How should CHRISTIANS react to EVIL? “Repay no one evil for evil. Have regard for good things in the sight of all men. If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men. Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, ‘Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,’ says the Lord. Therefore ‘if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him a drink; for in so doing you will heap coals of fire on his head.’ Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” (Romans 12:17-21)
Repaying evil for evil is a common practice in this world. However, this delight in vengeance should have no place our lives if we are to be Christ-like. We must resist the tendency to avenge wrongs that are done to us. Vengeance is God’s prerogative, and He will repay at the proper time and in the proper manner (Deut. 32:35). Lenski writes the following on this subject:
“God has long ago settled the whole matter about exacting justice from wrongdoers. Not one of them will escape. Perfect justice will be done in every case and will be done perfectly. If any of us interfered, it would be the height of presumption.”Actually Christianity goes beyond non-resistance to active benevolence, and attempts to convert enemies by love. “To heap live coals on a person’s head” means to “make him ashamed of his hostility by surprising him with unconventional kindness.” The great African-American scientist, George Washington Carver, once said, “I will never let another man ruin my life by making me hate him.” As a Christian believer he would not allow evil to conquer him!
Evil may tend to make us feel powerless. However, Apostle Paul instructs us that we should ‘hate evil’ (v. 9), ‘not repay evil with evil’ (v. 17) and ‘not be overcome by evil’ (v. 21a). We should instead let the goodness of God shine through our lives, and overcome evil with good just as light overcomes darkness. We can be confident in the providence of God and the certainty of His judgment.
As Christian believers, we must resist the impulse to retaliate but rather we should promote our sanctification by doing good to those who do evil to us. Through this attitude we exhibit our life of transformation before a watching world. This can be done only through the phenomenal power of God’s love in our lives. If we let God have His way, He will even use our enemies to build us and make us more like Christ!
"Finally, all of you be of one mind, having compassion for one another; love as brothers, be tenderhearted, be courteous; not returning evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary blessing, knowing that you were called to this, that you may inherit a blessing." (1 Peter 3:8-9)