“Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor…
Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight. Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” To the contrary, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”—Romans 12:9-10; 14-21.
When confronted with difficult people, God wants us to have the characteristics of Jesus.
First, Paul says that our love should be genuine; that is, we must pray that we are not simply pretending that we love others, but that love and concern should flow from our hearts. This kind of love goes beyond human affection and springs from the “love of God that is shed abroad in our hearts.” As believers, we have a source of love that is unavailable to the unconverted.
Second, we should bless those who persecute us. Although these words are set in the context of the early centuries when Christians were physically persecuted in different ways, this also applies to us in our relationships with those who seek to do us harm, whether through gossip, unjust accusations, or deceitful relationships. We can bless them by praying, by asking God to bestow blessings on them, and by doing good to them. Let us do something unexpectedly good for our enemies; it will not only bring glory to God, but will help us in laying down the lingering bitterness we might have toward them. There is power in blessing others.
Third, we should never take vengeance into our own hands. We must trust God, for He assures us that vengeance is His responsibility. If we have faith that God will “even the score” either in this life or the life to come, we can keep entrusting the injustice done against us to God, believing that He will resolve it in His own time and in His own way. Paul ends this marvelous section by urging us to not be conquered by evil, but to conquer evil with good.
Do you have a ruptured relationship that needs resolution and healing? Do you have a child or friend who is estranged from a previous relationship? Has anger separated what, at one time, was a harmonious relationship? Are you daily confronted with someone who is difficult to love?
Let Us Pray
Father, forgive me for being obsessed with “fairness.” Help me to accept the fact that life is not fair, and to realize that the pain that I have received from relationships is intended by You to be used for Your own glory. Today, Father, fill my heart with the gift of forgiveness and the faith to believe that Your grace is able to make the best of a difficult relationship. Birth within my heart the love I should have for those who have wronged me.
And I pray for _____ that they might be freed from the bitterness of a painful relationship. Help them to see that You can use a broken relationship for Your glory if it is repaired by love and forgiveness. Let their love be genuine, may they turn away from evil and bless those who have wronged them.
In Jesus’ name, Amen.
Please note: the above passage from Romans 12 is so filled with practical admonitions and commands needed to create healthy relationships, that I encourage you to pray the above section each day for yourself and others. When we directly pray Scripture, we are in harmony with the Holy Spirit and we can be assured that we are praying God’s will.