecai on the gallows that he had constructed. But before he can reveal the plan the kings speaks and asks Haman:.
“What shall be done for the man whom the king delights to honor?” Well you know what Haman was thinking? Quote, “Now Haman thought in his heart, “Whom would the king delight to honor more than me?” I’m sure he could hardly wait for the banquet!
So Haman said, “Let a royal robe be brought which the king has worn, and a horse on which the king has ridden, which has a royal crest placed on it’s head. Then, let this robe and horse be delivered to the hand of one of the kings most noble princes that he may array the man whom the king delights to honor.
Then parade him on horseback through the city square and proclaim before him; Thus shall be done to the man whom the king delights to honor!”
Oh, the king loved it! And He said Hasten! Hasten Haman, take the robe and the horse as you have suggested. (How do you think Haman felt at this point? He probably needed a robe because his britches had burst!...but I’m sorry, I interrupted the king in mid sentence.
Take the robe and the horse as you have suggested and do so for Mordecai the Jew who sits within the king’s gate. leave nothing undone of all that you have spoken.” So Haman did just as he was instructed.
After the mini parade Mordecai went back to the kings gate and Haman went home and probably kicked the dog. We read he hastened to his house mourning and with his head covered.. While he was complaining to his wife about all this, his ride for the banquet showed up.
On the second day of the banquet things were going well, the king was pleased and asked Esther if there was anything he could do for her. She said, yes please. Would you spare me and my people for we have been sold out to be annihilated.
And the king said “who is he and where is he who would dare presume in his heart to do such a thing. And Esther said, it is Haman. The king got up and left the banquet, he was furious, but Haman saw that he was in trouble and so he stood before the Queen pleading for his life.
Just as the king was returning to the banquet room, Haman in his great distress had fallen on the couch with the queen....that’s what the king saw.....and he said, “Will he also assault the queen while I am in the house? And Haman was arrested and one of the eunichs said, Look, the gallows which Haman made for Mordecai, who spoke good on the kings behalf are available! And the king said, hang him on it.
The king rescinded his order to execute the Jews, and Mordecai became the second in command.
Now do you still think that you can avenge better than God? Do you think your puny attempts to get even with someone can match the poetic justice of God? My friend, get out of the way. Do good and let God take care of the vengeance!
God’s vengeance is always perfect and just, our part is simply to remain obedient to Him, loving our enemies, and having the faith that God will take care of them in His way and in His time.
Next, as children of the heavenly Father, we are to “Have regard for good things in the sight of all men” You know what? This is one of those phrases in Scripture that must be difficult to translate. For instance the King James reads, “Provide things honest in the sight of all men.” The NIV says, “Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everybody.” Still another transliteration says, ‘Do things in such a way that everyone can see you are honest clear through.”
As I looked at the Greek word for provide here, it means to look out beforehand, to plan ahead. That’s what we do when we stock up on groceries or “provisions.” We are anticipating our needs beforehand.
“Things honest” are defined as things of beauty, things of value, things of virtue. Using these definitions we get a better picture of what our Father is expecting of us. We are to make provision in our lives for beautiful, valuable, and virtuous things.
We are to plan ahead or make provision to exhibit these things or bestow them upon ALL men. Now that tells me, this is something we have to work on ahead of time. You don’t make out a grocery list as you roll the cart through the store. The list is done at home in a thoughtful manner where inventory can be taken.
Needs and wants can be discerned, then weighed against the family grocery budget.
This one phrase then, placed right in the middle of the admonition to live peaceably with all men, and to not repay evil for evil, tells me to look for ways, to provide beauty, value, and virtue for my enemies.
Before we tackle our enemies with love and goodness we need to take inventory, to assess their needs and then provide them in a beautiful, good, and virtuous way. Rather than seeking clever ways to get back at your enemies, pray that God would show you creative ways to bless them.
Pray that He would show us how to overcome evil with good. He is an expert at this......after all, it’s how Jesus overcame evil, why should we be any different?
Do you have someone in your circle of acquaintance who hates your guts? Someone who goes out of their way to make you miserable? Someone who has wronged you and could care less? Someone who hates you and your “Christianity” Oh, you’re one of them “born agains!”
You have a choice. You can lash back at them with angry words or letters. You can destroy them with words around the water cooler or among family and friends, or you can do what God wants His children to do.
Creatively bless them. Trouble thinking of ways to do that? No problem. Go to James 1:5, “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to Him.”
When we ask God for wisdom, we aren’t necessarily asking Him for smarts. We are asking Him to show us how to live in given situations. Lord, how should I react to this person who is a real thorn in my side? How can I creatively bless them? Then wait for an answer.
If there is none forthcoming the problem is likely your attitude. You haven’t fully committed to this plan of action. It just rubs you the wrong way. James continues:
“But let him ask in faith with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind. For let not that man suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord he is a double minded man unstable in all his ways.”
You see, the answer is withheld because you waver between two opinions. You really don’t want to give up your vendetta. But God is patient and if you are willing He’ll get you to where you need to be.
Who knows? By doing good to your enemy, you just may win them to Christ, if not, well then God will have at them with His perfect justice. It’s win win for you either way!
My friends, do not repay evil for evil but look for creative ways to bless your enemies.