Romans 12: 17-21: Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord. On the contrary:
“If your enemy is hungry, feed him;
if he is thirsty, give him something to drink.
In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.”
Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
Is there someone that you know, that is so filled with hate and anger that you find it difficult to be around them? You may have attempted to talk with them but that only makes the situation worse. You try to reason with them but all they want to do is call you names, get in your face, raise their voice and act completely out of control. As a follower of Christ, how do you respond to someone like that?
As usual, the Bible gives us specific instructions on how to deal with these types of people. It is encouraging to me that we only have to look to the Bible for help in dealing with the daily challenges of life. It is important that we know scripture so that we can use it to live out our faith in the manner that God desires. Knowing the Word is only part of our responsibility. As followers of Christ, we must live out what scripture teaches us. God will ultimately judge us on how well we followed His revealed Word. We can say to the world that we are believers but our actions and the manner in which we respond to others will reveal our true nature. Will others see us as a follower of Christ? More importantly, will God see us as a faithful follower of Christ?
In the Book of Romans, the Apostle Paul writes to the church in Rome on this very subject. Paul is teaching that we are not to “repay anyone evil for evil.” He writes that, “as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.” The key phrase for me is, “as far as it depends on you.” We only have control over our actions and our response. As followers of Christ, we must forgive, not seek revenge, and let go of any anger and bitterness.
What are we as Christians to do when faced with attacks from others?
1) Pray for them. I believe that the most important weapon that we have available to us is prayer. We are to pray for forgiveness for ourselves and for those that are “attacking” us. We are not to judge because God will ultimately judge and repay accordingly.
2) Do not seek revenge. As followers of Christ, we are to forgive and hand over to God any feelings of revenge or animosity that may linger within us.
3) Do not be overcome with evil. As we turn those feelings of anger and hostility over to God, we are releasing the temptation to respond with evil. We are following God’s Word by responding in a Christ-like manner. It is often very tempting to respond to evil with evil. That is not what God’s Word teaches us and if we are a follower of Christ we must not react in this manner.
4) Overcome evil with good. By overcoming evil with good, God can use our response to actually bring about repentance in those who attack us. Evil does not know how to respond to kindness. So by overcoming evil with good, we may possibly bring healing and penitence to those that are filled with anger and hate.
Several years ago I remember hearing someone say, “Don’t ever stop doing what is right. No matter how you are treated or talked about, don’t ever stop doing what is right.” I have often reflected on that statement when faced with how to respond to evil and anger filled people. As believers we must continue to do what is right. We must resist the temptation to answer with the hateful responses that the evil one whispers in our ear. Satan tempts us to answer evil with evil, to respond in a hateful manner, to exact revenge on those who want to do harm to us. As followers of Christ, our response to that evil will define who we are in Christ.
If you are faced with a situation like this, I encourage you to continue to do the right thing. Respond in a Christlike manner to those who are filled with anger and animosity. Take heart in the fact that you will be rewarded for repaying evil with good. God’s Word gives us hope this day about what our reward will be for the many insults and trials that we must bear. That word of hope comes from 1 Peter 4: 13-14 (ESV): But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed. If you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you.