Romans 12: 14-21
This passage is about how we are to treat others around us. The theme of the Sermon on the Mount is clearly echoed here in this passage. The call is to serve others as Christ has served us, and to treat others as Christ has treated us. This means the carrying out of love, grace, understanding in all of our associations and then not reacting with our emotions, rather as Christ called. The attitude is not to judge, or to overreact, or to bow to our emotions, or to let others malevolence get the best of you; rather allow the flow of the Spirit in to us and out from us.
If we follow Christ, we will gain enemies who will want to destroy us. We are called to do a difficult thing, to seek Christ and not our pride or the overreaction of our emotions. This is completely opposed to our fallen human thinking and culture--not to pay back evil for evil. Yet, this is our first thought when something bad happens. It was the typical American thinking to desire to destroy Afghanistan after 9/11, but, clear thinking prevailed--that there are millions of people that are innocent and victims of the same rulers and terrorists who attacked us. We must see that it is God's position and authority to exercise revenge; it is our role to seek peace, harmony at the same time we are to be discerning. Thus, it is good character to seek why it happened, find out the real problems and then act, just as our government did. God even calls us to bless people who hate us! So, we have to find a way to retune our thinking to these challenging precepts of Scripture.
· When you earnestly serve the Lord, people will rise up against you! The exhortation given to us is not to overreact, rather seek kind solutions and pray for those who seek to harm us (Matt.5:10-12; Luke 6:28; 2 Tim. 3:12).
· Curse them, this meaning having an emotional response, it refers to making "wise cracks" as in demeaning someone because they first demeaned or humiliated you. We are to see past how others react and concentrate how we act in response! We do this by referring our mindsets to God's justice and not our own! This is allowing the covenantal work of God (Deut. 27:11-30:20) and not superimposing ours (this does not refer to braking civil laws or causing abuse, in such things involve the civil authorities!).
· Christians will also come against us and attack. We must know that other Christians who are "apostate," (not living according to the Word, but according to their own desires, such as gossipers, and hypocrites), who are refusing to serve in their call, will come and attack you the hardest when you honestly and faithfully serve the Lord! They do this because they are out of God's will, in order to make themselves feel good and satisfied, and to elevate themselves, they must bring Godly Christians down. The Pharisees were the equivalent of apostate Christians in Jesus time.
· Rejoice…weeping…morn, this means to identify with others with understating, compassion, empathy and sympathy. We are to express the unity of Christ, so be involved with God's love to others (Luke 6:31)!
· Our response to Satan is found in Eph. 6 and 1 Pet 5:8. Our response to our enemy, both secular and apostate Christian, is to love them (we are not to love Satan!). If you are in a role of hate, the thing that hurts the most is someone coming to you in love! Conviction is very painful when we do not yield.
· Let God be the judge! He is God and knows the true motivation and circumstances of people, which we do not have access to. Thus, He will judge with the right amount of vengeance. Our vengeance is insignificant, and unnecessary, and unlawful before God! Let God be God.
· Low position, man we are to go out of our way to associate with others of different races and classes. Because real self worth and value is determined who we are in Christ, not who we are in the world. Career, money power have there role, but when they become our identity they are illusions made to think we are relevant and important, there is no comparison to what we have in Christ! How and what we think determines how we live and treat others (Prov. 3:7)!
Truth will divide, but also it will unite, so we have to find away to retune our thinking to these challenging precepts of Scripture. If we have the opportunity to turn an enemy into a friend, then we must do what it takes to make it so. We do this by doing good to those who seek to do us harm!
1. How do you feel knowing that Christian brothers and sisters are suffering and dying by the thousands in counties such as Sudan, or being severely persecuted in North Korea?
2. Have you ever been in a fight? If so, how did you feel in the heat of battle? How would you feel as a Christian? Would the character of Christ come out or the emotion of retribution?
3. Have you ever prayed for an enemy? If so, how did you feel?
4. If you follow Christ, you will gain enemies who want to destroy you. So, have you personally experienced this?
5. How did if effect your faith? Did it build you stronger or cause you to flee?
6. Why is Christ's call to love our enemies completely opposed to our fallen human thinking and culture?
7. Do you desire to pay back evil for evil?
8. How did you feel about September 11, 2001, or December 7, 1941?
9. What is your first thought when something bad happens?
10. How and what does God desire your thoughts to be when others mistreat you? What about when Christians mistreat you?
11. God even calls us to bless people who hate us! So what have you done to exercise this call?
12. Sometimes misguided Christians (if that's what they are, remember wolves infest the sheep) will attack other Christians who are doing a good work. Why is this something we should not expect to happen? Or should we expect it?
13. What would be the best way to handle misguided Christians attacking you or someone else when you honestly and faithfully serve the Lord?
14. What are some possible reasons why misguided Christians would attack others?
15. We have to love our enemies or at least try, so why are we not allowed to love Satan?
16. God will allow your enemies to teach you, so what can they teach you?
17. How and why could an enemy know you better than you can know yourself?
18. What do you have to remove from yourself to allow God to be the judge?
19. How can you develop a mindset to love those who hate you? What do you think this will do for our life?
20. How will you and when will you do a better job at loving those who are not so lovable?
©1998, 2001, 2005, Rev. Richard J. Krejcir, Discipleship Tools www.discipleshiptools.org