Text: Romans 12:14-21 May 22, 2011.
1) Things you need to know: In most of the job training courses or instructions on using a new tool or a gadget, we have to follow a list of DOS and DON’T, things you need to do and things you don’t do, in order to achieve the maximum results. One of the DON’TS in counseling is “Never give any unsolicited advice.” When people are not ready for your advice, your advice will fall in deaf ears. Another one on the list is: Never allow people’s problems become your problems. If their problems become your problems, you can’t help them, because you won’t be able to be in neutral position to make the best analysis.
2) That’s all in the Bible: Basically the Bible is a life manual tells us what to do and what not. In the Old Testament, God gave the Israelis a long list of dos and don’ts in the law. While most of prophets condemned the evil of the society they also told people what to do. In the very first major sermon, the Sermon of the Mount, Jesus told us more dos and don’ts. Other books in the New Testament, most of them are also about what to do to be saved and what to do after you are saved. Even though we are not saved by doing or not doing certain things we are asked to do things to save souls and to be the light of the world.
ON BLESSING OR CURSING: (12:14)
1) Bless those who persecute you: “Bless” in Greek is eulogeo, from which we have the word eulogy, speaks well of someone. That’s why we hear all the good things about the dead at a funeral service. In this we have 2 important points: a) Even those who do wrong to persecute you, there are some good in them or they must have done some good things to other. No one is totally bad at all time to all people. b) We are different from people in the world. It is totally impossible for human nature to do good to those who did evil on us, but that is exactly what God wants us to do to be the light of the world. Jesus said, “I say to you who hear, love your enemy, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, bless those who mistreat you.” (Luke 6:27-28)
2) Bless them, not curse them: To curse in Greek is katarasthe, from katara, means to wish evil, doom or condemnation to fall upon someone. It is human nature to wish bad luck or even evil on those who do evil on us. It is worse than saying bad things against them, in opposite to bless. It is in our mindset to wish bad things to happen to them. God says we shouldn’t do that. Again Jesus says, “If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinner love those who love them.” (Luke 6:32) God gives us 2 choices and we need to choose the positive, not the negative.
ON REJOICE AND SYMPATHY: (12:15)
1) Rejoice with those who rejoice: At first thought this principle would be easy to follow. But if another person’s blessing and success is at our expense, or if their favored circumstances or notable success make us seem barren and dull, our fresh doesn’t lead us to rejoice but leads us to resent or envy. But it is distinctively Christian to rejoice in the blessings, honor or achievements of other, especially fellow believers, no matter what our personal circumstances may be. Paul tells us again, “If one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it.” (1 Cor. 12:26)
2) Weep with those who weep: It is also distinctively Christian to be sensitive to the disappointments, hardships and sorrow of others and to weep with them. This is the duty of sympathy, empathy entering into the suffering of others. Compassion has is the very word the idea of suffering with someone. God is a God of compassion. (Deut. 4:31) In the parable of the Good Samaritan, Jesus illustrated the story with his compassion for the dying man. Gloating on the failure or suffering of others has no room in the heart of a genuine follower of Christ.
ON UNITY AND HUMILITY: (12:16)
1) Be of the same mind: This is about the need of building unity with each other. This is also the most difficult aspect of unity. It is easier for us want to be in the same mind of Jesus, but not with the same mind of others because we are often in disagreement with the mind of others. If we can’t be of the same mind with others, at lease we need to see things from the common ground of Jesus Christ. One way to achieve the same mindset with other Christians is to have the same mindset of Christ as Paul says, “Each of you should not look only to your own interest, but to the interest of other. You mindset should be the same as that of Christ,” (Phil. 2:4-5)
2) Be humble to each other: The believer is not to mind high thing but to condescend to men in low estate. “High things” refers to seeking preeminent, honor, prestige and recognition. He is not to look down on the poor, the under cast and the lowly. He is not to be wise in his own conceits. He is not to have high esteem of himself, not to puff up, to think of himself higher than others. (Phil 2:3) All that we have are from God and of God. None belongs to us forever. So, we have nothing to brag about.
ON RELATING TO OTHERS: (12:17)
1) Don’t return evil for evil: A true believer of Christ is not to react or retaliate with evil for evil done to him. In the course of behavior between men, everyone is mistreated one time or another. React to evil is common in this world. However a true follower of Christ is not free to repay evil for evil because God in Christ did not return evil for evil. Christ prayed for those who put him to death on the cross. If Christians retaliate to the evil doers, we lose the opportunity to win their souls for Christ.
2) Do right in the eyes of others: All true believers of Christ are to demonstrate good behavior in the sights of all men. To provide, pronooumenoi in Greek means to think before acting. The idea is this: we are to think of the consequences of our action before we act on our human nature. In dong this, we are able to present to the eyes of all men, men of the world, good thing, kala, good, honest and noble things in our life for the glory of our Father.
ON LIVE IN PEACE WITH ALL PEOPLE: (12:18)
1) Live in peace if it is possible: A true believer of Christ is to live in peace with all men. We are to live within the boundaries Christ set for us to make peace with others. We are not to stir up conflicts with others, not to have a combatant attitude toward others but be humble and meek in our hearts on the inside and actions on the outside. We will sacrifice our rights and privilege to keep peace if at all possible. Christ comes to the world to make peace between God and men and men to men.
2) Live in peace as much as possible: This is a world full of evil, evil men, evil intend, evil ways of life. Peace may not always be possible. Some people are troublemakers, grumblers, splitters, complainers, dissenters, fighters, haters, ego-hunters, self-image seekers and leaders, power hungers, warmonger, killers, liars and those who have no interest of peace. Christians must not make peace with evil. Believers cannot tolerate false teaching of the gospel and cannot live in peace with immorality. We need to know the line drawn in the Bible how far we can and need to live in peace with the world.
ON VENGEANCE AND REVENGE: (12:19-21)
1) Do not revenge by yourself: “Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for the wrath of God. Fir it is written: It is mine to avenge; I will repay, says the Lord.” (12:19) We need to allow God be the jury and the judge. Only God knows all the details and reasons behind a wrong done to us. Only God knows what is the proper level of payback. We need to trust God that His justice will render punishment proper for the wrong. We certainly don’t want others take revenge on us when we have done something wrong on them. So, be patient and fair.
2) Overcome evil with good: “Do not be overcome by evil but over come evil with good.” (12:21) Do not be overcome by evil has two meanings and applications. First, we must not allow the evil done to us to overcome and overwhelm us to the point we may lose our Christian character. Second is more important, we must not allow the evil done to us to propel us into doing evil to others, the wrong doer. No matter what and how others treat us, we are to respond to them by good.
1) Here is the instruction book: God has given us the Bible as an instruction manual for our life, what to do and what not to. With all the complications and confusions in this world, we can’t find absolute guidelines to help us to do right and keeps us from doing wrong besides the Bible. So, read the Word of God everyday, get some insights one day at a time, and you will learn, mature and do right more than do wrong.
2) How to handle people in your life: God puts us in the midst of people, family, school, church, work and community so we can be his witnesses to lead them to know Him. The way we handle people around us has a lot to do on the effective level of our witnessing for Christ. We can’t stop all the wrongs and evil of the world, but we can take appropriate response to them so that we have the extra edge to be the light of the world.
3) Not all the ways are the same: Not all the ways we live or our responses to others are godly or right. We need to know the heart of God and follow His guidance in the Book to be His true disciples. If you don’t have the power and wisdom of God in you, you may ask for that today. Ask God to forgive your sins. Ask Jesus to enter your heart to become the Lord of your life and the leader of your future. God is waiting for you to ask Him today.