Romans 12:14 through Romans 12:21 (NIV)
14Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. 15Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. 16Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited.
17Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everybody. 18If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. 19Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord. 20On the contrary:
“If your enemy is hungry, feed him;
if he is thirsty, give him something to drink.
In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.”
21Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
*A little girl had misbehaved, and as a punishment, at supper time, her parents sat her down at a small table by herself in the corner of the dining room.
The rest of the family paid no notice to her, until suddenly they heard her praying over her meal with these words: "I thank You, Dear Lord, for preparing a table before me in the presence of my enemies!"
*There was once a Bald Man who sat down after work on a hot
summer's day. A Fly came up and kept buzzing about his bald pate,
and stinging him from time to time. The Man aimed a blow at his
little enemy, but his palm came on his head instead; again the
Fly tormented him, but this time the Man was wiser and said:
"You will only injure yourself if you
take notice of despicable enemies."
Jesus' wisdom, however, is more profound. For Jesus taught that
we were not to ignore our enemies but rather to love them!
I. Care about Everyone
A. In hurts
1. Your hurts
"People need loving the most when they deserrve it the least."
- Mary Crowley
2. Their hurts
*In the eternal triangle of Christianity, God is first, others are second, and self is last. "Rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep." (Rom 12:15) Be sympathetic, tolerant, and understanding.
- Billy Graham, _The Secret Of Happiness_, pp. 178-79.
*A lady answered the knock on her door to find a man with a sad expression.
"I'm sorry to disturb you, " he said, "but I'm collecting money for an unfortunate family in the neighborhood. The husband is out of work, the kids are hungry, the utilities will soon be cut off, and worse, they're going to be kicked out of their apartment if they don't pay the rent by this afternoon."
"I'll be happy to help," said the woman with great concern. "But who are you?"
"I'm the landlord," he replied. - - - Leadership p. 44 1984 5/2
B. In Happiness
---We are never so small as when we find ourselves disturbed and unhappy about the success of another, whether they be friend, or enemy. For some, it is easy to commiserate with those who find themselves in unfortunate circumstances, but they find it difficult to rejoice in the welfare of others that takes them higher than they themselves have attained.
* F. B. Meyer was pastor of Christ's Church in London at the same time that G. Campbell Morgan was pastor of Westminister Chapel and Charles H. Spurgeon was pastor of the Metropolitan Chapel. Both Morgan and Spurgeon often had much larger audiences than did Meyer. Troubled by envy, Meyer confessed that not until he began praying for his colleagues did he have peace of heart. "When I prayed for their success," said Meyer, "the result was that God filled their churches so full that the overflow filled mine, and it has been full since."
C. In Harmony
In the Acts of the Apostles, Paul had a ministry among people of very different backgrounds. "There was the Jew with his stubborn monotheistic orthodoxy, his rigorous moral standard and his passionate attachment to the ceremonial customs ... There was the Greek, even in his decadence far more quick-witted and intellectually ingenious than the Jew, 'spending his time in nothing less but either to tell or to hear some new thing' ... There was the Roman, singularly like us Anglo-Saxons in some of his characteristics, his respect for law and order, his downright matter-of-factness which could dismiss Paul's passionate convictions of the Resurrection as 'certain questions of their own superstition' ... And beneath all these was the underworld of the slave-system, and the 'inferior races,' the laborers and dock hands of the Mediterranean ports." This was the world of the NT as tough as most situations in our contemporary society. But this was the world in which the Church was created!
"Jew and Greek, 'outsider' and Roman citizen, slave and free man, found themselves drawn together into the life of a new community in which they found it possible to meet on terms first of mutual toleration, then of respect, finally of love. The Spirit of Jesus had broken down the middle walls of partition."
- From "Winds of Change" Quoted from F.A. Cockin, 27-28.
D. In Humility
You can not have harmony without humility. No person should consider themselves worth more, or more valuable to Christ than another.
*During the American Revolution an officer in civilian clothes rode past a group of soldiers busy repairing a small redoubt. Their commander was shouting instructions, but was making no attempt to help them. Asked why, he replied with great dignity, "Sir, I am a Corporal!" The stranger apologized, dismounted, and proceeded to help the exhausted soldiers himself. When the job was completed he turned to the corporal and said "Mr. Corporal, next time you have a job like this, and not enough men to do it, go to your commander in chief, and I will come and help you again." Too late, the corporal recognized General Washington.
