Our Changed Relationship to Our Enemies Romans II Series  Romans 12:17-21
GOSPEL-LIVING: OUR CHANGED RELATIONSHIPS 12:1-2Our Changed Relationship to God [= consecrated body and renewed mind] 12:3-8Our Changed Relationship to Ourselves [= sober judgment on using spiritual gifts] 12:9-16Our Changed Relationship to One Another [= sincere love in the family of God] 12:17-21Our Changed Relationship to Our Enemies [= overcoming evil with good]
HOW SHOULD WE RESPOND TO OUR ENEMIES IN LOVE? Some preliminary thoughts about this text: Who are our “enemies”? We may have enemies who have hated us always (because of a cause/movement/loyalty). But more often, our enemies are close people who have hurt us—i.e., they are among friends, family/relatives, colleagues/bosses, next-door neighbors, etc. Twofold Commands: Each command is twofold with what NOT to do [negatively] and what to DO [positively]. Allusion & Echo: Paul’s teaching here is an allusion to Jesus’ well-known teaching on loving our enemies. [the Sermon on the Mount]
HOW SHOULD WE RESPOND TO OUR ENEMIES IN LOVE? 1)Do NOT repay anyone evil for evil—Do what is right/ honorable (vs.17-18). “17Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all.18If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.” (vs.17-18) 38 “You have heard that it was said, 'Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.' 39But I tell you, Do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also.” Matthew 5:38-39
HOW SHOULD WE RESPOND TO OUR ENEMIES IN LOVE? 1)Do NOT repay anyone evil for evil—Do what is right/ honorable (vs.17-18). Why should not we repay anyone evil for evil? It doubles evil, fuels hate, and escalates the vicious cycle. Instead, we are to do what is right/honorable— “in the sight of all” [not just in my perspective];  it requires us to “give thought” [= think before act]. * NOTE: the command is NOT to FEEL but DO! Doing what is right includes  blessing not cursing (v.14) and  living peacefully with all, if possible [= as long as it depends on us]. How? We need to learn to deal with our anger and bitterness in a constructive way—i.e., forgiving, confessing, loving-confrontation, etc.
HOW SHOULD WE RESPOND TO OUR ENEMIES IN LOVE? 2)Do NOT take revenge—Do good to your enemies, leaving it to the wrath of God (vs.19-20). “19Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, ‘Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.’ 20To the contrary, ‘if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.’” (vs.19-20) 27But I tell you who hear me: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, 28bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. Luke 6:27-28
HOW SHOULD WE RESPOND TO OUR ENEMIES IN LOVE? 2)Do NOT take revenge—Do good to your enemies, leaving it to the wrath of God (vs.19-20). Why should never avenge ourselves?  Our understanding is limited & often skewed;  God’s judgment & vengeance is the perfect equalizer for all evil;  we are also sinful who needs God’s mercy desperately. Instead, we are to DO GOOD to our enemies, leaving our vengeance to the wrath of God—it means serving them with mercy and benevolence. “Heap burning coals on his head”: Two interpretations:  To put them ashamed and repentant about their evil deeds;  To incur more severe punishment. How? Ultimately, it is a value issue—we are to go against the current of the culture, choosing what is seemingly foolish— the way of the cross!
HOW SHOULD WE RESPOND TO OUR ENEMIES IN LOVE? 3)Do NOT be overcome by evil—Do overcome evil with good (v.21). “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” (v.21) Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult, but with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing. 1Peter 3:9
HOW SHOULD WE RESPOND TO OUR ENEMIES IN LOVE? 3)Do NOT be overcome by evil—Do overcome evil with good (v.21). The key reason to never repay evil with evil and to never avenge ourselves is that in so doing, we are overcome by evil. What does it mean by being overcome by evil? It means that we give into its rule reigning over us; we become evil ourselves [more & more]. So, our ultimate enemy is NOT sinful people who hurt us but EVIL and the EVIL ONE. How? The only way is to overcome evil is to fight with good. Love is the only weapon that defeats evil in our enemies.
The Way of the Cross In all our thinking and living it is important to keep the negative and positive counterparts together. Both are good. It is good never to retaliate, because if we repay evil for evil, we double it, adding a second evil to the first, and so increasing the tally of evil in the world. It is even better to be positive, to bless, to do good, to seek peace, and to serve and covert our enemy, because if we thus repay good for evil, we reduce the tally of evil in the world, while at the same time increasing the tally of good. To repay evil for evil is to be overcome by it; to repay good for evil is to overcome evil with good. This is the way of the cross. “Such is the masterpiece of love.” - John R. W. Stott
PRACTICAL IMPLICATIONS FOR OUR EVERYDAY LIFE 1.Surrender YOUR ANGER AND VENGEANCE to God. Do not take issues yourself by retaliation and revenge. Get rid of your toxic anger by forgiving, confessing, and lovingly-confronting. 2.Do good to your enemies by trusting in GOD’S JUSTICE AND VINDICATION for you. Trust that God is just and perfect in vindicating us at the judgment day. Practice goodwill to your enemies and serve them with benevolence. 3.Overcome EVIL WITH GOOD—refuse to give in to evil. Be wise and discerning in dealing with evil. Choose the way of the Crosss!
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