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. – Romans 12: 14-18
When asked about the importance of the Law, Jesus summed up the commandments with two basic perspectives. Love God. Love Others.
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. Maybe it is someone you work with or a neighbor or even someone in your family, but both Jesus and Paul tell us to love our enemies and we are to do our best to live peaceably with everyone.
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. To 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?
Jesus told us in John 13:35 that other people will take notice of our faith by how we love one another. 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 me and end on the outside of my life and this continually refers me back to concept of surrendering my life everyday. Romans 12: 21 tells us to “not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”