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.(Romans 12:17-18, NIV)
Paul writes, “Do not repay anyone evil for evil.” Revenge! Bitterness! Our attitude can be a big problem when someone has hurt us. But what are we supposed to do when we are hurt by others? Well, Paul says we’re to do what is right. Be benevolent. Live harmoniously with those who do evil to us. That’s very hard to do, but with God’s help, we can live at peace. Empowered by the Holy Spirit, we can always do much more than we think we can.
Jesus told his followers about his Spirit, the forever helper: “And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever . . .” (John 14:16, ESV).
This forever helper enables us to repay evil with the fruit of the Holy Spirit. Think about that. It’s as if someone gave you manure and you gave them a pear or a mango. They exploded at you and you responded with love. They gossiped about you, yet you spoke kindly about and to them. You are resisting the urge to repay evil for evil.
Then Paul says, “If it is possible.” Is it always possible to live peaceably? Not always. The other person may not want to live at peace with you. But “as far as it depends on you,” you can give the gift of peace to them.
Do you have a “repayment program”? Think about your relational transactions. Do you just instinctively react to how others treat you or do you try to react “as far as it depends on you” with peace? What if, when you are slandered, you repay with praise? That’s hard to imagine, but it helps if you look at people through the Lord’s eyes—then you will see them the way God sees them. And God’s view is never fake. His view is the truth. And when we allow truth to guide us, difficult actions becomes a little easier.
Take your strained friendship, for example. What did Jesus do for your friend? He died for them, and was buried and rose to life for them. He sees their needs now and has compassion for them. Does this change anything for you?
Lord, help me to live at peace with everyone and see others through your eyes. Please, help me to repay evil with love whenever it’s at all possible. . . . Continue praying.