Love in Action - Romans 12:17

This week, in Week 9  of our “Love in Action” series, we pick up in Romans 12, verse 17, with a warning from Paul- “Don’t repay evil for evil.”

This reminds me of a saying my dad frequently used, “Two wrongs don’t make a right.”

This phrase can be interpreted in one of two ways. The first is that answering wrongdoing with more wrongdoing will not improve things for anyone.

The second is that someone wronging you (even twice) doesn’t give you the right to lash out in retaliation. Regardless of how you interpret it, at its core, the meaning rings true to Paul’s cautionary words--don’t repay evil for evil.  

Paul elaborates, “Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone.” Other translations use the words “honorable” or “honest” in the place of the word “right.” 

This instruction is significantly different from some societal norms, which encourage us to play nice, but if someone takes a low blow, all bets (and sometimes the gloves) are off. Paul’s teaching, however, rings true to the words of Jesus in Matthew 5:38-39, “You have heard that it was said, ’Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’ But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also.’” This is a hard teaching- especially if you have children in school who have been subjected to physical bullying.

Paul goes on to say, “If it is possible [which indicates it may not always be], as far as it depends on you, live in peace with everyone.” How do we do this? Paul continues, “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.”

For those who are naturally conflict-avoidant, this may come easily, while for those who have a strong need for actionable justice, this call for no or delayed response might be especially difficult. It is important to keep in mind that cherry-picking only the scriptures we want to live by is a slippery slope to start down, so if you find yourself struggling with this teaching or a situation that it applies to, I encourage you to meditate on and truly wrestle with it.

Feel free to take it to the Lord, as David did when he faced injustice. Sometimes, when we choose to take a beat instead of lashing out, we are reminded that God is capable of settling things without our ever lifting a finger.  

When we allow ourselves to be instruments of His peace, even in the face of conflict, we are practicing love in action!

PS—Want to keep this verse with you all week long? Take a screenshot of the image above (or download it) to use as your lock screen!

Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.