Oh, that my ways were directed To keep Your statutes. (Psa 119:5)
Text: Romans 12:17-21
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 hungers, feed him; if he thirsts, 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.
Jesus has saved you, believing Christian soul, from sin, death, and the devil. He has cured and cleansed you, and now this shall show in your conduct. By His gracious power within you, you shall overcome the wickedness which tempts and pulls you from inside and outside. You have strength in your God. Use it diligently now in faith.
When anyone does you wrong, then by no means do evil to him in return. To do evil belongs to the devil and his servants. It is granted to you by God to do good to all. In God’s heart you have a boundless fountain to draw from. Use it diligently and benefit from God’s goodness, and practice goodness richly toward all in return. The miserly money-grabbers’ diligence shall not surpass your diligence to do good to all. No sower has such a fruitful field and such a precious seed, and your diligence also ought to surpass the diligence of the most dedicated farmer in the busy spring. Do you want to do so? That’s a good decision, and by God’s grace it shall be carried out.
When justice or your neighbor’s true welfare requires it, you must willingly suffer their hatred, not keep peace with anyone to their or your shame or to dishonor the Lord. But in your own deeds you should never pick a quarrel, nor is it necessary. If you are willing to live peaceably, then it will surely happen. Suffer injustice, and remember that you will overcome it in the end. If anyone who has done you wrong suffers wrong, then help them. If your neighbor is angry with you, then quench the fire which makes them so unhappy, quench the hellish fire by doing good to them from a good heart. Shouldn’t your love be stronger than their hate? Shouldn’t your gentleness, which is of God, overcome their anger, which is from the devil? To the thinking of the heathen mind it is lowly and pitiful to bear insult without seeking revenge. But consider rightly how pitiful it is to be a slave to anger. In Christ we are free and able to forgive our enemies, to disarm wickedness, to crush anger, and to put the devil to shame. Let no Christian give up! Jesus says: “Love your enemies and bless those who curse you” (Mat 5:44). With that He has done with our anger as with the leper’s leprosy and the paralysis of the centurion’s servant. If He has said it, then won’t it happen? Just try to use the power which you have in His Word, and you shall not be disappointed. Evil shall not make you evil, but your love shall make the wicked good.
My God, how precious is Your teaching, and how great is Your power and grace! Give me a deep and contrite knowledge of sin, that You may melt my soul in love and make me a conqueror over all evil.
Away, therefore, you wretched anger,
Away, all hate and envy sore,
Away, all ill, remain no longer;
God shall destroy all Satan’s pow’r!
That we may love each friend and neighbor
As we now love ourselves so well,
And when shall end our time of favor,
Body and soul may live so well.
Dass: Gjør godt mod dem som dig mon hade L 218:6 tr. DeGarmeaux;
tune: Rendez à Dieu (ELH 312); alternate hymn: We give Thee but Thine own ELH 445:1-2