Overcome Evil with Good!
The last five verses of Romans chapter 12 are not the easiest to always get right as a believer. Sometimes applying these five verses to daily life, especially when we have been wronged, is not as forthcoming as we would like. Anger from having been wronged wins out which leads to some form of payback, and yeah, I suppose a resentment that grows into a cold shoulder is a form of revenge. In that light, so is that finger thrust into the windshield when we get cut off in traffic.
For me, applying these verses sometimes feels like having to get up at four am, on a cold January morning and drive half-way to work while the car refuses to heat up. Even praying for God to take the anger away is a lot like having my hand up to the vent in that space of time where I’m not sure if the heat is blowing or if my hand has just gone numb. It’s like, “I am still pretty angry, God. I think I may be getting over it, not really sure. Wish you would just take the anger from me. Is this prayer even working?” Only I can’t bang on the prayer like I would the heat vent, as if that ever made the heat suddenly work, either
I know I have fallen short of living up to these verses. Romans 12:17 (NASB), flat out says, “Never pay back evil for evil.” That tells me that when I have been wronged, as much as the sinfulness in me wants to lash out at the person with sarcasm, gossip, or just pettiness, I am not supposed to pay them back for that. Period. In fact, we are encouraged in verse 18, where it rests on us—the believer—to live in peace with all men. Just when the sinfulness in me wants to loop-hole the crap out of that, Paul’s like, “I see what you’re going to want to do right here…” and then he drops the whole “Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath of God.”
Now, where Paul ultimately takes this is really uncomfortable to me. Feeding your enemy, giving your enemy a drink if they are thirsty—I’d rather you just be mean to me. I can process that. I may not process it well but at least that makes sense to the sinfulness that dwells within this flesh holding me. Being kind, showing forgiveness and actually being mercy, I have witnessed and experienced it a few times in my life and it is just plain uncomfortable. My defense mechanisms don’t know what to do with that. Especially when it is the genuine sort of forgiving kindness. It’s having experienced those moments where I have legitimately asked, “Why are you being nice to me?” that I have seen in followers of Christ what the Samaritan woman must have experienced and seen with Christ at the well: genuine loving-kindness. As uncomfortable as it is, it is certainly something that leaves a lasting impression.
Where are we missing the mark on what it means to be followers of God and overcoming evil with good? In what ways might you not be leaving room for God? How often do we interpret leave room for the wrath of God as: so long as it isn’t me doing the pay back, it’s all good?
Until Next Time,