Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves. Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.
Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited.
Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay, says the Lord. On the contrary:
“If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink.
In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good
In this passage, Paul lays out a number of very practical rules for Christian living, much as he does in other books such as Galatians and Ephesians. In this passage, we are called to demonstrate our faith by not only loving our brothers and sisters, but by living out our faith in the face of those who would call us their enemy. Paul tells us to not repay evil for evil.
That is the way of the world, that is, to repay good for good, and evil for evil. The way of Satan is to pay evil for good, for his goal is to knock down those who would do good for the sake of right. We are challenged by Paul to feed our enemies, and to repay good for evil. In that way, it will be very clear that Christians are answerable to a higher calling- one that has turned the world system upside down. We are called to overcome evil with good. We are not able to do that if we become discouraged and defeated by evil. Paul said in verse 21, “Do not be overcome by evil…” It is easy for us to become fainthearted in the face of injustice, war, poor health, or poor treatment from others. We are called to overcome these setbacks by trusting in God for His provision, and becoming that provision for others, as we are called to do in verse 10 (“Honor one another above yourselves.”)
Paul’s message is simple, but it is not easy. It is not natural for us, it is supernatural. Living a life of repaying good all around us can only be done by abiding in Christ through his Holy Spirit. We can take heart in the behavior we see around us lived out through others in the faith. That will be a physical witness of the Spirit who dwells in us.
Prayer: Father, thank you for the simple message of living out our faith with the idea of honoring others above ourselves. We are far from perfect in this, but we ask your grace for the journey, Amen.