Romans 12: 14-21
We are to be "peace makers," and not hide in protest, or fight in ignorance. This is about how we react. There are times when Christians must take a stand to defend morality, such as the anti-abortion movement. This must always be done in love and listening, and in kindness, while never compromising integrity or values. There are also times when we must go to war, either for defense or to defend others. This is not a rejection of the sixth commandment of, "you shall not murder." Rather it is the protection and responsibility to the government, which is moral and just if followed biblically.
· Live at peace, this is what we are to be because who we are in Christ. We will fail at it, as conviction sits up negative responses in others as does pride, fear and attitudes. But we are still to strive for peace even though we may not get it! Truth will divide, but also will unite!
· We are to have "Heavenly Qualities" of brotherly love, hatred of evil, joyfulness, diligence, sympathy for others, honor, and peacefulness. These are not "Spiritual Gifts." They are the character we are ALL to emulate. We cannot say, "I do not have the gift of mercy," because we are all to have it in its character form. The person who actually has the gift will be able to rally people around it, and take more direct action.
· We must not have a desire to use revenge in order to "get even" (Deut. 32:35; 2 Sam. 22:48; Jer. 51:56; Prov. 20:22; 25: 21-22; Matt. 5:39). This means to show grace and love, if not we make it worse. As our Chinese friends say, "You better first dig two graves before seeking revenge."
· Greeks believed that whatever happens to a person is because of fate and they deserved it, but as Christians we have grace. We must have stricter virtue, honor and character than the society in which we live to show Christ.
· Heap burring coals on his head, meaning guilt, conscience and the Lord's conviction and judgment will go after the person so we do not need too. The typical response from society is, "I could care less," or, "forget about it (in a cynical tone)." These are expressions of hurt, even though they verbally say otherwise. The burning coals will convict them or punish them. Because they do not see the cost that the Lord paid for them, they are unwilling to respond to the gift of Grace. Christ pursues them, and all they have to do is respond to His call. The world's desire is to tell the person off and seek revenge. To observe this, watch the daytime talk shows. We, as Christians, are called to a higher standard-one that builds, edifies, and reconciles (Proverbs 25: 21-22)!
· Live in harmony, meaning empting ourselves of pride to allow the work of sanctification that beings humility and love, by respecting and sharing the same love and thoughts- togetherness (Phil. 2:1-8). It is about positioning ourselves in Christ not in the ways of the world, being harmonious not filled with self-conceit! Your revenge is to be love, for this has the greatest sting! And, it has the greatest positive effect. When we turn an enemy into a friend, we have won an incredible battle, and prevented future war. We are to turn strife into an incredible blessing! God will allow your enemies to teach you, as an enemy may know you better than you know yourself. Thus, go to school by their attacks. Learn, and grow in Christ.
Satan will attack us, which we should expect! Christians will also attack like the TV show, "when animals attack" (I could not resist this pun!) This is the one thing we do not expect to happen, but it does. It is one of the sorriest and pathetic things under the sun. It is also one of the most hurtful things on par with having a family member attack us. These attacks are rarely physical in nature, although I have observed many a fist fight in a church. The attacks are usually in the form of gossip, slander, legalism, and such. As many child psychologists suggest, verbal abuse is tougher to overcome than physical abuse. Many Christians fail to realize that our intrinsic value is from Christ not what others say or do, so look to Him and all else will fall into place! However, we forget and we fight! So it is when churches fight and people leave, never to venture into another church again! Thus we are to look at Christ as our Lord and example and not what other Christians seem to do to us. Our faith is in Christ not in how we are treated in Church; however we must always strive to do our best at treating others even at churches with excellence in the way of the Fruit of the Spirit! If we can't do it at our "Home" how can we do it in our personal homes and community?
1. Jesus calls us to love our enemies. How do you feel about this? Is it something you practice?
2. What would happen in your society if all Christians did as Jesus called in this passage?
3. When you earnestly serve the Lord, people will rise up against you. Have you experienced this? If so how?
4. Read II Tim. 3:12: Why would we endure hardships for being godly? Does this frustrate you or give you perseverance (remember Christ suffered for you, and you live in a fallen and corrupt world from sin)?
5. Satan will attack us, which we should expect! So why would some Christians believe they do not have to worry about persecution or hardships?
6. In your experience what has happened when people leave the church because of slander, do they come back or go to another church?
7. Should they leave, why or why not?
8. Read Eph. 6 and I Pet 5:8: What can you do to develop a response to Satan's attacks?
9. If you ever were filled with hate for someone, how would it feel to receive love by the person you hated or was hating you?
10. Knowing that for people filled with hate, the best way to hurt them back is to love them! How will this effect or empower you the next time you have to deal with a hateful person or an enemy?
11. Have you ever struggled with hate yourself? If so how did you deal with it? If not how can you prevent it? How could you have made peace with them? What will you do when that situation comes up again?
12. What causes conviction in you? How can it be very painful when we do not yield to the character of Christ?
13. Have you, or have you known someone who was able to turn an enemy into a friend?
14. What can your church do to turn strife into an incredible blessing?
15. When the next time an enemy strikes you, how will you handle it?
16. We must not have a desire to get even with revenge as our Chinese friends say, "you better first dig two graves before seeking revenge". Why?
17. What is the role of a "peace maker"? How can you and your church develop this skill?
18. What does it mean to overcome evil for good?
19. What can you do to be committed to God's justice and not our own? (We are not to retaliate evil for evil, trust in God's justice to prevail.)
- What are "Heavenly Qualities" to you? What can you do to further develop them?
©1998, 2001, 2005, Rev. Richard J. Krejcir, Discipleship Tools www.discipleshiptools.org