Jesus was perfect, and yet he had enemies. No matter how good and kind we may be as Christians, we too will have enemies. How should we act toward them? Paul answers in Romans chapter 12 verses 17-21.
Paul begins by saying, “Repay no one evil for evil” (12:17). David had the opportunity to take the life of the one who sought his life, but he left the matter in the hands of the Lord (1 Sam. 26:8-11, 17-25). Let us follow his example and heed the advice of the wise man. “Do not say, I will do to him just as he has done to me; I will render to the man according to his work” (Prov. 24:29).
Studying What Is Good For All
A good principle to follow is, “Have regard (to take thought for, provide) for good things in the sight of all men” (12:17). Paul was one wanting to provide “honorable things, not only in the sight of the Lord, but also in the sight of men” (2 Cor. 8:21).
Jesus had said, “Blessed are the peacemakers,” (Mt. 5:9). So, Paul encouraged the Roman Christians, “If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably will all men” (12:18).
Surrendering Them To God
“Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, Vengeance is Mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” (12:19) “Do not say, I will recompense evil; wait for the Lord, and He will save you” (Prov. 20:22). We dare not usurp the Lord’s right. When our enemies oppress us, let us remember “the Lord is the avenger of all” (1 Thess. 4:6).
The apostle next quotes from Proverbs 25:21-22. “Therefore if your enemy hungers, feed him; If he thirsts, give him a drink; For in so doing you will heap coals of fire on his head” (12:20). Jesus taught that we should love our enemies, do good to them, bless them, and pray for them (Lk. 6:27-36). This type of response is how we “heap coals of fire on his head.”
“Do not overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good” (12:21). What does it accomplish for us to return evil for evil? We would just be lowering ourselves to the same level as our enemies. Instead, the way of victory over evil is by doing good. Jesus could have called down twelve legion of angels on His enemies (Mt. 26:53). Instead, He prayed for their forgiveness (Lk. 23:34).
Conclusion: “You have heard that it hath been said, You shall love your neighbor, and hate thine enemy. But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which spitefully use you, and persecute you; That you may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he makes his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. For if you love them which love you, what reward have you? do not even the publicans the same? And if you salute your brethren only, what do you more than others? do not even the publicans so? Be you therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect (Mt 5:43-48). How peaceful the world would be if these words were followed by everyone! How many church dissensions and divisions could be avoided if these words were followed by all of God’s people! Let each of us resolve in our hearts to put these words into practice.