Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.
Romans 12:17-18 (NIV)
My beloved mother, a close follower of Jesus, went home to be with her Creator many years ago, but there are certain statements she would often make that I will never be able to forget. One of those statements was: “You can’t please everyone all the time.”
True as my mother’s oft-quoted statement was, the Apostle Paul wrote to the Romans that they should please everyone at least some of the time. He cites two specific ways we can do that.
First, we are not to repay anyone evil for evil but rather do what is right. Paul makes it clear we will have to be careful in this – careful that we don’t let our emotions take over when we have been hurt by evil. It’s natural to respond to evil with evil, but virtually everyone marvels when we see people respond with love. People like Martin Luther King, Jr. who, after his house was firebombed by members of the KKK, spoke to the crowd that had gathered: “I want you to love your enemies.”
Second, we are to live at peace with everyone if it is possible. Be very hesitant to conclude that your situation is one of the impossible scenarios. This is an extremely high calling, to usher in peace in the face of evil.
The next stop on our Path to Perfect Peace is to extend mercy to others, even (and especially) when they are evil. There is no peace in repaying evil with evil. Micah reminds us that one of the things the Lord requires of us is to “love mercy”. The requirement is not there just to benefit the person who needs mercy; it is there to allow you to embrace the Perfect Peace that God yearns for you to experience. You and everyone else.
This is the first in the “Extend Mercy to Others” series of blog posts.