*Andrew Murray said, "The humble man feels no jealousy or envy. He can praise God when others are preferred and blessed before him. He can bear to hear others praised while he is forgotten because...he has received the spirit of Jesus, who pleased not Himself, and who sought not His own honor. Therefore, in putting on the Lord Jesus Christ he has put on the heart of compassion, kindness, meekness, longsuffering, and humility." Humble people are not conscious of being humble. As Dr. M. R. De Haan used to say, "Humility is something we should constantly pray for, yet never thank God that we have."
II. Contain the Damage
A. Refuse revenge
* During World War II the U. S. submarine Tang surfaced under the cover of darkness to fire upon a large Japanese convoy off the coast of China. Since previous raids had left the American vessel with only eight torpedoes, the accuracy of every shot was absolutely essential. The first seven missiles were right on target; but when the eighth was launched, it suddenly deviated and headed right back at their own ship. The emergency alarm to submerge rang out, but it was too late. Within a matter of seconds, the U. S. sub received a direct hit and sank almost instantly.
In much the same way we can destroy ourselves by hostility toward others. The effects of holding a grudge are very serious. Modern medicine has shown that emotions like bitterness and anger can cause problems such as headaches, backaches, allergic disorders, ulcers, high blood pressure, and heart attacks, to name just a few. When we do not love our enemies but strike back at them, we are usurping Gods's prerogative to mete out justice. We read in the Bible, "Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord!" By seeking revenge, we really inflict great harm on ourselves.
B. Retain respectability
* I have no little admiration for William Tecumseh Sherman. I think the wreath, that the sculptor represents as resting on his brow in that noble statue at the entrance to Central Park in New York, rests there deservedly. He was not only the planner and executor of remarkable campaigns but a man of quick and scintillating intellect, not only a prophet of the times but a principal actor. But there is one incident in his life that I always read with sorrow.
On May 24, 1865, the victorious Union armies paraded through Washington. After Sherman, attended by Howard and all his staff, had ridden past the reviewing stand, Sherman dismounted and went upon the stand. He shook hands with the President Grant and each member of the Cabinet, save one. When he approached, Stanton, the secretary of war, extended his hand and Sherman publicly refused it. And worse than that, he records the incident with evident delight in his Memoirs. He had been aggrieved at Stanton's treatment of him after the surrender of Johnston. In this way, he sought to humiliate him, but the only person he really humiliated was General Sherman. --McCartney
* "Always do right; this will gratify some people and astonish
- Mark Twain
- _Instant Quotation Dictionary_, p. 262.
C. Remember responsibility
* A certain man purchased a paper at a newspaper stand. He greeted the newsman very courteously, but in return received grief and discourteous service. Accepting the newspaper, which was rudely shoved in his face, the customer politely smiled and wished the newsman a nice weekend. A friend observed all of this and asked, "Does he always treat you so rudely?"
"Yes, unfortunately he does."
"And are you always so polite and friendly to him?"
"Yes, I am."
"Why are you so nice to him when he is so rude to you?"
"Because I don't want him to decide how I am going to act."
* "Rather suffer an injustice than commit one."
- _Instant Quotation Dictionary_, p. 185.
---As Christians, we must be sure that the offence does not originate with us, nor is it promoted in us, or with our help. We must be the ones whom others can depend on to short circuit discord and disharmony, for when it comes to us, it finds itself smothered under the refusal to promote it or feed it, or give it room to breathe.
