By Allen White
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. Romans 12:18-21
Living at peace with everyone seems like such impossibility. If you knew what I had to deal with, you would understand how this can’t happen. Why even try?
There is a key phrase here: “as far as it depends on you.” If someone is being unreasonable, then we can still be reasonable. We can’t do anything to make an unreasonable person more reasonable, but we also don’t have to jump off of the bridge with them. Remember what our mothers used to say.
Revenge is not our job. It’s God’s job. We live in a ruthless world that likes to see people get what we think they deserve. As Norm Peterson from Cheers says, “It’s a dog eat dog world, and I’m wearing Milkbone underwear.” If we take “an eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth” to its natural conclusion, we would all end up toothless and blind.
God is the only One qualified to judge. He is the only One who knows the thoughts and intentions of people’s hearts (Hebrews 4:12). We only know part of the story. God knows the whole thing.
We have a choice. We can refuse to allow the evil that has overtaken them to overtake us. Our desire for revenge is proclaiming victory for our enemies. Just like removing our shoes and getting scanned at airport security is a small victory for terrorists.
People are not our enemies. In fact, all of us have a common enemy whose only purpose is to “kill and steal and destroy” (John 10:10). Fortunately, Jesus came to give us an abundant life. But, God isn’t going to let evil run rampant forever.
One day God will judge everyone who has ever lived – the Quick and the Dead (Acts 10:42, KJV). Evil will finally be eradicated from this world. And, all of the people who possess evil will perish along with it.
What if the person who is giving you grief came to Christ? How could God change them? If the person is a believer, what freedom could they experience?
It’s easy to be Christ-like toward those who are Christ-like. But, when people act beneath who they are, sometimes we feel justified in treating them with a different standard. Our goal as Christians is not to live the Christian life well. Our goal is to allow Jesus to live His life through us. We shouldn’t try to become better Christians as much as we should try to get out of God’s way.
God calls us to love all of the people that He loves, which is actually all people. This means that He calls us to love the people who oppose us – people we regard as enemies. That is a difficult calling. But, what makes the impossible possible is that God’s callings are His enablings. He doesn’t require us to do anything that He won’t enable us to do.
What relationship seems impossible to you? Who would top your enemies’ list? How can you pray for them? How can God work in you to make you into the person that He desires for you to be in spite of them?
This is no easy task. Our efforts will quickly fall short. “Nothing is impossible with God” (Matthew 19:26). Are you ready to experience His supernatural work in your life?
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