So much of our faith calls us to act contrary to our nature. In today’s passage, Paul encourages Christians to stand strong in a new way of living. The truth is that it’s easier to fight back against those who persecute us than it is to bless them. It’s easier to take vengeance when we are wronged than to see the big picture of God’s justice. It’s easier to let our enemies suffer than it is to go out of our way to help them. But we are called to something different. This is what sets us apart. This is our strange identity as followers of Christ.
- Has your relationship with Jesus changed the way you relate to others? In what ways?
READ THE WORD: ROMANS 12:14-21 (ESV)
14 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. 15 Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. 16 Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight. 17 Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. 18 If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.19 Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” 20 To 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.” 21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
English Standard Version, copyright 2001 by Crossway Bibles. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
- Take note of what these verses specifically say about how a follower of Christ should live. How should we treat our enemies? Our wealth? Our status? Our empathy?
- What are a few specific examples from the Gospels of how Jesus lived out these things?
- Which of these commands is the most difficult for you to live by? Why?
- How does blessing others, empathizing with others, and living harmoniously, humbly, and honorably convey belief and trust in God?
RESPOND TO GOD
Jesus’ life is the embodiment of this passage. He never took vengeance or exacted wrath on those who schemed against him, and he never paid back evil to those who eventually sent him to his death. He associated with the lowly, even as the Son of God. And ultimately, he overcame evil with the goodness of his death on the cross and resurrection from the grave. He showed us a new way. And every day we must choose it.
- Pray for the strength to walk as Christ did—being a blessing to those around you.
- Ask the Holy Spirit to lead you in living honorably and humbly in Jesus’ name today.