D. Reside tranquilly
9There will be trouble and distress for every human being who does evil: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile; 10but glory, honor and peace for everyone who does good: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile. 11For God does not show favoritism. (Romans 2:9-12)
III. Commit to God
A. Trust Yourself to him
If you can trust when everyone about you Is doubting Him, proclaiming Him untrue; If you can hope in Christ, tho all forsake you And say, 'tis not the thing for you to do; Of you can wait on God, no wish to hurry, Or, being greatly used, keep humble still; Or if you're tested, still refuse to worry, And so remain within His sovereign will; If you can say, 'tis well, when sorrow greets you And death has taken those you hold most dear; If you can smile when adverse trials meet you, And be content, even though your lot be drear; If you can be reviled and never murmur, Or being tempted, not give way to sin; If you can really long for His appearing, And therefore set your heart on things above; If you can speak for Christ in spite of sneering, Or to the most unlovely one, show love; If you can hear the call of God to labor, And answer yes in yieldedness and trust; And go to tell the story of the Savior, To souls in darkness o'er the desert dust; If you desire Himself alone to fill you, For Him alone you care to live, and be; Then 'tis not you, but Christ who dwelleth in you, And this, O child of God, is Victory!
- Author Unknown
B. Trust in His judgments
*There are three things that all of us have to do:
1.) You have to be born, you cannot be unborn
2.) You have to die, (unless Jesus comes soon)
3.) And you have to stand before God and be Judged.
- Billy Graham
C. Trust in His Justice
IV. Conquer with Kindness
A. Meeting Needs
*"Kindness has converted more sinners than either zeal,
eloquence, or learning."
B. Melting Hearts
*The Wind and the Sun were disputing which was the stronger.
Suddenly they saw a traveller coming down the road, and the Sun
said: "I see a way to decide our dispute. Whichever of us can
cause that traveller to take off his cloak shall be regarded as
the stronger. You begin." So the Sun retired behind a cloud, and
the Wind began to blow as hard as it could upon the traveller.
But the harder he blew the more closely did the traveller wrap his
cloak round him, till at last the Wind had to give up in despair.
Then the Sun came out and shone in all his glory upon the
traveller, who soon found it too hot to walk with his cloak on.
Kindness effects more than severity.
C. Mastering Evil
An officer in the army one day struck a common soldier. He was young and hot-tempered. The soldier whom he struck was a young man, too, and noted for his courage. He felt the insult deeply, but military discipline forbade that he should return the blow; he could only use words. "I will make you repent of it," he said. One day in the heat of a furious engagement the young soldier save an officer, who was wounded and separated from his company, gallantly striving to force his way through the enemies who surrounded him.
He recognized his insulter and rushed to his assistance. Supporting the wounded man with his arm, together they fought their way through to their own lines. Trembling with emotion the officer grasped the hand of the soldier and stammered out his gratitude. "Noble man! What a return for an insult so carelessly given!" The young man pressed his hand in turn and with a smile said gently, "I told you I would make you repent it." And from that time on they were as brothers. How beautifully that young soldier followed Romans 12:20-21. --High School Christian
*Abraham Lincoln was once being criticized for his attitude
towards his enemies. "Why do you try to make friends with them>?
a colleague asked. "You should try to destroy them." Am I not
destroying my enemies." the President asked gently, "when I make
them my friends?"
* The story was written of a man who had a big dog named "Buck". He declared to others that Buck could "break out" a snow sled loaded with a thousand pounds which had its runners frozen tight to the ice and snow. Buck was harnessed to the sled, and his owner challenged him to break it loose with an effort equal to the dog's love for him: "As you love me, Buck. As you love me!" The big dog strained at the lines, then pulled with all his might to the right. The runners cracked. Then Buck pulled mightily to the left, and again the runners cracked. Finally, with things "broken loose" on both sides, he successfully pulled that heavy load down the center of the line! Glory to God! That's just what peacemakers do. God helps them to break things loose on both sides by pulling them toward one another, and then the power of His peace pulls the burden on up the middle of the road. Troublemakers freeze up the progress of God's work, but peacemakers free it up. --Duane V. Maxey
In the future I will:
Like Paul, forget those things which are behind and press forward.
Like David, lift up my eyes to the hills from which my help comes.
Like Abraham, trust my God implicitly.
Like Enoch, walk in daily fellowship with my heavenly Father.
Like Moses, suffer rather than enjoy the pleasures of sin for a time.
Like Job, be patient and faithful in all circumstances.
Like Joseph, turn my back on all evil advances.
Like Gideon, advance even when my friends are few.
Like Andrew, strive to lead my brother to Christ.