14 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. 15Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. 16Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight. 17Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. 18If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. 19Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” 20To 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.” 21Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. Romans 12:14-21
We are going to talk about it.
To follow Jesus is to land firmly and fully in a conflict. And yes, it is between good and evil. The battlefield that matters most is in your heart, mind and soul. For from inside of you, you will be called on to love with “the love genuine.” The Gospel is doing its work and you are a participant in your sanctification. (See Romans 12:1-3)
Your mettle will be tested by those who contend against the firmness of your stand with Jesus. They may not even know what they are doing! Paul would write to the Ephesian church that this battle is not against flesh and blood, but against “the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.” (Ephesians 6:12) People are really not THE enemy. Yet their compliance with evil and our own compliance with evil must be confronted.
Every command of love-in-motion confronts.
Paul begins this battle-aware list of commands by echoing the words of Jesus. Every command confronts. “Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse.” Please go back and read the passage again with this question in mind “How are we going to engage with people in the highs and lows of life?”
Every command urgently requires us to seek the Spirit of God for the deconstructing and constructing work of the Gospel in our lives. Truly its only our fears and the fears of others that disable and negate the creative impulse to overcome evil by doing good.
Do good. Mobilize the stuff of earth.
Why, you may ask is this part of a discussion on authentic stewardship? Because doing good goes beyond words. Doing good requires the requisition of resources and their thoughtful and generous application to business, to governance, to art and culture, to the judicial system, and to community and city infrastructures. Those intent on doing this for the common good and not just for personal gain will always find the conflict. Christians are Jesus’ stewards. We move forward with personal responsibility towards Him for what has been entrusted to us. We are to steward with the posture of genuine love, not acting, but loving with integrity to Jesus. When we miss the mark, we miss it royally!
Jesus is the Lord of Heaven and Earth! He comes to us from the communion of God, and the humble ground of the stable, and the refuge of Egypt, and the shores of Galilee, and the halls of Jerusalem’s justice, and the Cross of the cursed, and the tomb of the dead, in order to reign as Lord of all. Having ascended to Heaven He has given us His Spirit to establish His temple in our very body and in His Church. Glory to God! Let our love be genuine.