Read: Romans 12: 14-18
Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be conceited. Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.
I remember teaching on this passage some time ago. Afterward, a young lady in the group told me how this passage had changed her attitude toward her immediate supervisor at work.
Then, this morning I heard Dick Foth make this statement during his sermon this weekend at National Community Church in D.C. –
“Loving Our Enemies is Our Way of Becoming Free from Our Enemies”
In light of the tensions we are facing in our country, it may be easier to pay lip service to love than to actually love others in a practical way. Some people are difficult to love – especially if they have intentions to cause us harm. I don’t know about you, but I know my tendencies to take control in such a situation. It doesn’t turn out well. While I tend to confront, Paul gives us very specific and counterintuitive actions to take in the face of adversity:
We are to rejoice with our enemy. We are to feel compassion for them. We are to forgive them. Verse seventeen tells us to never repay evil for evil, so revenge is not an option. On the contrary, we are to feed our enemies if they are hungry. We are to give him a drink if he is thirsty. How easy is all of this for you? It is not easy for me.
Jesus told us that other people will take notice of our faith by how we love one another (John 13:35). Paul places love at the top of his list of spiritual fruit. So, how else can we respond?
In order to live this kind of real-life love, a supernatural work must begin inside of us (me) and end on the outside of our lives and this continually refers us back to the concept of surrendering our lives every day. Romans 12: 21 tells us to “not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”
It requires both a conscious decision on our part and total reliance on Christ and it is possible, even in the most difficult situations. It is a lesson I need to learn each day.